When I ask a YPO/WPO forum what they wish to accomplish at their retreat, a common answer is “We don’t know. We just want something good. If someone cries, it will be a homerun”.
There are a few retreat goals that are universal. Usually a great retreat accomplishes one or more of the following:
- Bonding/trust building so that members go deeper at regular meetings. This is particularly important for new forums, but even mature forums benefit from a tightening of ties. This is often accomplished when a member takes a risk and discloses more deeply than in the past.
- Increase knowledge/understanding of each other. This is similar to the first objective and also important for new forums. It is helpful to know the full life stories of each other to leverage the collective power of your total experiences.
- Identify issues for future explorations/presentations. This is most important for older groups who may be a bit stale. A steady stream of fresh issues throughout the year helps keep the forum vibrant.
- Gain new perspective about yourself. Any exercise you do at a retreat should create personal value for you. It is great that your forum-mates are learning about you, but it is even better if you also learn something about yourself.
These aren’t the only retreat goals. In special situations, a forum may need other things – for instance, resolving friction in the group or raising the commitment level of the members.
If you don’t know what your retreat goals should be, pick one of the four from the above list and make sure your retreat agenda/topic addresses it.