Matt Homann posted a list of Ten Rules of Law Firm Retreats, but I think these are equally applicable to just about any time you take people off to discuss how things are going in the business or how to improve the business. This could be a retreat or the initiation of a new improvement program, or ...
1. When planning [an event], the most important voice at the table should belong to your best [customers]. Ask them what you need to improve upon in the coming year, and invite them if you dare.
2. At a good retreat, management spends as much time listening to the [employees] as they do talking to them. [My comment: This is a good rule in general. Don't let the facilitators do all the talking. Get the participants involved.]
3. It is far more important for [people] to think together at your next retreat than it is for them to golf together. [My comment: Some thinking does happen on the golf course - though mostly that is over glasses of ale and is geared toward building social connections.]
6. “Networking” cocktail parties don’t encourage firm-wide collaboration as much as they encourage firm-wide inebriation. [See golf]
9. The three questions every [employee] should be able to answer after [an event] are: “What can I do better?” “Who should I know better?” and “Why should I be better?”
10. The two costliest items at any [event] are the the time and attention of the attendees. Use them wisely.
* Disclaimer. Matt and I had lunch together this past Saturday, and I suspect we'd point each other to work, if the opportunity arose. And, Matt, you will note that I am still reading your blog after all.
[Photo: "Napoleon at Moscow: 'The Command of God to Retreat'" by cliff1066]