July 7, 2015
CEO’s of organizations regularly hold offsite planning meetings with their executive team and/or with the Board of Directors. Likewise, Department Heads sometimes brings their team together especially if they are geographically dispersed.
Often, these sessions are held on an annual basis, and the topics can be varied such as strategic planning, annual plans or to address operational issues.
I have found that holding pre-offsite meeting consultations with attendees, and sometimes with non-attendees, can dramatically improve the outcomes of the sessions. I have compiled a listing of 8 reasons why the consultations are so effective and each Monday over the summer I will provide the detailed explanation for one of the reasons. It will be a quick 2 minute read each week. Previous weeks’ blogs will remain on the website.
Reason # 1 – Maximizes the value of the time spent at the offsite meeting
When the pre-meeting consultations are complete, a summary document is prepared and I typically call it “What We Heard”. This is then presented at the start of the offsite sessions. Sometimes the offsite agenda will include a reception and dinner the night before the actual business portion of the offsite meetings. In this case I recommend that the presentation of the “What We Heard” be done before the reception. It gives participants the evening to absorb the information and be prepared for the following day.
The payoff of the consultation summary is the ability to outline the many issues that have arisen and to identify the several truly key issues that will be the focus of the discussion. And this allows the time spent at the offsite session to be focused on debate and discussion, not on presentations.
This provides for the optimum utilization of the time the executive and Board Members commit to the offsite. In fact, the pre-offsite consultations and the report thereon allows the business meeting to commence with the attendees to be well along the way to being able to make concrete decisions. I typically state to attendees at the start of the business session that “they are already 80% of the way there!”
Reason #2 – Provides key insights that assist with setting the meeting agenda (July 13)
Reason #3 – Enables non-attendees to contribute effectively (July 20)
Reason #4 – The value of “in confidence” consultations (July 27)
Reason #5 – Provides ability to have a very comprehensive short meeting (August 3)
Reason #6 – Sometimes results in a major shift in focus (August 10)
Reason #7 – The value of one open ended question (August 17)
Reason #8 – Creates ability for facilitator to contribute (August 24)