Value the Offsite, or Boondoggle?

“I took off for a weekend last month
Just to try and recall the whole year.
All of the faces and all of the places,
wonderin’ where they all disappeared.
I didn’t ponder the question too long;
I was hungry and went out for a bite.
Ran into a chum with a bottle of rum,
and we wound up drinkin’ all night.”

-”Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” (Buffett)

Ever attend a work-related offsite like that? Those year-end ’strategic planning’ or annual ‘operations conference’ sessions?  Big, buzzword-packed agendas, lots of senior-level presentations, bad coffee, Powerpoint, and…no action, no results.


1.  Networking – getting to know those in other groups, states, countries

2.  Learning a shared message – the new vision, mission, strategy

3.  A reward – not much work is done, but plenty of socializing

4.  Build the team – team-building exercises

5.  Brainstorming – innovations and new ideas


Let’s try!

Cheryl Dahl wrote a great article for FastCompany in 2001 on just this subject.  Her seven-point list to offsite salvation:

1.  Agree on a definition of victory that matters

2.  To get the right results, invite the right people (hint: they’re not all VPs…)

3.  If you want mind-blowing results, expose people to mind-blowing ideas

4.  What people think is influenced by where they sit

5.  To make it work, keep it real

6.  You don’t always have to beat the clock

7.  What gets measured gets attention.

Doesn’t sound all that hard, even when you read it out loud.  How does your organization accomplish this?


That’s ok too.  If we go offsite knowing we’re rewarding our teams for a hard year’s work, then let’s do just that.  Why ruin good golf, great spas, or meals in Tuscany with flipcharts and presentations? We can have great conversation and review our progress without all the feigned hoopla. As my friend Jimmy Buffet says:

“It’s those changes in latitudes,
changes in attitudes nothing remains quite the same.
With all of our running and all of our cunning,
If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.”


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