Kick off meetings, senior leadership retreats, strategic planning summits call them what you will, these brain-gatherings are full of good intentions, opinions, insights…and egos. Done well, these events are interesting, challenging and stimulate individual and collective ownership of the future. At their worst such events are days of misguided messaging and wasted opportunity to connect, collaborate and create.
In the planning stage, the easy bits probably get too much management focus. Venue selection, entertainment (including bussing a large group for 90 minutes to a ‘unique’ restaurant) and a safe and somewhat predictable agenda which updates people on what most of them already know can make it feel as though progress is being made. The real payoff though, is harder to achieve. It will be the design quality of the interactions, the conversations held and the co-created outputs that engages the group to be motivated to shift mindset and behaviours in service of your goals.
When you have a group of less than 20, the intimacy of a relatively small number of delegates can promote higher tolerances to the level of rigour and expected outcomes for your gathering. However when your group is 25, 50 or more intimacies decline, expectations rise and the ‘forgiveability factor’ of a less-than-inspiring agenda shrinks. Risks are higher with larger delegate numbers, so winging it or recruiting a colleague to plug in another ‘update’ to fill a gap in the agenda won’t cut the mustard with an audience of highly demanding seen-it-all-before senior managers.
Credibilities are at stake. Productivity is at stake. A whole lot is at stake.
Solution? Similar to a dental check up or health screening; get your agenda tested by professionals who understand group dynamics and meeting cultures. Isn’t it better to know what needs beefing up, challenge areas that need dumping and advice on how to truly engage and involve delegates? Maximise the investment you’re making while your team are together. Get your agenda tested.
A few agenda health check questions for the Over 20’s:
- Why are you holding this meeting?
- What must delegates discuss during and do afterwards?
- How have you set delegate expectations?
- Who will facilitate? Are they trained to do so? Do they also need to contribute to the meeting content or remain completely impartial?
- What are the outputs you need?
Prevention is better than cure. Stay healthy.