A few weeks ago, I met someone whose company goes on “advance” instead of “retreat” when they want to spend time engaging deeply together and thinking about what comes next. Their intention is less about restoration than about progress.
Let’s take a leaf out of their book. If you were going to devote a few days to advancing your business, how could you best spend the time with your team?
Stage a learning event. Teaching the group new concepts or giving them new tools is a way to create a joint language or belief set that they can use to work together. Focus on topics that are directly relevant to the work your organization does, from a fresh analysis of the competitive environment to a lesson in how to present data graphically or look at subjects that are relevant to human development, from emotional intelligence to personality theory, with attendant personal assessments; you can also offer training in communication skills like conflict resolution or negotiation.
Create some inspiration. Bring in a speaker, or play a few different TED talks on a big screen and discuss them. Whether the theme is how we can save the planet, how looking at data creatively allows new approaches to health and longevity, or the magnificence of the human brain, inspiring talks make people laugh, cry, think twice, and generally get the creative juices flowing. Listening to a truly provocative or moving talk can be both individually beneficial and supportive of the group’s sense of solidarity.
Work through a current problem together. Collaborating together consciously on the work of the organization is one of the best ways to learn how to function as a group and to appreciate what each individual brings to the discussion. Particularly important is the ability to raise issues that others in the group are unaware of, as well as new perspectives on well-known situations. Be sure the discussion is substantive and not just a presentation of views and nodding agreement; include some deep data review and the generation of alternatives.
Plan for something new going forward. Maintain the momentum! Set some new goals, certainly for the short term, and either reaffirm or adjust your long-term goals and purposes. Use the work of the advance as a reference point for other discussions until it’s time for the next one.
Onward and upward,