Well executed strategic escapes are a powerful tool for creativity, authentic leadership and peak performance. But you must run them like any other area of your business.

Regardless of the size of your business, a strategic ‘away-day-or-two’ agenda must combine a game plan for creative contribution, commercial performance and personal reflection/contribution. Some of the best ideas happen outside of a boardroom.

Just like any other expenditure there must be a return on this investment. It all comes down to running your breakaway sessions with those three core pillars in mind.

  • Ensure they are relevant
  • Ensure the commercial and creative scope resonates
  • Is this real time – can we action cost and time effectively?

Relevance

Know your team and your commercial goals. According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, 75% of the workforce by 2025 will be made up of millennials and this age group is focused on meeting targets and making an impact with clients – not necessarily long lunches and navel gazing activities any more. We want our teams to get things done and those we lead now want clear direction.

So, set out with a clear strategy that is relevant to your leadership team, the current situation and vision for the business. Create an agenda that engages at all levels.

  • Know your budget and your desired outcomes
  • What are the core points we want to take out of this retreat?
  • Where are our biggest challenges we want to overcome?
  • What is the game plan to implement post “away days”?
  • How long do you realistically have to be away from the business?

Resonate

What truly resonates with your team and your company goals? Plan your think tanks around the trifecta of commercial, creative and people performance (leadership).

Run creative brainstorming with a framework for elements that can be implemented in the short, medium and long term. Encourage all types of personalities in your team to share, creating a safe space to do so.

  • Set the scene upfront: what boxes need to be ticked for ideas that are submitted?
  • Mix up groups as required to ensure equal opportunities for all levels to be involved.
  • Allow time in the agenda for creative ideas to flow and ensure all are captured.
  • Ensure that team-building sessions are organised so everyone can join in and feel connected.

Real Time

Working on ideas with no implementation or follow up is de-motivating for those involved and wasting valuable think tank time. A successful retreat is based around actions that can be clearly defined for the now, then and next.

  • What are your real-time capabilities to move forward?
  • Where can measures be put in place to ensure the IP, creativity and performance points can be integrated back at the office and with a real-time approach.
  • Before you close your retreat, create a 90-day plan at the retreat for post retreat and copy this to all for next step accountability.
  • Where do we physically want to be as a team, a company and our performance pillars in 90 days? Then assign the following: immediate three tasks now, next seven days and what actions need to occur within the next 30 days.

Overall, a well-planned, purpose-led strategic escape provides an incredible checkpoint each year. Successful retreats are relevant creatively, resonate with core people and performance goals, and have a real-time game plan for sustainable success.