Why All-Day Sessions Don’t Work
take on big projects better with shorter sessions
I don’t like locking people in a room for 8 hours.
I realize answering the question “Where do we want to be in three years?” takes a lot of effort and thoughtfulness to answer well.
But despite retreats and all-day sessions being the norm for this type of planning (and many other big projects or workshops), I don’t do it for three main reasons:
1. Your brain doesn’t work that way
We aren’t wired to focus on one task for 8 hours straight. The work you do in the morning of an all-day session will inevitably be of a vastly different caliber than the work you do in the final hour.
By packing everything into one day, you also limit your ability to reflect or gather additional information.
Your strategy and plan deserve your sharpest contributions.
2. Virtual doesn’t work that way
Many of us run distributed teams, which makes a virtual setting the way to go. But if your brain didn’t focus for 8 hours straight before, it certainly isn’t going to do it well over Zoom, so cancel that all-day Zoom marathon.
Sidenote: It’s always good to bring your people together but trying to double your planning work as social work isn’t ideal. Pick one thing and do it well.
3. *Cough* You can’t do it by yourself
Do you involve stakeholders in your strategy development? Or is it the C-suite poofing something up in the big conference room on Friday by themselves?
You should start planning by listening to your stakeholders, especially your customers and your team. Otherwise, you risk driving your company toward a goal no one needed you to achieve.
And herein lies the shift.
When you look at strategy and planning as a process with multiple steps, you can engage the right people and position them to do their best work.
Schedule a series of shorter sessions, preferably with each session being a maximum of two hours long. Ensure that you’ve sent information before the session so that people have time to develop ideas on their own — it helps you to avoid groupthink.
Then communicate between sessions so everyone involved understands how their contributions advance the process.