“Imagine that you’ve awakened after being asleep for ten years, what would you want your organization to look like?”

Planning is essential (critical) to the success of any endeavor, whether it be a for-profit or a not-for-profit organization. That’s why so many organizations participate in planning retreats.

For retreats to be successful there are key factors that must be included in the process. The following overview can be a guide in getting the most out of the time you spend in the design of your retreat.

1. Include key stakeholders. Representatives from all aspects of the organization should be included in the process, from staff to board to volunteers.

In order to create a team atmosphere and buy-in, key people need to be involved. Those people that will help implement the plans once set, as well as those who would influence buy-in from other stakeholders in the organization.

2. On the first day, participants should reconnect with the “mission” and vision of the organization. Discussions could include who the organization serves, what the organization does well, what could be improved upon, what are the hopes for the future.

3. On the second day – phase two – participants break into small groups and recognize the organization’s potential for positive influence and impact. Day two is a dream and deliver day. What will the organization look like in ten years? What will the world look like? What is the best we can hope for? How will we make the best happen? After the small groups dream, they will deliver their findings to the entire group.

4. After the dream and deliver phase, participants will focus on creating the “plan” to incorporate the dreams into a strategy, process and system to realize those outcomes established by the participants. The Result: action-oriented statements about how the organization will perform.

5. Stakeholders claim responsibility for each area of the plan. When stakeholders take ownership, things happen. Once this phase is complete, R & R is in order – reward and recognition. Thanking stakeholders in advance can help to cement their commitment to the tasks at hand.

About the Author: Heidi Richards – is a professional speaker, Entrepreneur and the author of “The PMS Principles, Powerful Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business,” “From Wantrepreneur to Entrepreneur”and 7 other books. She is also the Founder & CEO of The WECAI Network™ www.WECAI.org – an Internet network of organizations that “Helps Women Do Business on and off the WEB.” Basic Listing is FREE.

Copyright Heidi Richards – reprinted with permission

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Posted on 02 January 2007

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