WHERE YOUR BUSINESS TAKES A STEP UP IN AWESOMENESS
An offsite is a precious opportunity where you work on creating the business you dream to have, not the business you happen to run.
Daily, you work on execution and try to minimize fire fighting time, monthly you hopefully stop for a check on your strategic priorities for the year. A semi-annual or annual offsite session is an opportunity to re-test what you want out of your business, whether the partners in your business share the same utopia, and what necessary decisions need to be made to move your business towards the best version of itself.
SO, WHAT IS AN OFFSITE?
In the business world, if you bring up the idea of an offsite session, visions of golfing and team building exercises (see: falling backwards into your colleagues arms as a statement of trust) may come to mind. At Measure Co., we view offsites as a critical component of building the business; the foundation that drives you towards your personal and business Utopia. It provides a forum for taking a leap forward in value. So what does that look like?
1. It’s in the name: “Off” “Site”:
Literally, make it off site; not in your boardroom and not in your backyard even if you do have a hot tub and kick ass bbq. The intangible benefits of holding an offsite away from your day-to-day business/life routine is so important. Aim for a location that is inspiring to you and your business partners. At Measure Co. we’ve held offsites in Tofino, Bowen Island, Whistler and even in a wine cellar. Have fun with it. Make it a unique and unconventional location – it will inspire more creative perspective.
2. Who goes, who stays?
Our view is that offsites are for the owners/partners in your business. Team planning sessions are important but they have another purpose and should have their own dedicated time. These offsites are about business utopia where your business can be whatever the F* you want it to be.
3. Go easy on the ambitious outcomes:
The offsite is the start of the planning process, not the end. Don’t expect to leave with a dialed plan for the year. That is too ambitious and introducing anxiety producing deliverables will distract from where the value is truly built; on utopia alignment and goal setting. You should leave with the framework and accountability to build the right plan.
4. Have a structure:
It is important to have a specific agenda and manageable outcomes for an offsite planning session. Here’s a recommended approach using the Measure framework:
– Highest Level: Offsite sessions should start at 30,000 feet; that is, focus on exercises designed to draw out your utopia; what you really want out of your business and the lifestyle that matches it. Explore and prioritize these along with those of all of the partners/owners.
– From there drill down to strategic priorities you must accomplish over the next one year to move your business in the direction towards your utopia.
– Next we recommend looking at your client mix, in our Tools section Here. How you earn your revenue and your positioning in the market is a direct link to your fundamental business strategy, strategic priorities and Utopia.
– Nothing gets done efficiently or effectively without accountability; bold perhaps, but the importance of assigning accountability can not be understated. Assign one accountability to each strategic priority to own that area and develop the action plan after the offsite. This ensures each critical area will move forward. Use the ARC framework of accountability:
Accountable: Buck Stops Here
Responsible: Tasked with executing on the project/initiative/job at hand
Consulted/Contributor: Contributes or is consulted for feedback but is neither responsible for its delivery
nor accountable for its success/failure.
– End each offsite with something fun. Surf, hike, golf, play poker, drink. Make it the reward for hard work and focus. These are heavy topics and require a wind down.
5. Use a facilitator:
You don’t need Tony Robbins but having someone with basic facilitation skills ensures that you and your partners get the most out of your offsite. A skilled facilitator can help pull the meaty nuggets from a conversation, should probe to clarify vague concepts and perhaps most importantly allows the owners of the business to focus their energy on contributing to exercises and conversations; not managing them.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?
A full day offsite will take you away from your billable activities and things you need to get done, so why is it so important?
A Fresh Perspective
Your day-to-day may be awesome, complete with great colleagues, an inspiring space, and all the caffeine you need within a pebbles throw. Routines have their place; they offer efficiency, process, and dare I say comfort. What a routine doesn’t allow for is the environment required for you to sufficiently challenge where your business is headed and if, in fact, it’s actually on the path towards your utopia. That place where you love your business, love your life and make good money.
Many of the businesses we work with take on the form of a partnership and there’s plenty of good reasons why. However, like any important relationship in life, a business partnership can go through swings of joy/success and frustrations/setbacks. Few things can derail a partnership quicker than a lack of alignment amongst the partners. At Measure Co., we view the alignment component of an offsite so important that if it were the only thing accomplished it would be well worth the time. When partners are aligned on both one year goals and the long term utopia, it allows them to focus on priorities, bust through challenges together and collaborate for better decision making. When alignment is missing among partners it can be a breeding ground for discord, subconscious sabotage and an inability to push through the inevitable challenges ahead.
Prioritization and Working ON the business:
We hear this all the time; “I have so much on my plate right now, I barely have time to think”. In any given year, it feels like there are countless things you COULD do in your business; but invariably, there are a handful of things you MUST to in the next year to move your business closer toward your utopia. An offsite session helps clarify those strategic priorities and gives guidance on where to focus your finite time and energy.
Similarly is the fact that so many business owners spend the majority of their time working “in the business” and not enough time working “on the business”. Executing daily keeps the business running afloat but finding time to reflect on strategy, the critical pieces of your business and the path towards your utopia requires time spent on the business. An offsite session with phones and laptops checked at the door offers some of this priceless time.
While on the topic of working “on the business”, we’re big advocates of taking a personal offsite. That is, spending a half or full day, once every few weeks in a new setting (new café in a different neighborhood or a day-trip somewhere out of town) to work on strategic priorities that benefit from a change in perspective and add a little inspirational punch to your day.
As business owners, we all have our own version of utopia; where we love our business, our lifestyle and make good money. An offsite plays a key role in setting you on that path by offering a fresh perspective, testing alignment, helping to prioritize goals and is time well spent working on the business, not just in the business.