Tips for Your Board Planning Retreat

By Doug Eadie

Retreats have become a popular vehicle for involving school board members, their superintendents, and senior administrators in accomplishing high-impact governing work that could not be accomplished -- at least not as well -- in regular board business meetings.

Updating a vision statement and identifying and discussing strategic and operational issues certainly fall in this category. The return on your district’s investment of time, energy, and money in a retreat can be quite powerful, in terms of substantive outcomes (such as an updated vision statement) and process spin-offs (esprit de corps, satisfaction, ownership of and commitment to directions coming out of the retreat, and even emotional bonding among participants).

However, assembling the right cast in an attractive retreat setting away from headquarters for a day or two does not mean you will automatically realize a powerful return on your investment in the event. Over the years, experience has taught me that rigorously following four golden rules will ensure that your retreat pays off handsomely for your organization without putting it at risk:

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