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Corporate Retreat Advisory Board


The Challenge

The CEO of a large public company wanted to gather the Executive Vice-Presidents from across the globe at a 2-day Corporate Retreat. The objective was to explore standardizing and integrating the corporation's HR processes worldwide with the use of new IT software. This had been a long-standing contentious and divisive issue. The challenge was how to allow the senior executives to express their views as candidly as possible, and to ensure that all participated in the discussion. The Corporate Retreat was also to be an opportunity for all-important Team Building.

The Solution

The company's meeting was ultimately organized as a Corporate Retreat Advisory Board. This re-branding of the conventional Retreat conveyed to the executives that they were all regarded as advisors to the company, which, with the skillful aid of the professional moderator, effectively predisposed the attendees to speak frankly and produce concrete conclusions. With the company's involvement, a set of key questions were developed to guide discussion complemented by a series of breakout sessions with mock-exercises in HR to test and evaluate the two options - individual HR systems versus one standardized and integrated HR system.

As an essential Team Building exercise, upon arrival, each vice-president was provided with several seemingly obscure pieces of shaped metal. Over the next two days they were asked to discern what the pieces were for, and how they related to each other. Ultimately, the participants discovered that the metal shapes were all parts of an elaborate puzzle. At the end of the second day, they were first asked to wear blindfolds and attempt to construct the puzzle together, which they failed in doing. Then, un-blinded, they were invited to try again, which they succeeded in doing. The finished abstract puzzle contained the embossed words, "with open eyes, together we can see and solve any challenge".

The Outcome

From the 2 days of strategically planned and facilitated discussions, the vice-presidents were able to reach a consensus on adopting a standardized and integrated HR system. Just as important, the corporate executives departed the meeting without animosity or disappointment, unified in their final recommendation, and cohesive as colleagues.