+44 (0) 7973 953586 paul@impro.org.uk

Veteran facilitators speak in reverent tones of the old days, when a leadership team would gather with them for a week in a grand hotel.

The sessions rotated serenely from comfortable lounge, to warm terrace overlooking a spectacular bay, to an evening in the well-stocked bar.

They’d emerge as planned with a list of priorities or a new organisation structure, then head for the airport and home.

Sadly those days ended shortly before anyone hired me to facilitate their events. Something to do with pressures of time, budget and carbon impact, apparently.

We have learned from the pandemic that it’s possible to hold events online that connect more people each in their own location, to work together with reasonable efficiency.

And yet… the virtual falls short when it comes to the quality of interactions. We miss out on so many cues, the look in the eye, the subtle gesture. People isolated at their computers tire quickly. And there are none of the spontaneous informal coffee-machine moments of serendipity in the breaks that so often make all the difference.

So perhaps it will make sense again to gather the right people for a worthwhile chunk of time in a real place. A retreat with a facilitator to ensure good design and constructive conversations. It may not take a week or need to be that grand. But a well-stocked bar would be appreciated.