Disrupt comfort zones for strategy sessions

Want the next company strategy meeting to be full of creativity with real engagement from all participants? It’s surprising to me how difficult that can be.

Like many things in our lives, these meetings can become a rut of mundane routines. We work in a time of highly specialized skill sets, where each of us are responsible for one part of the “assembly line”. This can dull our creativity.

There are management consulting companies that specialize in organizing excellent strategy,  brainstorming sessions. For me, I’ve found that just hosting these strategy sessions in an exotic environment away from home and family can be very effective. At SDL Social Intelligence, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam has always provided a stimulating setting for our strategy sessions.

First of all, the sights, sounds and smell of HCMC are very different from most modern Western cities. Just trying to cross a street as hordes of scooters pass by will jolt most visitors’ sense of order. I believe such a stimulating environment that “disrupts” people’s comfort zone will ignite a degree of thinking from different perspectives. While some would advocate quiet, beautiful settings like a beach resort, I much prefer high-stimulant urban environments like HCMC. There needs to be a sense of one’s comfort zone being challenged.


Secondly, separation from family and its usual obligations frees people’s minds and creates a unique bonding opportunity among the participants. Add to that freedom the heightened camaraderie from experiencing the exotic environment together and you’ve created a ripe situation to resolve deep-rooted issues around  team dynamics.

Lastly, I’ve always enjoyed coming to Vietnam with the leadership team due to low-cost of hosting such an event. I guess I’ll always be a businessman watching the bottom line.

Of course, we have the unique advantage of having a great collaborative team in our Vietnam office to host us. They’ve always welcomed us as gracious hosts. Ultimately, if you can create a stimulating environment (different from the usual setting) and can get the team away from the normal family responsibilities for a strategy session, I think there is a good chance for success.