We represent the Scrum Alliance and believe that the Scrum Framework is the best way to establish a goal and accomplish results. A successful retreat is based on Scrum - we form teams, create team visions, build backlogs, execute multiple sprints, review, retrospect and adapt throughout the retreat. This provides for double learning: the team learns about primary focus of their work while inspecting/adapting to accomplish a goal; in addition, participants learn what it is like to be on a team and live Scrum in a very hyper-focused and intense way. A successful retreat will foster the formation of teams and the execution of multiple sprints for deeper learning.
Teams are the heart of Scrum and a key differentiator in retreats. Teams allow for collaborative sharing, learning and more impactful results. Allowing teams time to form, norm, storm and perform provides a rich opportunity for learning about teams and learning on the subject of the team. Teams also have challenges - team alienation, personality conflicts, leadership and role definitions, appropriate expertise, diversity, etc. Working with teams in such a short retreat format is a challenge and an opportunity. A successful retreat will leverage the pre and post retreat time to build relationships and lengthen the forming and norming cycle. It will also clearly articulate the team construct to participants throughout the process.
There are many events where broad learning takes place - conferences, gatherings, open space, coaching camps, etc. These events allow for many topics to be covered in a short time and are good for general knowledge sharing. A retreat is designed for narrow and deep focus on a few topics, possibly the same topic pursued by multiple teams from different perspectives. A successful retreat produces not only local event learning, but also take away value, documented results, and ongoing team collaboration following the retreat.
Most other events are short. You come, decide discussion topics, talk and leave. A retreat is a long-term learning, collaboration, and relationship-building event. A successful retreat has preparation work to focus topics, teams and prepare ideas prior to the retreat. A successful retreat has many focused working sessions during the retreat through multiple perspectives. A successful retreat has follow-through on results to carry the momentum forward into the coming year. We expect retreat organizers to help guide this
Successful output needs both active thinking and restive thinking. We will experience two nights (sleeps) and two day to really dig into one topic.
Most gatherings and events have localized learning in sessions with minimal or spotty write-up and documentation. A retreat is designed for multiple sessions around a single topic with both inter- and intra- team learning. A successful retreat will allow for multiple sprint cycles with some room for shared reviews, shared learning and presentations to connect all retreat participants.