This is a guest blog by Sam Smith, vice president and senior consultant at Prouty Project, a leading organization development firm. Sam was tasked with planning the annual retreat for the Prouty Project at the Collaborative Leadership Center. He shares his experience here.
Practicing What You Preach: The Prouty Project Retreats to the North Woods
Challenge: Develop an internal strategic planning retreat to improve team performance.
Strategy: Use the power of place, space and pace to unleash creativity.
The Plan: How does one of the nation’s top business consulting groups conduct their own strategic planning session? “We believe strongly in the power of place, space and pace to unleash creativity, drive change and achieve outcomes,” said Sam Smith, vice president and senior consultant. “We use the same model for our own team that we use with clients, and every January our firm’s nine employees get away for three or four days.”
For the Prouty Project, the unique three-part equation of place, space and pace is successful. The retreat is set up so that the voices and ideas of the founder, the consultants and the client service associates are equal. Space is creating an environment that fosters creativity and includes traditional conference rooms equipped with a beanbag toss game to lighten the tone as well as using informal spaces, like being outside or in a kitchen to capture inspiration from informal conversations.
Pace is how groups work in the session. Sometimes the pace is fast and flexible and uses physical movement or time constraints. There’s also a pace called wallow, which is a time to go slow to be sure everyone is heard and issues are looked at from all sides. “Pace is often overlooked at a retreat but it’s critical because it ultimately allows everyone to get engaged,” Sam says.
The place for the retreat was a get-away to the Collaborative Leadership Center at Sugar lake Lodge, a place the Prouty Project conducts retreats with clients throughout the year. “Place is the special ingredient,” said Sam. “Everyone on our team felt like the personal guest of every staff member. The entire staff at Sugar Lake lodge lives the philosophy of first-class service, which we experienced from planning, meals and accommodations to the farewell at departure time.”
Results: The Prouty team has their 2015 plan in place and internal champions lead the action plans to drive the strategic initiatives set at the meeting. “We’re invigorated, connected and inspired,” said Sam.
Thanks for visiting our blog. The Collaborative Leadership Center is located at Sugar Lake Lodge, just 2.5 hours north of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. We write even more about leadership and team development in our newsletter. Subscribe here and we’ll mail it to you quarterly.