What comes next? Steps to take before and after a successful retreat.

AuthorMeyers, Julie

OK. So you've had a great retreat. The last of the cars has pulled away from the conference center, and everyone is pumped up and energized from the weekend.

Question: How do we make sure all of those great ideas actually come to fruition?

Answer: Don't wait until after the retreat to plan the follow-up. Include follow-up in the initial planning sessions so that it becomes integrated into every aspect of the retreat from the moment it begins.

Pre-Retreat Planning

Most retreat goals are not realized because there is often a disconnect between strategy and execution. In order to avoid this, when the retreat committee is in its planning stages and the retreat goals are being discussed, part of the planning should include how the plenary and breakout sessions align with the goals of the retreat. Prior to the retreat, the retreat planning committee should meet with the practice group heads to discuss the retreat goals. During that meeting, the planning committee should identify a person for each breakout meeting who will be responsible for capturing key action steps and following up with the members of his or her meeting (the "note taker"). During the breakouts, the practice group heads must be prepared to guide and direct their discussions in a way that identifies follow-up activities and gets people to volunteer to implement those activities.

After the retreat, the note taker will share his or her notes with the members of that group and follow up to make sure the activities are taking place. For this to truly work, the practice group heads and note takers must be "empowered" by law firm management to track and remind people about their responsibilities. And for that to occur, at the beginning of the retreat, in a plenary session, management needs to publicly convey the practice group heads' and note takers' authority. To further improve follow-through, retreat management should tell everyone they are responsible for results, expected to participate in follow-up and must cooperate with the follow-up efforts of the note takers.

Post-Retreat Implementation Task Force

Creating a group of "watchers" is the key to the success of any planning-oriented retreat. David Freeman, a veteran retreat design and implementation expert, suggests that firms form a Post-Retreat Implementation Task Force (PRITF) to drive action after the retreat. It is recommended that the PRITF be comprised of partners and staff from various offices and practices who would be...

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