McKinsey just issued an interview with Pieter Nota who runs Philips' Consumer Lifestyle sector. The article was about his first 100 days at Philips and how he turned around the unit. In the interview, the author provided insights into Nota's off-sites for his senior team and how they incorporated "courageous conversations" where team members got their gripes out on the table and then collectively resolved the conflicts constructively. Or as the article says, turned the negative energy into positive energy.
But the lesson learned was an exercise that Nota built into a second off-site a few years into his tenure which I think could work well at senior management off sites that new CEOs often hold. The off-site started off with lots of blue sky collaboration on where the future of their business could possibly go. And here's the kicker that just entranced me because it's such a good idea. The day ended with a brainstorm on "the ten excuses we could use two years from now for not having made the aspiration a reality." The team addressed each excuse head on and committed themselves to not using the excuses to explain away why they did not turn their dreams into reality down the road. A great exercise for many of us. I can already think of excuses that I use as to why I can't do one thing or another. And applying it to teams is just brilliant to create greater ownership.
I am going to add this Top 10 Excuses brainstorming idea to any counsel I give.