Surrounded by the Selkirk Mountains in the Idaho Panhandle, I recently had the great honor to help an executive team shape the path of peaks and milestones that will lead their company to their ambitious goals for success in five years.

Next up for them: Engage the whole company (around 100 people) to build the plan to get to the first peak in 12 months.

For this 15-year-old startup, the mountain off-site was all about taking advantage of this particular moment:  The company is poised for aggressive growth–in revenue, in number of employees, in products. It’s been evolving its executive team in preparation to lead this growth. It had an audacious set of five-year goals, and a discipline around quarterly Objectives and Key Results (OKRs).

The goal for the weekend was to make the audacious goal feel real via a roadmap of annual goals to get there.

Through empathy interviews, I knew the path to get there would first require helping this collection of brilliant executives become more of a team. Since the team is split across the US and Israel offices, not everyone had even met in person before. We spent the first afternoon in a team formation exercise based on the work of Patrick Lencioni and Christopher Avery. I loved watching each person connect to their own ‘why’ for wanting this team to succeed in its mission of leading this company through growth, and then appreciating the ‘why’ for each of their colleagues.

From that place of mutual motivation, they dug in beautifully to define a starting set of working agreements to help them collaborate effectively. New cadences were defined; desired behaviors described.

The re-dedicated team then spent the next day and half digging into the real work: Building a shared view of the company’s current state, understanding that audacious five-year goal, and imagining the path to achieve that goal.

A modified future backwards exercise put it all up on the wall–what steps and milestones might get the company there.  And most importantly–what needs to happen in the next 12 months.

The group was engaged, and debated passionately but respectfully. The resulting wall was inspiring.

“This is the most fun I’ve had at one of these,” one executive told me. She wasn’t referring to the horseback riding excursion at the end. She was referring to the effective collaboration, the free exchange of ideas, and the sense that they were truly leading effectively.

I suggested that the next step is to hold an event involving approximately the top 20% of the company to define the key initiatives that will move the organization toward their 12-month goals.

But wait — they want to go one better. For true alignment and focus, they want to involve all 100 people. They want 100 champions of their strategy.

I can’t wait to see what everyone contributes.

This is the work I love: helping passionate, smart people work together better and lead more effectively, with vision and heart.


To take your leadership team through a similar vision and strategy workshop, check out our recent Mile High Agile talk TLDR Your Strategy and the associated Strategy Workshop worksheet.