07 December 2005

Day 1: The 1st O1 Team Transformation Retreat

There was a great excitement in the air as the team reached right on time at our retreat site. Bright and early, we were ready to start our first day's agenda:

Agenda for Day 1

1. Purpose of the retreat

The purpose of this retreat was presented to the group by one of the Directors. The purpose statement read: "To bring Change for the betterment of O1." The purpose to a retreat must be specified to get a broad directional view for the entire team to keep in mind.

2. Expectations of the retreat

The team was broken up into groups and the following questions were answered and discussed: 1)This is what I hope will happen in the retreat 2)This is my fear about what might happen 3)Here are 2 ground rules we suggest to follow in the retreat.

3. Reactions to the data report

In the same groups, the team was asked to respond to what they found in the data report in terms of the following: 1)What was surprising in the data 2)What was not surprising 3)What was missing in the data 4)General reaction to the report

4. Motivational message from the Directors

Each Director gave their response to the data, the same which was discussed at the CEO Alignment Meeting. Here they came across as one united front to the team. They also clarified a few surprising responses in the data and misperceptions on the part of the team members about what the Directors' work/authority delegation were cleared out in a straightforward manner. One of the Directors gave an empowering speech which essentially laid a foundation of trust and self-belief in the team to get the goals achieved.

5. Sharing of O1's Mission

The mission of O1 was presented by the Directors. This definition of a Mission was utilized:
A Mission is a statement that specifies an organization's purpose or reason for being. It is the primary objective towards which the organization's plans and programs should be aimed. A mission is something to be accomplished whereas a vision is something to be pursued.

6. Sharing of O1's corporate goals for 2006 and 2007

Each Director took turns and carefully shared and elaborated on the corporate goals for O1 to be achieved in the next 2 years. They were clear, concise, challenging, realistic, and inspiring. A standing ovation.

7. Sharing strategies to reach goals

The Directors again took turns in revealing the strategies they had come up with in the CEO Alignment meeting to meet the needs of each goal to be achieved. They expressed their longstanding vision for the company through these strategies and made the team believe they could do it together if it was done right. Here is when the Directors came out more united than ever before in front of the team. The team did not expect their Directors to come together without a single argument, as was common occurance in the day-to-day office routine.

8. Team dialogue on strategies

The Directors and the team sat face-to-face and openly talked about the importance, the practicality, and the viability of each strategy together as a group. Each strategy was refined, and additional strategies created with brainstorming by the entire team in the room. The Director strategies did not change, but by the end of the exercise, the team managed to consolidate a lot of new ideas to make the corporate goals achievable. Another standing ovation.

9. Developmental Feedback

This was by far the most time-consuming and somewhat controversial activity of the retreat. It was put in by Mr. Yogi who hasn't used this technique in quite some time, but the Directors were insistent upon it as there was a lot to be said out in the open. Cultural norms allowed for such an activity. Ground rules were laid down which reminded people not to take anything personally, allowing them to ignore what they didn't want to take as advice, and being able to express their surprise at what was being told to them in terms of how they needed to change. At the end of this activity, the team was given an assignment to list down 3 'Change Goals' for themselves based on the feedback they received from the rest of the team.
Each team member was to go outside for 5 minutes, while the rest of the team in the room discussed areas that the person needed to improve on to be more effective. The rule was that the developmental feedback would be positive in nature rather than be blatant criticism. Thus, Mr. Yogi specifically made sure that comments were made in terms of "It would be effective if you were more..." rather than "You don't do this well at all.. you are bad at..." This activity had the Directors be on equal par with the rest of the team, as they too received open developmental feedback.

So it was a wonderful first day's work for O1. The team sang songs at dinner with one of the team members bringing in a traditional drum instrument. The only rule these guys were not going to follow seemed to be the early-to-bed rule.


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