Strategic Offsites that Ignite a Profound SHIFT!

Strategic Offsites have the power to

  1. Direct attention to the underlying pressures of a potentially obsolete business model or strategic focus
  2. Set aspirational goals that are intrinsically meaningful and collaboratively possible, and
  3. Ignite a transformational organizational operating system to transcend VUCA and generate social evolution.

Strategic Offsites are essential to allow for personal reflection and authentic conversation. These elements are at the heart of collaborative inquiry and strategic insight. Unless you’re invited to think and speak, you often don’t know what you know, what you understand the situation to be. It’s not a question of analytics, it’s a question of insight, hindsight and foresight – thinking, seeing and perceiving from within.

Is it all about Strategic ALIGNMENT?

Yes and No. The executive leadership team needs to leave aligned, but not at the lowest common denominator where people are forced into holding others’ views. This will only last five minutes. However if there is an emergence of collaborative mutual inquiry and authentic genuinely respectful dialogue, they have the opportunity to become aligned according to the highest aspirations they can conceive and perceive.

The great danger is not that our hopes are too high, and we fail to reach them. It’s that they are too low, and we do. ~ Michelangelo



1. Presentations from Others

There is nothing more numbing than just listening to others tell you what you already know. Instead a great Strategic Offsite starts with doing the personal research to get new information beforehand based on a request to develop responses to a set of distinctive strategic questions. Then each person brings their unique perspective to the meeting, along with more enlightening questions.

2. Networking with Others

Networking is valuable but this is not a tea-party. Networking can take place in and around the business throughout the year. If this is the only time it happens, then that’s a problem. Networking is also largely transactional – what can I do for you and what can you do for me. It’s not transformational.

3. Breakout Activities

Breakout activities can be fun, and sometimes they have a subtle purpose, but really, if the business engagement is so boring that the breakout activities are necessary to make the event enjoyable, then the business conversations are inadequate. Better to have Intermissions for reflection, retreat and time-out in nature where there is silence for mental processing and opportunity for new ideas and perspectives to germinate.

Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action. ~ Peter Drucker



A Strategic Offsite pitched within the conventional world of what are we going to achieve this year in the context of market competition and industry trends, and how we will go about it, is insufficient at the level of the executive leadership team. This is not strategic leadership.

Questions that are confined and constrained by the market context or are focused on efficient and effective implementation of each activity emerge from the conventional 20th century mindset. While these questions are useful, they may not lead to continuing success due to the speed of VUCA and do not have the power to lead to transformational outcomes. Here are a few examples:

  1. What does success for the organization look like in 3-5 years and how will it be measured?
  2. How will the industry be different 3-5 years from now? What trends are driving the change?
  3. What actions are competitors taking today and likely to take in the future?
  4. What opportunities can be pursued to capitalise on changes in the market and/or to improve the core business?
  5. What new capabilities and assets will be needed to realize those opportunities?

Objectives such as prioritising initiatives, allocating resources, solving a challenging cross-functional problem and identifying new opportunities are subsequent conversations. Without an overarching transformational strategic agenda, the decisions made may be short-sighted and misaligned.

A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes


A Strategic Offsite needs to be pitched at post-conventional levels of conscious leadership – Catalyst | Strategist | Alchemist – where the team takes absolute responsibility for their ripple effect in the world they interconnect with and the event is, in and of itself, a consciousness raising exercise in Integral Leadership Development.

The conversations need to be held in a space that is a number of octaves wider than usual with an openness to emergence following mutual appreciation of diverse views, an openness to synthesis following insightful analysis of different datasets, and an openness to greatness following heartfelt consideration of personal purpose and universal principles.

This type of Strategic Offsite has the power to generate a turning point that leads to a greater sense of responsibility for customer and community outcomes, a greater sense of understanding of all stakeholders, and a greater sense of aspiration in terms of generating a better more sustainable world through the instrumentality of business. It must complete with a message that is purposeful and holistic, that answers the “why?” and will inspire all people to learn, grow and contribute to their highest evolving potential.


We can transcend the transitional VUCA world with a 21st century post-conventional mindset. Make your Strategic Offsite a Critical Turning Point for your organization with a SHIFT Offsite – The Strategic Holistic Integral Forum for Transformation! Find out more here.

“To lead profound change is to shift the inner place from which a system operates.” Otto Scharmer in Theory U advocates a process of co-initiating ~ co-sensing ~ co-presencing ~ co-creating ~ co-evolving



What is life calling to you to do in the world? What are we creating in the world that resonates deeply with you and where do you feel dissonant with the organization’s activities, outcomes and our stakeholders?


What are key stakeholders and itinerant messengers sharing with you about their perspective? Who do you need to ask open questions of in order to get a sense of what’s happening within and wishing to emerge? What messages have you received that seem to encourage or challenge your current sense of what’s possible or needed? [Deep dive journey]


What is emerging in the world at large? What are the issues that are receiving the most attention? What are the pioneers in the industry and beyond doing differently and why? What’s happening out there?


What’s at stake? For our people, our customers, our community, out society? What are my initial thoughts on this? What is our contribution to the good and not so good, and how could we best serve the evolution of the whole?

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt


During the Strategic Offsite we discover more from ourselves and each other, reach to our horizons to decide on a new adventure and generate a systematic flight path to continue the dialogue and ignite implementation.


Uncover common and diverse ground; listen to understand (not judge) and expand one’s perspective with a sense of wonder and compassion so that the conversation can shift from a reflective discourse to a deeper flow of essential emergence and profound presence (dormant capacities awakened)


Spark inspiration on new possibilities and connect to the future that wants to emerge within and through you, create a Transformational Strategic Agenda over 5-10 years to cultivate germinating seeds over time


Acknowledge the inner resistance that arises simultaneously to let go and let come, delve into Holistic Leadership Development of each participant and their team dynamic to lift higher self and group awareness


Agree on a Strategic Operating System that will cascade throughout the organization to provide an integral incubator for empowered decision-making, innovative thinking and increasing self-awareness to foster evolution

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them. ~ Walt Disney



Responsibilities for communication, implementation and engagement organization-wide and with diverse stakeholders to lead to an orchestrated shared effort that builds momentum and coherency over time


Open Forums augmented by Circles of Influence to foster organic cross-boundary engagement by activists and champions on system change initiatives that will have a pervasive effect on the whole


Ideation of prototypes to get the ball rolling and learn through doing through the course of new key strategic initiatives that will lead to the transformation and evolution of business-as-usual activities


Quarterly gatherings to monitor and reflect on outcomes and engagement, resistance and transference, impact on customers and implications for communities affected, to adjust the navigational pathway.

Make your Strategic Offsite a Critical Turning Point for your organization with a SHIFT Offsite – The Strategic Holistic Integral Forum for Transformation!Find out more here.

I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive. ~ Joseph Campbell



Generating a quantum SHIFT in performance and contribution demands an ongoing strategic conversation in a cascading fashion throughout the organization to mobilize everyone’s intrinsic alignment with the core purpose and aspirational outcomes.

This is not a matter of bottom-up and top-down decision-making, this is 20th century thinking. It’s a matter of empowering everyone at their particular level of contribution to make aligned decisions that are also intrinsically purposeful in relation to their own heightening level of awareness and potential contribution.

The organization must of course focus on leadership development and empowering liberating operating structures for this trust and collaboration to emerge. Team Charters replace a decision-making hierarchy where the next level up decides what is to be done, with an empowering holarchy where each business unit and team decides what they can best do to realize the aspirational goals and agreed outcomes.

People are more inclined to be drawn in if their leader has a compelling vision. Great leaders help people get in touch with their own aspirations and then will help them forge those aspirations into a personal vision. ~ John Kotter

High aspirations generate purpose and meaning. By realizing these aspirations, we’re creating a better world. A set of cascading strategic KPIs with associated targets help us to monitor our contribution and performance as well as make visible and transparent the outcomes that we are seeking to improve.

Investment in vertical leadership development supports people on an individual and team level to rise to their highest selves, release sabotaging reactive cognitive, emotional and behavioral patterns, and develop the conscious self-awareness that creates a greater sense of personal authenticity and community wellbeing.

A systems approach to implementation takes people off the treadmill and above the noise to focus on genuine engagement and mutual collaboration. Programs of work, projects and initiatives still get done, but not in a frenzied, pressured way. This is too stressful and inhibits the development of organic holistic adult maturity beyond the conventional high performing Achiever. An integrated system creates the opportunity for people to tap into their best potential to co-create the future change.

Make your Strategic Offsite a Critical Turning Point for your organization with a SHIFT Offsite – The Strategic Holistic Integral Forum for Transformation!Find out more here.

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness. ~ Victor Frankl


Forming, holding and maintaining a space for mutual collaborative inquiry, an incubator for our hopes and dreams, is only possible at the post-conventional action logic of a Strategist.Catalysts will navigate with an open mind, butStrategists can hold the space for others with a clear expansive mind. When our mind is clear, the sky is blue and the space is open and reverential to all perspectives, insights and ideas.

Achievers, while high performers in the conventional sense, do not appreciate space; they appreciate being busy so that there is no space. Space would dictate taking perspective of what they were busy doing – and that is a courageous inquiry that generally requires support and guidance from those who have navigated the emergent space of the future before them – Catalysts | Strategists | Alchemists.

It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about? ~ Henry David Thoreau

Now is the time of year to re-ignite your organization with Purpose and Vision through Collaborative Inquiry and Discovery Dialogue.

Make your Strategic Offsite a Critical Turning Point for your organization with a SHIFT Offsite – The Strategic Holistic Integral Forum for Transformation!Find out more here.

If you’d like to know more about the Make the SHIFT! Leadership Coaching and Strategic Offsite Programs, please email me at

About Antoinette Braks

Antoinette Braks is a Transformational Integral Executive Coach in Strategic and Holistic Leadership with 25+ years global experience. In recent years she has coached more than 50 Senior Executives, led many Strategic Offsites for Executive Teams, and Leadership Development Programs in organizations with outstanding results.

Antoinette has an MBA from London Business School and is currently completing her PhD at the MGSM in Leadership Transformation. She graduated with Honours in Law and Political Science from the University of Auckland and has also completed a Dip Intl Mktg (Hons) and MA in Management Research.

Previously she has led Leadership Capital Solutions with Korn Ferry Asia Pacific, People and Culture with Shell in Latin America and Africa, and was GM People and Culture with Vector in New Zealand. She has led Transformational Strategic Culture Initiatives throughout her career.

Antoinette is also the bestselling author of Executive SOSoutlining the 7 Proven Steps to Set Up Your Own Strategic Operating System. This book shows you how to rise above the noise, get off the treadmill and lead your division and stakeholders as an Inspiring Strategic Leader, showcasing a number of success stories from her executive clients.

I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read this post and hope you gained something really valuable from it. If you did, please Like, leave a Comment and Share it with your network. It would make my day!

Do connect with me and follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter. To see all my posts and keep up to date, please join the Strategic Holistic Leadership Group. You can also check out my website here.

If you’d like to know more about the Make the SHIFT! Leadership Coaching and Strategic Offsite Programs, please email me at

Published by Antoinette Braks

Antoinette Braks leads the design and delivery of SHIFT Leadership Development Individual and Group Coaching Programs for Senior Executives and High Potential Leaders to enable them to join the shift from being high performing achievers to becoming inspiring strategic leaders at divisional, regional and C-suite levels.

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