Retreat Facilitation with Xanthus Consulting

Too many board retreats are essentially just long board meetings in disguise. I think purpose-driven organizations are missing out on the benefits of a well-thought-out, planned, and facilitated retreat. When I think of some of the best board retreats I’ve participated in or facilitated, they have been retreats that have built or strengthened the board’s culture of inquiry, team-oriented approach to problem-solving, or their board, staff, community relationships.

It’s time to turn your retreat into a win! A good facilitator can help you determine the best use of your board’s precious time. If you don’t have access to an experienced facilitator, referring to these resources while asking the questions below can lead you in the right direction. And if you’d like to talk with me about your next retreat, schedule a free 30-minute call to start the conversation.

Questions to Consider BEFORE Planning Your Next Retreat

  • Why is it important to have this retreat?
  • What is the highest priority for our board this year? (Base answer on your last board self-assessment or group consensus.)
  • What is the highest priority for our organization this year? (Base answer on your last organizational assessment or immediate need.)
  • Who should be involved in the planning of the retreat?
  • At the conclusion of our retreat, how will we know if we’ve been successful?
  • Does our board have a healthy culture of inquiry that includes trust, information sharing, teamwork, and stimulating dialogue?

Questions to Consider DURING Planning of Your Retreat

  • Do we have leadership’s agreement on retreat goals and desired outcomes?
  • Is there information about what worked and what didn’t from previous retreats?
  • Who is the best person to facilitate our retreat? Co-facilitator? What skills or expertise should they have?
  • Who should attend all or part of our retreat?
  • How much are we willing to invest (funds and time) to achieve our desired outcomes?
  • What retreat format should we use that supports the candor and consensus needed to achieve our objectives?
  • Will our retreat be in-person or through teleconference?
  • Where is the best location for our retreat if in-person, or what is the best teleconference platform if our retreat is virtual? Are all board members familiar with the technology we plan to use, and do we have a designated technology person to assist during the retreat?
  • When should we hold our retreat? Duration, day(s), times
  • What issues are likely to arise that could prevent us from achieving our desired outcomes?
  • Establish retreat norms and include norm agreements specific to virtual retreats
  • What pre-retreat information or activities should be provided?
  • How will we ensure accountability during and after the retreat?
  • What questions should we ask on our post-retreat evaluation to help us know if we achieved our desired outcomes and plan for our next retreat?