Building A Foundation

10 Jul


On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, Sarah, Boris, George and I took the quick ferry ride to Toronto Island for an exec retreat.  Toronto Island is literally a stones throw away from downtown at points, but it feels a world removed.  We stayed in an old school that has been renovated into an artists collective, which proved a perfect venue.  Apparently the island is actually a sandbar, which explains the nice beaches.  Shortly after the picture above, Boris was brave enough to take a dip in Lake Ontario in between retreat sessions.  So far I’m not aware of any immediate health effects…

The main goals of the retreat were to build the foundation of our relatively newly formed team (I have only been in the office for a month and Sarah and Boris have only been working directly with George for about a year), and to take the time to focus on the Important / Low Urgency items that are often crowded out by Interruptions.

In doing so, we turned a few models that National Office often shares with our chapter and overseas leaders towards analyzing ourselves.  The first model on the left is the 5 Dysfunctions Of A Team  by Patrick Lencioni.  Although I’m not keen on the negative framing that suggest solving problems rather than setting a team up for success in the first place, it is a good framework for reminding leaders to take the time to ensure that each of the necessary pieces for a strong team is firmly in place.

The second model (above right) is outlined in Steven Covey’s the 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, but I believe the basic concept long predates Covey.  It is useful language that is often quoted in the EWB office.  The concept was definetely firmly in our minds at the retreat.

IMG_20110706_141049 IMG_20110706_212003

We spent a solid and mentally/emotionally taxing two days learning about each other and tackling deep questions about the organization. 

I guess word had gotten around before our arrival that there were going to be some engineers at the cooperative.  The quote of the weekend was from one of the artists at the cooperative who commented “I’ve never seen meetings go so long and people work so hard at them before.”

Despite having worked long and hard, I think we all came back with a spring in our step.

One Response to “Building A Foundation”

  1. Darlene Webb July 11, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    Thanks for your updates, Mark. Thinking of you….

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