Last week I facilitated the executive leadership team retreat of a client for the second year in a row. As the CEO concluded his opening remarks, he turned to me and said, “David, you should feel really proud we invited you back, since we accomplished very little coming off of last year’s meeting. That may be a first in the history of facilitating.”
Obviously, this created an immediate opportunity to discuss what didn’t happen… and to identify how the team – which has several new members – will change its approach this time around. Through this opening discussion the team identified 26 ‘traps’ that had them end up hitting a nice ground rule double instead of a home run. Listed among these disruptions were: too many things to focus on at once; operating in silos instead of joining together; allowing ‘fires’ to displace working the plan; and, poor communication across the organization.
This was a wonderful dialogue that moved us through what didn’t happen and got everyone’s cards on the table right off the bat. In fact, when we broke for lunch that first morning, I asked them to come back prepared to answer that they had ‘left the past behind’ and are ‘all-in’ going forward.
Ultimately, we ended day two with a clear path for what the new plan is, what steps they will each take to complete their part and how they intend to hold each other accountable. We put in place ‘check-in’ dates where they will meet regularly to provide updates on progress, so they don’t wait until the last minute to do things. Most importantly, I met individually with the CEO and coached him on how to stay ‘on top of the pyramid’ thinking big picture while engaging his leaders at the ‘ground level’ to keep them focused on achieving desired outcomes.
This time I think we got it right, and they’re going to soar. Perhaps they might invite me back again next year.