Peery Foundation Team Retreat Debrief

Written by: Jocelyn Rheem

Every six months the Peery Foundation team leaves the office for three days for our team retreat. Last week was my third team retreat and decidedly the best.

Eat. Work. Eat. Work. Eat while working. Sleep. Repeat. It was great.

Each team retreat has a theme that guides our conversations and goals for the retreat. This team retreat’s theme was Essentialism inspired by the book written by Greg McKeown. The general principle behind Essentialism is to do less, but better, so you can make the highest possible contribution. It’s about getting the right things done. As a small team, we needed to figure out how to best serve our grantees, while simultaneously balancing other exciting projects, in a way that is supportive of a healthy work-life balance. No small feat.

We had three high-level goals to further outline our objectives for the retreat: 1)  to simplify processes and create an environment that facilitates a smooth work flow. We are always looking to improve on our existing systems and use this time together to really think through how we operate. 2) to build another layer of clarity regarding where each portfolio is going. 3) to strengthen relationships and build trust in our team.

We started the retreat off with an amazing team-bonding activity...bowling. We have some serious hidden talent when it comes to bowling skills. Actually, everyone got at least one strike except for me. I wasn’t too worried about it though, because I quickly established myself as the undefeated air hockey champion.

Each team member leads at least two discussions over the course of the retreat. To give you an idea of what our sessions are like, let me highlight a few. Jayson and Avani walked us through the Foundation’s programmatic growth in 2015 and facilitated discussions addressing the hard questions they are grappling with for 2016. The adventurer of the team, Jayson, led a discussion on risk and we all took a quiz to evaluate where we fall on the risk spectrum. I led a discussion about our office space and we brainstormed ways to accommodate our growing team. Jessamyn led a session (inspired by one of our grantees, Medic Mobile) where we created a hierarchy of goals for the foundation. We ended up with 11 sessions total with the topics ranging from team health, to grantee support, to influencing philanthropy.

Tucked in between all of our brainstorming and discussions, was an incredible hike in Big Sur. The natural beauty was breathtaking and it was a great way to rejuvenate in the middle of a day full of meetings. All in all, it felt like we really maximized the opportunity to have the whole team together to discuss our questions and goals for 2016. I left the retreat excited for the year ahead and all of the projects that we have in the pipeline!