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Planning an "advance" for innovators

I recently attended a weekend retreat for innovators, something I had forgotten I need. It was fun but there were also frustrations. Seth Godin pinpoints some... 

An idea which really struck me was having a poker game, or some other activity where we have to manage chance and random results. 

Seth's Blog: How to organize a retreat, 2010-Dec-15 by Seth Godin

...An advance*. Retreat is too negative).... 

I've been to a bunch and here's what I've learned, in no particular order:

Must be off site, with no access to electronic interruption

Should be intense. Save the rest and relaxation for afterwards

Create a dossier on each attendee in advance, with a photo and a non-humble CV of who they are and what they do and what their goals are

Never (never) have people go around a circle and say their name and what they do and their favorite kind of vegetable or whatever.... 

Instead, a week ahead of time, give each person an assignment for a presentation at the event. It might be the answer to a question like, "what are you working on," or "what's bothering you," or "what can you teach us." Each person gets 300 seconds, that's it.

Have 11 people present their five minutes in an hour. Never do more than an hour in a row. The attendees now have a hook, something to talk to each presenter about in the hallway or the men's room. "I disagree with what you said this morning…"... 

Invite a poker instructor or a horseshoe expert in to give a lesson and then follow it with a competition.

Challenge attendees to describe a favorite film scene to you before the event. Pick a few and show them, then discuss.

Don't serve boring food.

Use nametags at all times. Write the person's first name REALLY big....

Create an online site so attendees can check in after the event, swap email addresses or post promised links.

Take a ton of pictures. Post them as the advance progresses.

*Seth gives credit for this term to Alan and Bill, the founders of Fast Company magazine.