Why Retreat When You Can Advance?
It was a very cold November weekend in 2008 when our company was just three people. We huddled around a fireplace in New Hampshire and our facilitator announced, "We're going to look more forward than back over the next 2 days...so let's call this an advance."
9 years later we still make the choice to shut down our company for three days, rent a house 2+ hours away from the office, and get our entire team together to focus on our most important client....Ember. It's an incredible investment that yields tremendous dividends. While the topics, locations and sometimes people change - one thing doesn't, our purpose. We seek alignment.
Throughout the year, our employees will go in all different directions to deliver gatherings, fight fires, and constantly adapt to their environment. While we pivot, flex, solve and fix - we've learned that pausing the company to analyze, focus, debate, challenge and ask tough questions including "Are these things symptoms of a larger problem?" And thus our annual offsite, our advance....became ALIGN - our signature company gathering where every team member and the company emerges more aligned than when we arrived.
The agenda is always different, crafted to tackle what alignment we need at that exact time. Sometimes that agenda is thrown out 1 hour upon arrival when we discover the most important thing we need to focus on...wasn't the agenda. We've team-built, watched the sun rise together, put on silly outfits, whiteboarded, blindfolded, whatever it takes us to make a breakthrough or present information in a different way.
As gathering experts, we've learned there's only 2 necessary things for a gathering. The first is a group of people. The second is a purpose.
Coming together to help Ember move forward in a straight line - all together - that works for our most important gathering of the year.