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pic_RetreatRetreats provided an extended length of time, from 2 hours to 2 days, for members of an organization to meet for planning, visioning, or problem-solving.  Usually retreats take place in a more relaxed setting, away from the participants’ work sites.

Although retreats tend to be more flexible than other types of meetings, it is necessary to have a clearly-stated purpose for the retreat, as well as an agreed-upon list of products, decisions, or other outcomes that are expected as results.  Enough time should be built into the retreat schedule for informal interaction and networking among members of the group.  Catered meals, breaks, recreational activities, tours, and social hours at the end of the day are typical ways of encouraging people to interact.

Retreats also facilitate the exchange of ideas, particularly among participants who do not know each other well.  As people get to know each other better, they may be more willing to share their thoughts and to express their differences of opinion.

Notes and products from a retreat need to be summarized and distributed to all participants, along with a request for any additions or changes that group members would like to make.  The evidence of a successful retreat appears when the outcomes and products of the retreat are utilized.