How to Make your Retreat Memorable AND Valuable

How to Make your Retreat Memorable AND Valuable. In Blackboard Fridays Episode 126, Jacob talks about Growth Planning. Need this implemented into your business? Talk to the international business advisor who can do exactly that – Contact Jacob, Learn More, or Subscribe for Updates.

Who is Jacob Aldridge, Business Coach?

“The smart and quirky advisor who gets sh!t done in business.” Back independent since 2019.

Since April 2006, I’ve been an international business advisor providing bespoke solutions for privately-owned businesses with 12-96 employees.

At this stage you have proven your business model, but you’re struggling to turn aspirations into day-to-day reality. You are still responsible for all 28 areas of your business, but you don’t have the time or budget to hire 28 different experts.

You need 1 person you can trust who can show you how everything in your business is connected, and which areas to prioritise first.

That’s me.

Learn more here. Or Let’s chat.


One of my most favorite things to do in business is to run retreats. Retreats, whether they be for the whole business or just the leadership and management team, can be a real catalyst for change within your business.

I thought I’d share with you today a bit of a general framework I like to use for a fairly standard two-day retreat. Now, each retreat you’re going to go into it with a particular purpose or you or it might just be a time of working out what the next step is.

Depending on that purpose it might change the structure of your retreat depending on what you need, but this is a general framework that you could then use within your business whether you run the retreat yourself or you get somebody to do it for you.

Now first and foremost, it’s absolutely critical that you start by making sure the objectives are really clear, and you set the rules of engagement throughout the room throughout the retreat. Now the objectives need to not only be set by the leader or the facilitator, it’s actually critical that everybody gets an opportunity to say what they would like to get out of the, in this case two-day retreat.

I then like to get straight into the now. We need to start to get into the heads of the individuals within the business and understand where they are at now both from an individual perspective and also from an overall sort of business perspective.

An example of a great way to do that is using a tool that I’ve borrowed off Dom Price of Atlassian I’m called the 4 Ls and the 4 Ls are what have you loved, what have you loathed, what have you longed for, and what have you learned. Y

ou could ask that question at an individual level in the last quarter or the last year. But it’s a great way to gauge where the room is at and what’s going on in their head. You can also apply that for a particular division or a particular part of the business.

Once we’ve got a feel for whether now is we need to then get into, where are we going? Not always will you want to open up the hole where are we going because there’s not something that you typically will change you know every 12 month at our retreat. What you do need to do is you need to reconfirm that that is where we’re going. You need to reconfirm why we’re going there, what the vision is, the values and that type of thing.

A neat little way to do that is I like to have pre-prepared big pieces of butchers paper with the different key components of the business written on them. If you give people some different colored dots, you can get them to walk around the room and put a dot on something, maybe a green dot on something that they think we’re doing well maybe a red dot on something that they think we need to improve.

That then gives us some great insight as to where the team are feeling and whether they are aligned with our where. We then like to start to get into,what are those opportunities? Let’s start putting on the table some of those opportunities for our business.

Now, it might be that opportunity is to deal with the threat, that we need to start to get out all the different ideas. I like to keep that a very free-flowing sort of session that one, because you need every idea out on the table in that situation. That in my mind then becomes a really nice time to have a breather, to have a bit of a break.

Maybe have some organized activity where you get this reflection and you gets a bit of casual sort of discussion whether it be over dinner or over a hike or whatever it is that you’ve got planned. You come back down on day two because I do think it’s really important that a retreat does go over two days.

That night is actually critical to the outcomes you get the next day because if you sense that there’s someone in the room that’s not sharing or there’s something you need to deal with, that’s a good opportunity to go over and sit next to them and have a bit of a discussion.

When you come back though, day two for me is about how. It’s about diving deep into all of these things we discussed the previous day. Maybe there’s a whole big list of opportunities and we now need to prioritize them, or we now need to dive deep into what are we going to do about it? A simple tool which I always use and I talk about a lot is called the three Russian brothers and their cousin, and that is a way to dive deep on a particular strategy.

The three Russian brothers their cousin, what are we gonna do more of, less of, what are we going to get rid of, and then what are we going to toss into the mix? So just as a tool to use to get that our discussion happening. This could be a pretty intense day, this one because you’re dealing with all the cool stuff the day before and now we’re talking about actions and strategies.

I always like to conclude a retreat with the discussion around change readiness. It’s because change readiness can bring up some of those discussions around what are gonna be the roadblocks that are going to stop us implementing these things that we’ve identified we need to do? Having an open discussion around, this is going to require change Are we ready for that change? What are the roadblocks that are going to stop us is really really important.

Last but not least, you have to end your retreat with a summary, summarize assign responsibilities, and due dates for the different tasks. But of course none of this counts if you get back to the office and you do nothing.

So make sure you’ve got a structured follow-up plan to make sure someone’s got the responsibility to check in with the individuals involved that have been assigned tasks to make sure we follow up on all of this discussion and put some actions in place.

Hopefully that gives you some idea of the of the framework I like to use for a two-day retreat. But if ever you need some help with a retreat, and we love helping people out because it’s a time that you can get some real traction and some real change for you and your business.

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