I think I have written, or should that be rewritten this post about five times in the last week.

I have started it on here. Moved it to Medium. I even thought about writing one of those godawful threads on Twitter. Nothing really clicked.

The main reason is that it just felt dry – dull, even. The words I was looking to convey my first major company session with my new(ish) organisation, Difrent, simply weren’t hitting the right notes.

So here’s one final attempt, that’s likely to be a bit rough around the edges, but I want to share it and open up what’s inside my head.

Strategic Away Days have been a bit of a non-starter in the past. When you work in the public sector and someone above someone you report to needs to be able to measure you, the notion of a “living, breathing” strategy is often consigned to the need to sum up what you do in a sentence – before working out how to spread that out over the next five or 10 years.

Your actual contribution comes in transforming that strategy in to a series of plans or tasks, that your team(s) will then put in to action. It was all part of the machine that too many of us became restless cogs in.

So we slip and fall or we break free.

Last week I went down to London for day two of two of our strategic review. Day two of two usually means day one involved some other discussions that you weren’t part of. So how is that different to what I have described above?

Well, for starters – the people I joined on the day, had only been with the organisation for a day or week at most. I have only been with the company for just over two months. Yet still we were being asked to challenge what was discussed the day before.

We were given the opportunity to find our voices, if we haven’t exactly found our feet or our place within the set up.

There was talk of growth, how far we have come in a short space of time (we, the noobs, were testament to that fact). We then discussed structure – flat rather than hierarchical – our brand and our intent. These were words I was familiar with, but in this instance, they had meaning. We were walking our way through the past year that very few of us had been involved in, but were given free reign to probe, prod and dissect without feeling out of place.

Then we were given post it notes and told to decide the future. All that we had was a set of headings, a stopwatch and an open floor – or whiteboard wall – to plot out the next 12 months. Sure there was planning for growth and operational elements in the background, but this was our space to get to know each other and share our ideas.

Which we did – and will continue to do. For now is the time to bring other members of the team in to the conversation. To work out what the strategy means on a day to day basis. So that it faces inwards as much as it becomes relevant to our current and future partners.

It will be our teams who own it, therefore they also have to be part of it.

So with the strategy growing and brand/identity being updated alongside it, now is a very good time to work for Difrent. Now is definitely the right time for new partners to work with us.

Being part of a single day in the life of a company reminded me just why I joined – why all new team members will hopefully feel the same.

Chris Written by:

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