Facilitating Teams - The Art of the Advance

While successful firms acknowledge the need for tremendous teamwork, most executive teams do not excel in open, high order dialogue with one another – even when stakes are high and change is rampant.  Leadership teams at all levels have a lot of meetings, many if not most of them important and necessary. Yet it is not unusual for executive management meetings to be characterized by careful, deliberate presentations or report-out formats which are so well-polished that “real” issues never get surfaced. 

Differentiating an Advance from a Retreat

The “Advance” is a different sort of animal.  It is dialogue-driven, strategically focused, and sometimes quite personal.  We call it an “Advance” for a reason:  It is focused on the Now and the New – on the powerful present and the ever-present future.  It is relevant, pragmatic, and honest – an exercise in aligning and utilizing the collective intelligence of the senior team. 

And given that the real commodity of senior leaders is time, an Advance is a different sort of meeting in that it addresses what is most important for this team to talk about.  It begins by asking the question “What, if anything, has changed and how does that impact our strategic direction and critical priorities?”  This question is especially important in this time of increased complexity, speed of change, and global connectedness.

Experience Matters…Honest Dialogue Matters

Leadership sets the tone for either candor or carefulness.  Unresolved issues limit an executive team and limit what is possible for the company.  If you cannot talk about it, how can you address it and continually improve?” 

We have been designing and facilitating these leadership team Advances for the last 15 years. They are almost always described by attendees as “The most important meetings we have,” as they are highly strategic, very collaborative, and extremely relevant to the business in the Now and the New.