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Retreat Facilitation & Planning

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
(Alan Lakein)

"Strategic planning will help you fully uncover your available options, set priorities for them, and define the methods to achieve them."
(Robert McKain)

“Good plans shape good decisions. That's why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true. “
(Lester R. Bittel, The Nine Master Keys of Management )

Many firms have found retreats a monumental waste of time. That’s because most firms don’t conduct retreats properly. Typically, a lot of time is spent, lots of good ideas are offered, a lot of enthusiasm is generated, and then . . .nothing! What often follows is a big let-down which leads most participants to believe that retreats aren’t worth the time and effort.

A retreat is more than a group meeting. It requires more than preparation of an agenda and a financial report or two. A retreat is an essential part of the strategic planning process that enables a firm to address issues of concern, refocus on its vision, align its members, and create a plan for change and success.

A properly planned retreat will:

  • Identify significant issues of concern which need to be addressed.
  • Gather viewpoints from all levels of the firm in a non-threatening manner, ensuring hidden concerns are brought to light.
  • Provide sufficient relevant information in advance of the retreat to enable meaningful discussion and decision-making.
  • Have a well-thought-out agenda, with sufficient time to address each area, and to also include sufficient social “face time” to relax and enable brainstorming and consensus-building.

Use of a retreat facilitator greatly enhances the prospects of a successful retreat in many ways:

  • A facilitator will be better able to help the firm ferret out festering issues. Experience shows that partners are often reluctant to confront or complain to their own partners, but will express themselves with the help of a facilitator.
  • A facilitator makes sure every voice gets heard during a retreat.
  • A facilitator enables managing partners or management committee members to shun the spotlight and participate like other partners. This makes it easier for all partners to express themselves.
  • A facilitator keeps things moving.
  • A facilitator is experienced in navigating the conflicts which can arise when handling delicate issues; enabling the “conversation” to remain professional, and not descend into personal attack.
  • A facilitator knows how much time you will need, based on the issues to be addressed, and will help you pick the right location, and invite the right people to attend at the proper point.
  • A facilitator will ensure that your firm emerges from your retreat with an Action Plan which is specific as to what will be done, by whom, and by when. In other words, a good facilitator will make sure your retreat enables the firm to develops a road map for where you’re headed, and individual accountability for reaching realistic targets.
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