Retreat Principles



The word “retreat” was explicitly chosen to be different from camp, gathering, open-space or conference. It represents a deeper and more meaningful experience of a smaller group of people. Our intent is to create a time for people to gather in a purposeful way for focused learning and growth. Our goal is smaller events with under 100 people to create focus and shared learning. Retreats should be a place to get away, think deeply, collaborate wholly, and come away with a new perspective.


We represent the Scrum Alliance and believe that the Scrum Framework is the best way to establish a goal and accomplish results. A successful retreat is based on Scrum – we form teams, create teamvisions, build backlogs, execute multiple sprints, review, retrospect and adapt throughout the retreat. This provides for double learning: the team learns about primary focus of their work while inspecting/adapting to accomplish a goal; in addition, participants learn what it is like to be on a team and live Scrum in a very hyper-focused and intense way. A successful retreat will foster the formation ofteams and the execution of multiple sprints for deeper learning.


Teams are the heart of Scrum and a key differentiator in retreats. Teams allow for collaborative sharing, learning and more impactful results. Allowing teams time to form, norm, storm and perform provides a rich opportunity for learning about teams and learning on the subject of the team. Teams also have challenges – team alienation, personality conflicts, leadership and role definitions, appropriate expertise, diversity, etc. Working with teams in such a short retreat format is a challenge and an opportunity. A successful retreat will leverage the pre and post retreat time to build relationships and lengthen the forming and norming cycle. It will also clearly articulate the team construct to participants throughout the process.


There are many events where broad learning takes place – conferences, gatherings, open space, coaching camps, etc. These events allow for many topics to be covered in a short time and are good for general knowledge sharing. A retreat is designed for narrow and deep focus on a few topics, possibly the same topic pursued by multiple teams from different perspectives. A successful retreat produces not only local event learning, but also take away value, documented results, and ongoing team collaboration following the retreat.


Most other events are short. You come, decide discussion topics, talk and leave. A retreat is a long-term learning, collaboration, and relationship-building event. A successful retreat has preparation work to focus topics, teams and prepare ideas prior to the retreat. A successful retreat has many focused working sessions during the retreat through multiple perspectives. A successful retreat has follow-through on results to carry the momentum forward into the coming year. We expect retreat organizers to help guide this

Shared Learning

Most gatherings and events have localized learning in sessions with minimal or spotty write-up and documentation. A retreat is designed for multiple sessions around a single topic with both inter- and intra-team learning. A successful retreat will allow for multiple sprint cycles with some room for shared reviews, shared learning and presentations to connect all retreat participants.

Two Sleeps

Borrowed from Future Search, the concept of “two sleeps” is a brain-related learning process. Our brains continue to work and make weak-signal (creative) connections during our sleep when our brains are quiet. By starting the conference in the evening and focusing on team formation and goal setting, it allows the brain to focus on the goals and start making connections during the first sleep. Then after a long day of working on solutions, the second sleep allows the brain to focus on resolving all of the solutions into a result. The third morning of the retreat should focus on results. A successful retreat will allow for multiple sleeps, and other retreat-like rest periods, to allow people to connect those weak signals in their brains for creativity and problem solving.

Slack (Proposed)

As a retreat, the schedule should allow time for reflection, renewal, rest and retreat from the fast pace of life and work. Most decisions are made with quick thinking fibers in the brain which are based on past experience and learning. In order to recognize new ideas and create new thinking, quiet time for reflection should be included to enable access to these weak brain signals of new ideas.

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