To make a retreat work, it needs a structure to take the participants from ‘here’ to ‘there’.

One destination must be arrived at within the session itself as it charts a plan for the group. The second destination is the resulting ‘plan’, which must map a path for the group to arrive at a new, improved place at a certain time down the road.

The Common Structure

While every group and every retreat is different, it can build upon a common framework, just as every human body is different but hangs on a similar skeleton. That framework is more or less the following:

  • Who are the participants and why are they there?
  • What is each person’s goal for the session? What result will make you, as a participant, feel your time has been well spent?
  • Where is the group now – its recent history, its achievements, and some of its recent failures?
  • Where do you want to go? Have you a goal? If not, let’s fantasize together.
  • What concerns and what obstacles lie before you?
  • Considering those concerns and issues, how will we collectively get there?
  • Lay out an Action Plan with tasks, dates and who is responsible for each task.
  • Look beyond the short term to the following time frame (or following year).
  • Determine budgets and cash flow as appropriate.

Proof of the Pudding

  • Test the goals laid out at the beginning of the session. Have they been met? If not, let’s address them, one-by-one, till they are in line.
  • Review the Action Lists to make sure they are practical.
  • Identify the measures of success for the group that will tell us we have done the right job one year down the road.

After the Event

  • Document the outcome of the session with a report within two weeks.
  • For major events, meet once a month thereafter, for six months, to measure that the Plan is working as expected and is adjusted to fit new circumstances.
  • If it is an annual Plan, besides the monthly meeting, meet, as a group, 6-months down the road to implement any corrective measures required.
  • Plan for the following year’s retreat.
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3 Retreat Options