Off-Site Insights

For the last two days, the Fast Company team has been sequestered in a country home built during the 1830’s in the Delaware Valley. The purpose: A strategic off-site planning session. Over the course of almost 48 hours, members of the production, design, editorial, Web, and business teams gathered to deconstruct the magazine, revisit our approach to design, improve the copy editing and fact checking processes, and otherwise reconsider the work we do.

It was an important look back at the last year — as well as a look into the next 3-5 years. And it reminded me of the article Can This Off-Site Be Saved? In that piece, contributor Cheryl Dahle offers the following tips and techniques for designing productive — and fun — off-site events.

  • Agree on a definition of victory that matters.
  • To get the right results, invite the right people.
  • If you want mind-blowing results, expose people to mind-blowing ideas.
  • What people think is influenced by where they sit.
  • To make it work, keep it real.
  • You don’t always have to beat the clock.
  • What gets measured gets attention.

In retrospect, I’d say we did five, maybe six of the above. While there are some resources available for different off-site activities and the dreaded team-building exercises, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of useful material on designing better off-sites. How do you approach off-sites?