Nail your Agenda: The One Tool to Make Every Minute of your Offsite Matter 🎯
by Jenny Sauer-Klein
We’ve all had the unfortunate experience of investing months of time and energy into planning an offsite, only to feel like our efforts were wasted. 🙁
Have you experienced any of these issues at your offsite?
- Content overload – the day feels crammed with a never-ending checklist of updates and information
- Lack of engagement – people are zoned out, not participating, and stepping out to attend other meetings
- Disorganized and confusing – the experience feels chaotic, and the leaders are unclear and deliver contradictory messages
There’s a huge opportunity cost to take everyone away from their daily priorities, fly them to a new city and have them sit in a room for two days, only to feel like you didn’t make progress on the things that really mattered.
To make the most of the offsite, you need to articulate the answer to one question: What change do you want to create in the way the team thinks, acts, or collaborates?
Defining this arc of transformation will give you the roadmap to get to your destination. It’s one of the first things you want to do in your event design process.
To help you define this transformation, we use our “Primary Shift” framework to laser focus your agenda to make every minute count. 🎯
Your Primary Shift is a “from -> to” statement that defines the transformation that will happen for team members as a result of attending.
The “from” part of the statement is where the group is currently at. It acknowledges the challenging state or limiting belief team members might be starting out with.
The “to” part of the statement is where you want the group to arrive by the end of the offsite. It addresses the new positive state, belief or skill they will attain.
A few Primary Shift examples for a team offsite might be:
- FROM disorganized TO being highly productive without burning out.
- FROM talking about our values TO using them as a rubric for making critical decisions
- FROM stuck in drama TO feeling confident using a framework to resolve conflict on their own.
Your Primary Shift is like the thesis statement of your event, and helps you decide what content to include, and what to eliminate.
You probably have many things you’re trying to achieve during your offsite, but the key here is to choose the Primary one. The Primary one is the one that all the other goals depend upon to be successful.
What is the shift that would be the highest leverage for your team’s progress, and would provide a foundation for all your other goals to be achieved more easily?
A few years ago I was hired to design and facilitate a 2-day offsite for a law firm that focuses on climate change. While the company had been fully remote from its inception, the pandemic had made it all but impossible to bring the company together, and this was their first in-person gathering in years.
The Primary Shift for this offsite was: FROM the team feeling distant and disconnected TO feeling that they belong to a community that cares about each other.
Because of the distance, the most important thing that the founder wanted to achieve was to have the team connect and bond, and to leave feeling like they knew their colleagues better. Although he did want them to do some work on business objectives, we put that on Day 2. This allowed us to prioritize the Primary Shift on Day 1 and set the foundation for relationship and culture building right from the start. It meant that we also used meals as an intentional time to continue building trust and rapport – using conversation prompts and facilitated discussions to keep the team actively engaged.
To create your Primary Shift, we suggest this process:
- Sit down for no more than 5 minutes and quickly brainstorming at least 5-10 “from -> to” statements.
- Once 5 minutes is up, look at your list, and choose the one that is most essential for your team at this time.
- Ask: What is the shift that would be the highest leverage for your team’s progress, and would provide a foundation for all your other goals to be achieved more easily?
- Circle that one and refine it until you feel like it’s crystal clear.
- The shorter and more specific you can be, the easier it will be to apply.
Once you have your Primary Shift, use it as your north star. ⭐️
Anything that does not directly support this shift, should be moved to asynchronous work (pre-work or follow up content) or future meetings. Be ruthless about eliminating content so that you make sure the Primary Shift is achieved.
With a great, clear Primary Shift, you are well on your way to building an offsite that creates real meaning and momentum for your team. Good luck!
If you want more support in creating an offsite agenda with exponential impact, sign up for our Designing an Offsite that Actually Matters workshop or book an Offsite Audit to get customized feedback on optimizing your agenda for engagement, connection and lasting impact.