Organizing a Business Retreat.


Organizing a Business Retreat

Whether you're a CPA with an accounting firm or working in industry, it makes sense to gather the key people in your organization for a two- or three-day retreat—far from the hustle and bustle of daily business. Retreats are an excellent tool for clarifying or reaffirming your organization's strategy and for stimulating and nurturing teamwork.

But retreats need careful planning. Following is a checklist of some of the steps that should be taken beforehand to ensure the retreat will be successful.


Select a leader. While it's possible for a member of your organization to conduct the retreat, it's often better to bring in an outsider—particularly someone with experience in retreat leadership and business skills. An outsider often can see things (both conflicts and opportunities) that someone with a long history inside the organization will miss. Such a person will be less influenced by the hierarchical management structure and, thus, able to provide more opportunities for employees at different levels to voice their views.

Establish the retreat's objectives. Although what you hope to achieve depends largely on your business, here are some of the issues you may want to address in the process of setting your objectives:

  • Establish the retreat's objectives. Although what you hope to achieve depends largely on your business, here are some of the issues you may want to address in the process of setting your objectives:
  • What business are we really in? Should we consider other products or services?
  • Where are we going? How are current trends affecting our direction?
  • What corporate image are we trying to create—and are we succeeding?
  • What results are we after? Should we develop performance measures to monitor our efforts?
  • Considering the answers to the above questions, does our management structure support our goals?

Decide who should attend. Resist limiting the retreat to top management. Consider inviting lower-level staff as well. In order to get fresh thinking you need to bring in "fresh thinkers."

Identify the materials (books, magazine articles, research) participants will need to read, or at least be acquainted with, before the retreat.

Determine who will handle the "close" —that period before the final evaluation—when decisions made during the retreat are listed, assignments and expectations are clarified and the results are compared with those anticipated when the retreat was originally planned.

Source: Adapted from Firm Retreats: A Step-by-Step Guide for CPA Firms, by Dale D. Freidig, CPA, CMC. Published by the AICPA Management of an Accounting Practice Committee, 1997.


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