January is the month for organizational retreats. But many of them are tired, and ineffective. To spice up your session, consider some ideas entrepreneur Seth Godin offers on his blog:
The conclave must be off-site, with no access to electronic interruption. It should be intense - save the rest and relaxation for afterward.
Don't begin with people going around a circle and saying their name and what they do and their favourite kind of vegetable or whatever. "The problem? People spend the whole time trying to think of what to say, not listening to those in front of them," Mr. Godin says, noting he once had to endure 600 people doing that.
A week ahead, give each person an assignment for a presentation on topics such as "What are you working on?" or "What's bugging you?" or "What can you teach us?" Limit each person to five minutes.
Have 11 people present their five minutes in an hour, and never do more than an hour in a row. "The attendees now have a hook, something to talk to each presenter about in the hallway or the men's room," he says.
Organize roundtable conversations, with no more than 20 people in a group. Give them a fire-starter topic, and let them go to it.
Solve problems in groups - building or analyzing something, or creating something totally irrelevant to what the organization does. It doesn't matter: The purpose is to put people in close proximity with just enough pressure to make them drop their shields.
Special to The Globe and Mail