Team Retreats and Awaydays
One of the main reasons for having a retreat or awayday is to create a different way of engaging with each other than is possible in day-to-day meetings.
For these events to work, we need to break patterns. We don't want the event to be a conventional meeting but in a more expensive venue. It’s very easy for teams to stick to familiar ways of working as these feel safe, but often prevent more creative conversations.
Everyone can agree that there needs to be more action, greater effectiveness or stronger teamwork - but then not be specific about the details where this isn’t happening and where people want a change. Without some creative friction, nothing really useful can happen.
We encourage participants to take some risks to embrace more difficult conversations. We aim to create an atmosphere in which this feels appealing rather than merely hazardous.
This is more about intelligently improvising based on experience than trusting in any particular technique. It involves not always playing safe when tricky topics arise, and being willing to ask more challenging questions of the group.
We tend to avoid long sessions in which one person gets to talk and everyone else either (a) just listens or (b) fights with others to be the next person speaking. That involves greater discipline in the plenaries you do have, and not simply defaulting to the loudest voice in the room; and also creating structures in which people work in pairs and smaller groups for much of the time.
It’s also important to have changes of pace during the event. Groups of people often get stuck: sometimes in quite frantic forms of conversation, and sometimes in rather torpid ones. Having changes of pace makes it easier for all participants to engage and also to allow more creative thinking. Knowing when to press on, and when it’s better to pause and refresh, is an important judgement call for the facilitator.
We've run retreats and awaydays for over 20 years, with organisations as varied as Amnesty International, Johnson and Johnson and World Vision.