A leadership off-site can be a galvanizing occasion that brings your global team together to learn, socialize, communicate, align, and agree. But the best events do more than invigorate participants — they yield tangible outcomes.
After all, you’re not just trying to give employees useful information. You want them to gain new insights and apply them to drive real business outcomes. The more engaged they are, the more likely they are to bring new approaches back to their daily work. The more they retain, the more you’ll see it in action throughout your organization.
Using digital tools and tactics is the surest way to help organizers, sponsors, and participants achieve those crucial tangible outcomes. You will come away with a more engaged and aligned leadership team, you will have created tangible work products, and you will have harnessed inputs and data from the group to future-proof the company’s strategy. It’s also a chance to highlight the C-suite’s alignment with high-impact strategies, and signal that you are serious about taking the company more digital.
Go Digital to Get Tangible
Digital tools enhance your team’s learning journeys. That’s because a parade of PowerPoint presentations is, quite simply, boring. Even if these presentations share new and interesting insights, no one really learns by listening passively. The “banking” model of education, as defined by Paulo Friere, occurs when students are treated as repositories for knowledge to be deposited by teachers. Friere rejected this as oppressive and ineffective, and educators across the globe have increasingly followed suit. Why, then, do business leaders continue to use it?
Active discussions, business simulations, and collaborating to produce new knowledge — that’s how learning happens. Participants come alive and, more important, can translate their event experience to real business outcomes. Digital tools can enhance this effect, bringing your global teams together to create high-impact leadership events.
For example, you could use an event to create a playbook to future-proof your organization’s strategy from hidden risks. To do this, you could leverage digital and mobile tech to crowdsource solutions, then rate and gather comments on ideas from attendees. This will let you generate more quality responses in less time. Equally important: Your team is far more likely to come away aligned with and endorsing the resulting decisions.
Finally, if you pass up digital technology at your event, you’ve missed a priceless opportunity to gather open and honest data from some of your top performers. If you’ve got your best 200 people in the same room, why not use that time to tap into their intelligence and get ideas, mindset shift, and alignment in real time? Using digital tools at leadership off-sites can do just that. Flip charts and voting dots can be fun, but the process of aggregating and transcribing them can be tedious and costly. And by the time you’ve finished reading them out one by one, the monotony will have lost you your audience.
Solutions, Not Gimmicks
Digital tools, like any other technology, are effective only if they’re solving a specific problem. Don’t let the idea that you have to use digital drive you to choose apps at random. Instead, start by defining your desired outcomes and look to digital as you design the overall experience.
Think about the type of data you want to deliver to your audience versus the types of data you want to generate from your audience. Is the goal to align on a new product or strategy? Are you trying to generate more buy-in for a certain KPI? Are you hoping to train attendees and develop certain leadership skills that need improvement?
Once you know your goals, you can determine the types of activities that will support your desired outcomes and design the digital experience accordingly. Maybe it’s gamification or business simulation of certain interactions. Mobile and social elements enhance presentations and, at scale, the entire event. Over and above what happens in the room, these elements also foster connections among employees that lasts long after the event ends.
If you are taking a more interactive approach for the first time, be strategic about when and where you go digital. You may want to combine two basic presentations with a three-hour learning experience that covers a relevant topic and transitions between the two. Or you may simply want to add smaller digital components that trigger interaction within each presentation.
Finally, reflect on what happens after the event, when everyone has gone back their day-to-day routines. Digital tools can be used to help leaders who participated in the event cascade parts of the experience to their people in an interactive, outcome-focused way. This approach uses the leader as teacher model, making it easy to facilitate brief ad-hoc sessions with their team, giving their people the opportunity to discuss, provide inputs and practice in the flow of their normal work together.
The goal for an off-site leadership event is to bring your global team together to achieve high-impact outcomes with a lasting impact on your organization. Digital technologies will facilitate those conversations and let your leaders use their learning to benefit the company.
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