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Unleashing the Power of Great Questions for the ED Retreat

Have you ever thought about what your organization’s soundtrack would be? Read on to hear about how we curated our own playlist and how it helped us in planning our annual retreat. 

Remember the blog post a while back about asking the right questions and the story about Erin asking a client ‘what kind of chair would it be?’.  If that doesn’t ring a bell, click here to read it now! 

We put the ED discovery practice into play for our own team to ensure we understood the intent, purpose, and desired outcomes of our team retreat. Working backwards, Erin and I brainstormed what we needed to know from the team in order to plan accordingly to achieve our intended results. Based on that, we developed questions that we felt would give us the ‘intel’, aka data, that we needed to make decisions. 

Here are the questions that the ED team was asked, and the purpose behind them. 

  1. When we get back home, what are you going to tell your spouse or friend about the ED retreat? What stories do you hope to tell them?

These responses helped us to gauge what was of priority to each team member. Would they talk about relaxing and being able to unwind? Meaning they are feeling stressed and overwhelmed and need a break. Would they tell others about how they enjoyed spending time together? Meaning that they value and have strong relationships with their team members. Would they brag about ED and how happy they are to be a part of it? Meaning that the ED culture is strong. 

One of my favorite responses that came in was: “What happens in Kananaskis, stays in Kananaskis.”

  1. If the ED retreat had a soundtrack, what type(s) of music would be on it?

This is similar to the ‘what kind of chair would it be’ question. It’s a roundabout way of asking what do you expect or hope the retreat will be?

The soundtrack question had 2 purposes. 

First, it told us the kind of vibe that the team was looking for. Some of the answers ranged from upbeat, girls rule the world kind of music, to chill, relaxing, laid-back coffee shop, to raise a little hell and girls just wanna have fun.  This gave us insight into the mindset that the team members were coming into the retreat with and we could plan accordingly to ensure we have some down time to relax and some celebration party time! 

Second, it literally became a soundtrack as we had Jen create a playlist for us that we listened to on the drive to the resort. Listen to the ED Retreat 2022 Playlist here.

  1. What would an ED client hope we are talking about at the retreat?

This question guided our planning for what the strategy discussion during the retreat would include. The answers shaped the discussion around: 

  •  potential pain/stress points our clients may be facing 
  •  what other services ED clients may be looking for
  • what advice they come to us for as experts in the industry 

An ED-ucation: What would you like to learn about from your ED colleagues? Whether something that you’ve seen them do or talk about during work or something that you know they are passionate about personally? It can be as specific as you like, or a more general topic.

As much as we wanted Chris Hadfield  to speak at our mighty but micro retreat, the budget just wasn’t there; so we chose to focus on the knowledge already in the room. I have to say looking inwards to our own team was one of the best decisions we made. We each have different backgrounds, skill sets and work that we do within ED and sharing that knowledge, mindset and best practices was extremely valuable and something that we will continue to do. And come on, we try to use ‘ED’ in all the words we can and what’s more perfect than our own  ED-ucation session. 

Each ED team member answered what they would like to learn from each other ED team member. Based on the responses, Erin and I developed session titles for each team member to prepare a 15-minute presentation on. A few of the titles were: Art of Learning and Enter the Zen Den. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post specifically on the ED-ucation sessions. 

Overall, the questions achieved their desired purpose in guiding our planning of the retreat itinerary for both social and work elements. And, as a side note, it also solidified the unity of the team, as without any prompting or discussion of the survey in advance of the team taking it, the answers were very consistent and had similar themes. 

Whether it’s a mighty micro retreat, a project kick-off meeting, or any other kind of gathering of minds, asking the right questions will set your team up for success in whatever you are doing. Think outside of the box, try and look at it from the end result to determine your questions and have fun with it. Surprise your colleagues with some thought provoking, creative questions that may not make sense to them initially, but ultimately, you’re taking a different approach to get meaningful answers from them. 

If you ever want to brainstorm questions – just reach out! We’ll promise to have some random thoughts for you!