Think Leadership Ideas

Big Planning Retreat Errors #3

the reason retreats underperform is not what you think….

As soon as planning for a retreat begins, smart leaders can start avoiding three big and all-to-common mistakes.

I’m not talking about having a long meeting but never crafting a plan, or making a plan but not specifying a time-frame or accountability in their action steps to accomplish objectives. Most enterprises organized enough to have a retreat at all get these basics.

Actually, getting the basics right can be a problem. The errors I see organizations perpetuate - again and again - often go unseen because the organization has the basics right and never look beyond them. And this can keep an organization - whether business, public agency, or non-profit - mired in mediocrity. Don't let these errors creep into your leadership or board retreat!

retreat error #3
Internal Goals, but NO CUSTOMER OUTCOMES


What the error looks like….
The retreat results in a well-crafted and thoughtful plan that nicely outlines what people in the organization will do, how they will do it, and how the quality of what people do will be measured.

What’s so wrong with that?
What matters is results. Outcomes. What happens from what you do.

And it is astonishing how much this is ignored by so many organizations. They set goals, but all the goals are about what they will do - without taking time to contemplate their organization from the customer’s perspective. They focus too much on transactions and organizational outcomes, and too little on customer outcomes.

Businesses excel at making money when their customers experience a distinctive value from that business. Nonprofits and public entities excel at their missions when their ‘customers’ experience distinctive outcomes. In short, customer outcomes should be the driver of operational objectives.

Exceptional organizations discern the distinctive value they create for customers, and then focus what people do and how they do it to deliver that value. They measure customer outcomes as well as the quality of organizational inputs.

In exceptional organizations, everything revolves around creating customer outcomes. It is clarity about customer outcomes that most informs meaningful direction and strategy.

How to avoid the error...
Early in your agenda include discussion, clarification, and articulation of outcomes from your customer’s (client, constituent, community) point of view - and then work action planning focused on producing those outcomes.

by Tom Stevens (c)2012
Tom Stevens helps leaders create and sustain exceptional organizations. To contact Tom, visit or call 800 727-9788

This article may be freely reprinted in your company, association, or publication (or website) under the following terms: that the author attribution, copyright notice, contact information, and this reprint notice be included; and that you inform us that you are using the article (samples appreciated).

Strategy Map Leadership Tool

blog comments powered by Disqus