CEO’s & HR leaders should be measuring company culture on an ongoing basis for success.
I’m not writing a post for a post’s sake — for the first time in a while it felt like we achieved something that felt meaningful and helped us steer the team in the right direction.
We had our retreat in a remote little town on the West Coast of South Africa, called Elands bay.
Why Elands? There is nothing to do besides relax, connect and surf (yes, 1/2 of our team surfs).
Being involved in a fast growing startup, we don’t often get to connect and I wanted a place where we could really get to know each other and not be in a town where there are loads of shops, activities & distractions.
We took the day off away from the office and took a slow drive (about 2 hours), stopping off at the harbour when we arrived, then settled in. We took a long stroll to embrace the sunset, kicked the weekend off with a burger braai (that’s a BBQ if you are not South African) and jammed some ukelele covers until the board games came out. 🤓
After sleeping in and having breakfast, we kicked off our planning session for the next 6 months. We chose the morning because we knew that 40ºC weather was on the way. ☀
I’ve been involved in loads of leadership and coaching frameworks, but to be honest I find most of them laborious and more administrative than effective.
Hence, we chose the V2MOM framework, which Marc Benioff established at Salesforce. They’ve been using it since 1999 and it works great for every phase in the lifecycle of an organisation. These are the basic questions we asked each other and voted up as a team:
1. VISION (What do you want?)
2. VALUES (What’s important about it?)
3. METHODS (How do you get it?)
4. OBSTACLES (What might stand in the way?)
5. MEASURES (How will you know when you have it?)
We all wrote down our interpretations on each of these points and voted them up with sticky notes.
This helped us realise that we have various methods, obstacles and measures. We honed these and then clarified our goals in Hi5 for the next 6 months. This was really helpful as most of us have been very T-Shaped, however now that our team has doubled in size, we can divide, focus and conquer.
We ascertained that we will need to double our team for next year, so if you’re looking to join, please take a look at the positions available.
We clarified and fine-tuned our values, which are listed on ValuesCreator.com
After our first session, we took a mid-morning break to pick some mussels from the rocks for our evening starter dish.
Before the retreat we sent out a simple survey to our clients asking simple questions like what they like and don’t like about Hi5. We were really surprised with the response & feedback we received, as well as the effort that our customers put into their feedback.
We then discussed what an “11 Star Experience” would be for any users on Hi5.
This is based on Brian Chesky’s discussion with Reid Hoffman on Masters of Scale, you can listen to the whole episode here. It comes down to this, If you want to build something that’s truly viral you have to create a total mind-blowing experience that you would tell everyone about.
We all came up with ideas at different stages and voted them up. This was pretty fun and it was great to think creatively and dream of something that could really help make the workplace simple in the future.
The surf was flat, yet we still found some things to do. We ended up exploring the nearby fort and ancient caves with rock paintings. We also did a before & after experiment with coins on railroad tracks. 👀
There were late nights of eating together, talking rubbish, cracking jokes, playing games, staring at the stars & getting deep.
I always saw retreats as a nice-to-have when building a company, but I’ve realised after this trip that it’s really a need-to-have. Even more so, it’s important to be intentional with what you would like the team to get out of the time away and then plan around that.
Three days almost wasn’t enough! I think I would have preferred to go on for 4–5 days and split the sessions up. There are a lot of implementational items which we still need to break down & agree upon.
I hope this helped you in some way. If you’ve ever run a retreat that’s been successful, let us know! Keen to hear your feedback.