For all boards, a regular dedicated time spent at a board retreat off-site and away from distractions should be considered essential.
Board and corporate retreats help to solidify a board of directors and enhance its effectiveness by giving board members time to get to know each other and to do long range or strategic planning for the organisation.
With packed agendas and time pressure, a typical board meeting rarely affords opportunity for lengthy discussion and creative thinking. The value of board retreats is that they remove the board from outside distractions for a sufficient length of time to contemplate strategic and governance issues, including the board's own development.
The presence of an independent facilitator, briefed by the chairman or chief executive, ensures that time is well spent and all individuals are able to participate fully. This is also an opportunity to bring in external expertise to help deal with complex governance or corporate issues, or to introduce scenarios arising from technological, political or environmental issues, for example.
In many organisations having annual board retreats is routine, for progress reviews, strategy and budget preparation, or for 'blue sky' thinking. For boards whose directors are based at different sites or with external non-executive directors, the residential element is an important feature.
Here are a couple of testimonials: -
Board retreats are particularly valuable for building non-executive directors' understanding of executive strategy. They offer an extended opportunity to learn about and test and probe strategic thinking. They bring the executive and non-executive together in a less formal setting where they can build their knowledge and understanding of each other. They give the non-executives exposure to other senior executives in the business and align understanding of the strategy that is being pursued in a way that then provides a shared backdrop to detailed discussions in the course of the ensuing year.
Professionally run, a facilitated board or corporate retreat pays dividends. The best investment for progressive boards of directors.
Brefi Group has experience of designing and facilitating corporate and board retreats internationally. Often these are in exotic locations, either in the host country or abroad. Whatever, they are held in comfortable surroundings away from the normal workplace.
Each retreat is individually designed in conjunction with the client and is flexible enough to respond to issues as they arise. We produce lots of flip charts and the whole team is involved in analysis, creativity and action planning.
Retreats tend to combine team building with strategy matters. Here are some examples of the sort of things we have included in the past: -
In addition to workshop activities, meals together and a complete break, with some outdoor activity are excellent bonuses that allow the mind to consolidate the learning and be more creative, and board members to relax together.
We can find you the ideal retreat venue – quiet, remote, or luxurious. UK, Europe or overseas. We have facilitated in city hotels, country house hotels, on boats, Texas ranches, mountain lodges – and included activities such as walking in the countryside, mountain biking, horseback riding and white water rafting. And lots of thought provoking indoor activities too. And there is always golf!
Day to day you work under pressure, little chance to spend quality time with your colleagues. Whether your objective is to get to know each other better, to build a team to work together better, to be more innovative, or to get down to work on your strategy, you will achieve much, much more if you get away, change the environment and allow time for the process.
For some projects, business planning, strategy planning and budgeting, scenario planning, uninterrupted time is essential. For some, confidentiality is also needed. For some, just a change of environment is enough to make a difference.