What are Corporate Destination Retreats, and why should I care?

Corporate Destination Retreats, or the leveraging of creative offsite destinations and experiences as a means to catalyze learning, energize teams, and launch change efforts, is a highly effective, but underutilized approach to employee growth and development and organizational change efforts.

Companies have utilized destination retreats successfully to launch initiatives in areas such as:

  • Leadership Development
  • Visioning and Strategic Planning
  • Innovation and Product Development
  • Business Process Redesign

Corporate destination retreat settings include historical or other significant locations as well as places of natural beauty and inspiration.

There are several compelling reasons why corporate destination retreats are effective:  First, employees, teams, and organizations learn through novelty and immersion.  New surroundings cognitively prime individuals toward discovery and active participation and learning tends to stick.  Second, both nature and history can invoke images that are inspirational and transformative.  For example, learning about leadership by studying leaders from the hilltops at Gettysburg or the shores at Normandy trigger passions that can’t be replicated in a corporate or hotel conference room.  snowy_mtSimilarly, being disconnected from technology and connected to nature can inspire passions and help organizations find their purpose and path forward.  Third, it is tough to “think outside the box” when you are in the box—the politics, distractions, and bureaucracy of the office suffocate ideation and risk taking.  Indeed, corporate meetings held onsite seldom unleash the honesty, creativity and risk taking that companies seek.   Fourth, employees come away energized and prepared to act on the action items.  Indeed, the corporate destination retreat, in addition to helping solve real business problems,  is a company benefit that can be leveraged to incentivize and attract high potential leaders.

Be forewarned, however, success isn’t simply a matter of showing up.  Planning, goal setting, and professional strategy, leadership, and team facilitation help ensure a corporate destination retreat is successful.   So, the next time you need to develop your team or launch a major change initiative, consider taking your team on a ‘get away from it all’ inspirational experience that can catalyze such efforts.