Our team was all set for the strategic step back in Delhi. Flights booked, hotels booked, calendars blocked. But sadly, it had to be canceled due to some family health emergencies.
Our CEO Sneha came to the rescue and planned a new retreat, taking advantage of her planned trip to Bangkok. With her Ninja planning skills, we were in Bangkok just within 10 days after we first spoke about this audacious plan!
After settling in our rooms on the first day, we stepped out for a delicious Thai meal. Sneha brought thoughtful goodie bags for each of us that we all loved. Post lunch, we visited our workplace, a swanky office space in an upscale residential complex arranged for us by Sneha’s family and old-time Dost friends. We had a short session on introduction to Thailand and common vocabulary for tourists by Sneha’s amazing niece.
We utilized our time well on the first day and got down to planning the leadership meet-up. We decided to have an unconference-like experience where we collaboratively brainstormed on topics. We wanted to focus on where we want to see the org in 3 years and what we should focus on to get there. We decided to zero in on 3 main topics/themes and work through those over the next 2 days to figure out our strategy and key focus areas. We had a brainstorming session where we discussed our ambitions, goals, etc., for the organization and topics, issues, and challenges, both current and potential, we had to solve.
We ended the day with a visit to the famous night market called Chinatown, which was an amazing place to try local street food but not very conducive to the 2 vegetarians in the group, and much to the chagrin of the 1 omnivore in the group who was unable to sample the many delicacies the market had to offer. Eventually, we did round up the evening with a hearty Thai dinner.
We started the day with a field trip to a stationery store to stock up for two days. It was a good team bonding exercise. With our arsenal stock complete, we headed back to our work place and went through all of the brain dumps from the previous day and categorized them into different themes. Eventually, 3 categories emerged
- Growth - What kind, quality, mix of growth we want to be able to reach in 3 years
- Impact - How we make sure we have meaningful impact and use it not just for reporting but also for improving our product.
- Organization - What kind of team do we need to reach our goals, what kind of culture to build, and what issues do we need to solve or look out for as our team grows?
The rest of the day we spent on growth. We started by discussing our ambitions, inspirations, target audience, challenges, different routes, etc. It was a lengthy, complex, and fruitful discussion and we reached some critical decisions, next steps, and further exploration areas. Two key areas that emerged were
- Identify new channels of reaching users so we can meet our ambitious goals
- Diversifying beyond IVR with new products and innovations.
We also had an insightful discussion on everyone’s personal early childhood development over a sumptuous vegan lunch.
On the last day, we wore matching outfits and set out for the City Palace - a popular local tourist destination. Despite the sweltering heat, we enjoyed each other’s company and loved the experience. We clicked many photos, narrowly avoided some scams, and beat the heat with some cool, sweet and fresh coconut water.
While we gorged on some pizza and salad during our working lunch we dived into the second theme, Impact. The discussions revolved mostly around developing an impact framework that helps with new product development and incorporating impact measurement from the get-go for new products, and using impact data for better storytelling for advocacy to funders, government, and peers.
Lastly, we spoke about organizational details, including team and structures to meet our 3-year strategy, what culture we want and how to build and maintain it, and more immediate and tactical aspects such as resource requirements, hiring and onboarding processes, etc. At the end of it, we had a workable plan of action to build the organization we needed to reach our goals.
The productive and fun workshop started with all of us having vague ideas about how we want the organization to grow over 3 years. However, after some intense brainstorming sessions, it clarified what we want the organization to achieve. It left us with many questions we are currently working to answer. We have divided key areas among ourselves and are working to build a roadmap and take action to achieve the long-term vision and beyond the immediate tactical things.
After all in the next 3 years we will not only re-define early childhood caregiving but also play!