IAF Methods

Kitchen Table Board Retreat

by for . Last edit was over 2 years ago
any 3 - 7

Simple board retreat for planning

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Low-cost alternative to the Board of Directors Weekend Retreat


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    Setting: The Kitchen Table Board Retreat is an aftermoon retreat held around a table. It could be the kitchen or dining room table of someone's home, the conference room table of the organization headquarters, or a banquet table in the basement of a local church that supports the organization's goals.

    Types of participants: Board of Directors, Executive Director and direct reports, owner and key managers

    Ideal conditions: Held on a weekend afternoon at someone's house in an intimate setting such as a dining room or kitchen table. Also successful in a church dining hall or other space away from usual work with food service facilities.

    Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: Independent consultant preferred to in-house facilitator. "Magic Turnstile" effect crucial.


    Facilitators take participants through exercises which are especially adapted to the around-the-table environment and move the board through team building, understanding working styles, visioning, and action planning in four to six hours.

    Sample Objectives and Agenda
    Build our ability to work together as a board
    Create a shared vision for the year
    Determine big-picture goals
    Plan near-term actions

    Relationship Building
    Working Styles
    Action Planning
    Next Steps and Closing

    Use your own favorite approaches and exercises for each piece. Just be sure to think about the setting and the size of the group. For example, Fox-Lion-St. Bernard works well for a piece on working styles, but if you only have 5 people it doesn't make sense to have each "group" huddle when some groups only have one member. Instead have each person share with everyone their answers to each of the discussion questions. Be aware of whether the space will support gallery walks or other activities away from the table. The lunch may be key if the group is not used to socializing, or if socializing before getting to work is a key pattern for them.


    Usual or Expected Outcomes: Build our ability to work together as a board. Create a shared vision for the year. Determine big-picture goals. Plan near-term actions.

    Potential pitfalls: Trying to do too much in short meeting. Shortchanging the "working together" piece in favor of more "real work."


    Source: Ned Ruete, Making Space Consulting

    Derived from: More traditional board retreats, especially The Board Retreat developed by Richard Linzer

    History of Development: First created for United Action of CT Eastern Chapter Executive Committee to provide a retreat that was affordable in terms of location, meals, materials, consultant fees, and volunteer time

    Recognizable components: Team Meal, Relationship Building, Working Styles, Visioning, Action Planning, Next Steps

    References: Team Meal, Relationship Building, Working Styles, Visioning, Action Planning, Next Steps

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