The annual retreat is approaching, and you’re in charge of organizing it. It's an opportunity for your organization to come together and grow, but in order for the retreat to be effective, you need the people attending to buy into it.
One of the best tools for creating buy-in during the retreat happens before the retreat. Forming a "Design Team" – a key group to help you plan your retreat – allows you to access ideas and solutions from all parts of your organization, and creates a group of messengers to get the energy of your retreat in the right place.
What is a Design Team?
A Design Team is a special selection of people from within your organization who come together to co-create key elements of the retreat. Comprised of a cross-section of team members from the company, each person brings his/her own perspective on what topics to cover and how those messages can be resonant. The Design Team also serves as a messenger to the rest of the organization. Although the group may only feel like it exists during your meetings, when it breaks up following those meetings, the members will return to their teams and cohorts, sharing some of what is planned, fueling buy-in, and creating a positive buzz. It’s your own little authentic hype machine.
Who Should Be On the Design Team?
Once you’ve decided on the Design Team concept, you need to populate it. Each organization is different, so you’ll have to think about how to match the Design Team to your organization – and, as with your retreat in general, this is an area where a professional facilitator can help – but in general there are certain characteristics and traits to look for when creating your Design Team.
- A decision maker with the power over the budget. This gives the Design Team the power not just to come up with ideas, but to make decisions.
- Representatives from core “levels” and “departments” in the organization. Each organization has a different shape and structure, so do what feels right here. The general rule is: go wide, and go deep. If your company has sixty percent of staff in the finance department, it could make sense to get a few people from finance in your group. And if your organization is packed with Millennials, it might be good to have the Design Team reflect that component of your overall demogrphic.
- People likely to be on board and people likely to push back. You want the Design Team to include people you think will be supportive of the retreat for the positive energy they’ll bring, but be sure to also include those who will be skeptical. The skeptical ones can find holes in your thinking that need to be addressed, and serve as a good barometer for when a plan is ready: if they can buy into it, it should be good to go.
- Doers. The Design Team should be action oriented, fueled by people with energy, who get things done. Just because someone is successful in his/her traditional work capacities doesn’t necessarily mean he/she is the person for this team. Regardless of their job description and role, you want people who are ready to take action. A good way to find this group is to ask for volunteers and see who responds the fastest.
What Else Should I Know?
Be sure to set clear expectations so that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities, and what the decision making process is. If you’re looking for feedback in a certain area, ask for it. Being specific will help the team focus their energy and save you from soliciting ideas that may be good, but don’t work for the event you have planned. And if there are areas of the retreat for which you are holding onto the decision making power, be clear on that point so that the Design Team can confidently tackle the issues they can affect.
A Design Team can be your ticket to a productive retreat. By getting the right mix of people and personalities in your organization in one place, you can solicit ideas that will be effective across your organization, and create a unit that can help you foster buy-in for the retreat from your organization as a whole.