Creating Outcomes from Stories - On a Fast Track!

Recently the director of a main campus unit called for assistance with a one-day planning retreat. The objectives were to come away with the unit’s mission statement, its overarching goals and the outcomes to be achieved during the coming academic year.

This is usually more than seven hours can achieve, especially as the unit was just created by merging two other offices. There were elements working in our favor, however: there were only nine people involved, they were all deeply motivated and the off-site location was perfect for creative work.

We began the day sharing personal stories and aspirations around three previously selected topics. From those we identified common themes of past success and new possibilities. Those themes were then the foundation for crafting highly detailed, poster-size images of the future, assembled in the form of a future press release.

What was learned in those first steps informed their mission which was articulated as a “Reason For Being”, a structure that is especially service-oriented, and from that we derived the overarching goals. We ended the day by establishing the outcomes for 2015 – 2016 essential to firmly establishing this newly assembled unit and beginning to make positive, observable progress toward their goals and their Reason For Being.

Thanks to the high level of commitment to their work and the energy they devoted to the day, the final results were sufficiently clear and succinct to be posted online by mid-morning of the next working day. According to the Director, “this retreat helped us to clarify our mission and goals in a wonderfully creative environment.  Thanks to Bruce’s facilitation, our team was able to walk away feeling inspired and energized about our work and our future together.”