Thinking of a Board Retreat? Consider these 5 things:


There are times when boards and senior leaders start itching for a retreat.

Many boards are very disciplined about gathering on a regular basis for an in-person retreat, but others may either get off-schedule or choose to invest that time only when it seems necessary, such as at a time of change or crisis.

If you fall in the latter category, here are some ideas to help you think through what you want to do:

  1. Does your board need to get to know each other better? If there has been a lot of turnover you may not need a board retreat but a social event with the specific goal of building relationships and trust.
  2. What are the Big Questions the organization is wrestling with?
    • Has the landscape changed and your organization is no longer as competitive as it once was?
    • Is your business model no longer as relevant as it once was?
    • Are you anticipating turnover in key positions?
    • Whether or not you hire a consultant to facilitate your retreat, clarifying the issues at hand will help you structure your retreat to use everyone’s time most effectively.
  3. Is there a decision to be made or is the retreat intended for discussion, connection, and learning? Being clear on your desired outcomes is key.
  4. Are you seeking alignment on a controversial issue? What information is needed for board members to fully engage in that discussion? Will you have time to prepare that information and share it so board members can review? How will you determine if you achieve alignment?
  5. Do you need a retreat or a larger strategy development and/or planning process? We are often asked to facilitate “just a board retreat” when what the organization really needs is a fuller process that includes information gathering and understanding your position in the market, clarifying the criteria for weighing strategic choices, and memorializing the outcomes and decisions into an actionable plan. If you need a fuller process, you may not want to schedule “just a board retreat” but consider a more comprehensive strategic planning process.

Board retreats are nothing if not an opportunity to share some good food, so be sure to not overlook the menu. But when you consider the time commitment involved in gathering this most committed group, it’s important to be intentional about how you plan to use their time.

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