By Anne Fisher, contributor
FORTUNE -- Dear Annie: I guess it is true that no good deed goes unpunished, because our office holiday party -- which took me six weeks to organize -- was such a hit that now my boss has put me in charge of a three-day management retreat scheduled for mid-February. The location, a resort on a Caribbean island, has been booked, but so far the agenda is a blank sheet of paper, which is up to me to fill.
I've never been responsible for planning one of these before, so I really don't know what I'm doing, but I'd like this meeting to be unique and memorable, and as productive as possible. Can you and your readers give me any pointers? — Smitty
Dear Smitty: Richard Moran sure can. A former Accenture (ACN) consultant and longtime Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Moran is CEO of Accretive Solutions, a Chicago-based consulting and recruiting firm.
He's also the author of a string of smart and irreverent guides to success in business, including Never Confuse a Memo With Reality and Fear No Yellow Stickies. His new book, Sins and CEOs: Lessons from Leaders and Losers That Will Change Your Career, contains a chapter that might interest you. It's entitled "Rome Is Burning and We're Off-site."
"Contrary to popular belief, retreats are really hard work for all who attend," Moran says. "Foremost, there's nowhere to hide. Anyone who monopolizes the airtime is assumed to be jockeying for a promotion. Anyone who doesn't participate is assumed to have checked out."
Trying to strike the right balance and still get some work done tends to stress people out, so Moran -- a veteran of many great and not-so-great off-sites -- recommends giving everyone a chance to decompress by building some genuine downtime into the schedule. More
Most companies say they have trouble finding the right people these days. A new book argues that identifying brilliant hires depends on a willingness to abandon the usual criteria.
By Anne Fisher, contributor
FORTUNE -- In retrospect, the biggest blunders often seem inexplicable. Four different book publishers, for instance, passed on J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter novel. A weird story about the adventures of a juvenile wizard and his friends just didn't MORENov 1, 2011 11:26 AM ET
Most of the conventional wisdom about how to generate world-beating business ideas is wrong, says a new book. Which practices belong on the scrap heap? By Anne FisherOct 6, 2011 2:28 PM ET
Three new books explain how to swipe market share from rivals, why some brands stand out, and the sneaky tricks great marketers use. By Anne FisherSep 19, 2011 10:07 AM ET
Scared about giving a speech? Forget trying to relax. Instead, a new book says, put your stage fright to work -- or camouflage it. By Anne FisherJul 26, 2011 1:13 PM ET
|Microsoft unveils new Xbox One game console|
|The Obamacare myth about small business|
|Stocks end at record highs ahead of Bernanke|
|Apple grilled about tax havens|
|Is Saks for sale?|