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The 10 Ps of Senior Team Events

Posted: 15th August 2017

Strategic reviews, business planning meetings, and budget setting rounds are only a few weeks or months away for many businesses.

Now is a great time to think about what kind of events your Board and executive team are going to need to make the most of your time, particularly if you are thinking about going offsite.

Here is a framework of 10 Ps. We hope you find these helpful.

Get in touch if we can help in any way. And note that we are running a Business Book Walk in the Pentlands on Thu 17 Aug about “Extreme Ownership”, the philosophy and practice of leadership by the US Navy SEALS. Information and booking here.

1. Purpose

Are you clear about the purpose of your event or meeting? Keep strategy and operations separate. Mixing your thinking modes will lose people and cause confusion.

Do you need an agenda-driven meeting, or a more creative and developmental inquiry-based event? If you haven’t tried the latter, this could be an exciting learning opportunity.

2. Ph’un and Ph’izz

If you are after some lighthearted fun and fizz then you need to consider a specialist provider. Not us. We think you may be wasting your time and money unless your clear purpose is around reward.

3. Place

Operational discussions are often best conducted in the workplace. Go offsite if you need to do some fresh thinking, have big conversations, and plan bold moves.

And for crying out loud, don’t just replace the office conference room with a hotel conference room! We work a lot with Board and executive teams using a blend of indoors and outdoors. See why here.

4. Professionals

Are you going to self-facilitate, use internal staff, or engage external facilitators? If the latter, make sure they are experienced, qualified, and insured for the activities you need their support for. And make sure they produce a risk management plan to underpin anything that is more than just another day in a conference room!

5. Prep

In our experience the most productive Board and executive team events are based on pre-event engagement with participants. And we don’t mean just chucking them some reading like a hefty Board pack or some out of context articles from Harvard Business Review.

If you want to generate excitement and anticipation, and get the creative juices flowing, then do something which sparks their imagination, engages their emotions, and spins up their desire to share their ideas and points of view.

One-to-ones around a compelling inquiry theme, based on a framework of strengths-based questions is a great way of doing this. This will help identify the themes your Board or team feel strongly about. And if these are recognised in the design of the event, the engagement process will help spin up collective buy-in.

6. Plans

This may seem obvious, but make sure you have some sort of plan that addresses these 10 P’s. Not too much detail however, especially around timings. Build in flexibility. Have an agreed intention and a flow which will achieve this.

Do make sure that admin and logistics are sorted. Getting this wrong will just annoy people and distract them from the business of the day. That said, you might be amused to discover who finds late, cold coffee a trigger for a major anger strop!

7. People

Who needs to participate? Do they know? Are they available? Are they up for the pre-event process? How will you deal with any last minute absences?

If you are engaging external facilitators, are you going to let them drive the event design in consultation with you? [Trick question: the answer if yes!].

And what about external contributors? They can offer specialist content, perspective, and challenge. Really think about how you can use them. Work with your facilitators on this. Build them into the energy and creativity of the event.

8. Props

Sometimes an empty room with just a circle of chairs, or a hillside and a well-earned sandwich, are the most powerful spaces you can create. Simplicity and real human connection. The magic happens “between the noses” so to speak.

Have you considered how a walking meeting could generate some great conversations? We do a lot of these for our clients. Check out our 60 second video here for some ideas.

As it happens we are running a Business Book Walk in the Pentlands on Thu 17 Aug (Yes! This week for many of you reading this) on “Extreme Ownership”, a book about the philosophy and practice of leadership by the US Navy SEALS. Information and booking here.

Again, good facilitators will plan the props that make best use of the space to serve your event’s needs.

9. Products

What will be the tangible outputs of your event? In what form? How do they support your purpose and contribute to the outcomes you want? What will you do with these outputs?

10. Post-Event

How will you make the event count? What will you be communicating outwards as a result of your event? Who will do what? With whom? With what? How? And when?

How will you evaluate the event? Good facilitators will have pushed you to agree an evaluation plan early on in the design phase.


If you have found this stimulating, we would love to help you explore the framework more deeply.

One such opportunity is the Fresh Air Business Walk we will be leading in the Pentland Hills on Thursday 17th August. Full information and booking is on Eventbrite here.

We can also offer masterclasses, programmes, and coaching in the workplace.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Dave Stewart
Manging Director
The Fresh Air Learning Company
Tel: 0800 052 7900

fresh air

The Fresh Air Learning Company is on a mission to breathe fresh air into the effectiveness and resilience of boards, senior teams and leaders.

Why? We know how shifts in self-awareness, trust, collective thinking, courageous conversations, and powerful storytelling can lift an organisation. Been there. Done it. And now helping others dodge the risks and leap ahead of avoidable underperformance.

How? Bespoke experiences, journeys and programmes. Outdoors. Indoors. The right place for the client. Powerful. Unforgettable.

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