5 Tips to Running a Successful Offsite

Yesterday we held a GovLoop team offsite – and if I do say so myself, it turned out pretty good. One of the best I’ve ever been to. This is the 3rd offsite I’ve run and I’ve been a part of another 10 or so.

And honestly, let’s be real. Most offsite suck (including one’s I’ve run). There is something awkward about it. You are in a foreign location, you are supposed to solve all your problems in a day, and everyone is bringing their own agenda.

Here’s my top 5 tips to run a successful offsite:

1) Give Other People the Lead – Usually the offsite is run or led by 2-3 main people. This time around we had 5 distinct section that were each run by different groups of two people. This increased buy-in, gave new energy, and gave everyone a clear preparation role.

2) Get Logistics Down Right – It’s easy to run a half-ass offsite. One where it’s a bad venue, there isn’t enough food, water, out of pens, forgot the A/V adaptor. Or maybe it feels rushed and not really clear what is being covered and why you are there. If you are going to do an offsite, spend the time getting logistics right – this year we had a point person on venue, point person on food, point person on office supply logistics. Sounds a little silly but made all the difference.

3) Scope the Schedule – You can’t accomplish everything in one day. So don’t even try. In this offsite, we scoped down what we wanted to accomplish and also set real expectations (we aren’t going to fix everything today)

4) Limit the Time – I’ve tried to run offsite where you go 8am – 530pm and it’s jam-packed all day. It’s just too much as this is tougher, deeper think. We ran 830 – 4pm with breaks throughout and a fun 1 hour lunch.

5) Clear Follow-Up – Most follow-ups fail in their offsite. It’s still too early to tell for us but we’ve changed our approach this time. Each of the teams who presented are synthesizing their section and presenting in the next week – their top 5 actionable items to be completed in the next 30 days. Then we have a meeting on our schedule 30 days from now on what we’ve accomplished.

What’s the best offsite you’ve been to? Why?

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Alan Pentz

I’d add flushing out as many of the issues ahead of time as possible. We often do some data gathering or interviews on key topics beforehand. That helps get ideas and issues out in a one on one setting which is far more effective than in a group setting and helps the group focus on making decisions or getting consensus rather than detailing all the background.