Sometimes the best way to win
is to retreat.
In the fall of 1777, George
Washington made an ordered retreat at Brandywine
Creek near Philadelphia,
the new nation’s capital to the British. Washington
knew that protecting the capital at the expense of
his troops was the wrong strategy. His mission, both
and political, was to preserve his small army at all
With the British Army secure in Philadelphia,
Washington settled into winter quarters at Valley Forge.
a winter of hardship and suffering for the troops.
It was also when the rag-tag American troops were taught
to be professional soldiers.
How does Washington’s
retreat relate to you? As a business owner, do you
sometimes find you’re
so busy fighting the current battle that you lose track
of your grand strategy? Do you find yourself surrounded – by
these employees, that company underwriter and those
customers – all
wanting a piece of your time? Are you missing out on
great opportunities because you’re spending so
much energy reacting to everyone else’s urgent
Maybe you need to “retreat.” Spend
a little time off the battlefield, preparing to win
Take yourself out of the action.
Take time out to regain that perspective that could
be missing if you’re fighting one battle at
a time. Get away from it all and take a fresh look
at your business.
Are you achieving all your business goals? All your
personal goals? Are you having fun?
about your business – where
you’re going and how you’re doing. Take
your management team and key employees with you.
the same opportunity to step back from the fray.
And seek their input – after all, they’re
right there on the firing line, too. Everyone will
to look at challenges and opportunities differently
if you add a little distance.
How can I do that,” you ask. “I can’t
close down the office for a day. I can’t leave
the office to run itself. My people need me. My customers
Of course, your people and your customers
need you. But they can do without you for a day or
takes a little planning.
No war was ever won without
And planning is what it’s all about.
the time to work on your business instead of in your
business – to take a strategic view of
your agency. Revisit your vision for the firm.
Make sure your strategies and goals are still on point.
your wins – and your losses. Update your
If you don’t have a Strategic
Plan, a retreat is a great way to start. (You never
really ‘finish’ the
planning process – you just move from one
planning cycle to another.)
Even if you’re
already winning most of your battles, a well-thought
out strategic plan will make sure your
agency can successfully respond to your dynamic,
changing environment – and win the war.
Planning energizes your organization and
makes the connection between your long term
vision and your day-to-day activities.
Planning gives you a blueprint for the future so
you know what to focus on today.
- Strategic Planning is
a key ingredient for success in the future. Companies
with written business
plans have 100% higher profits, on average.1
Planning sets you apart from the competition. Best
Practices agencies have strategic
share their business plans with employees.2
Plan your retreat.
You’ll need a tactical plan for your retreat.
the best way to ensure that you and your
team get the most out of the experience. It’s
also the best way to ensure that your employees – the
that don’t go on the retreat with you – also
get the most out of the experience. And it’s
the best way to ensure your peace of mind
will be just fine while you’re gone.
While some firms retreat for multiple
days to resort-like locations, many more plan
on a smaller
scale, using a local restaurant or other
meeting facility. The key is to make sure
you’ll be away from the
office. No phone calls. No interruptions.
No distractions to put everyone right back
in the fray.
The length of your retreat depends
entirely on what you plan to accomplish.
Don’t try to cram too much
into your agenda. If you’re going to
develop a strategic plan for the agency,
it will take at least
a full day. If you want to allow time for
training, or team-building, or to bring in
an outside speaker to encourage
the troops, you’ll need to allow more
time. In fact, many firms take the approach
of shorter but more
Win your battles and the
Certainly there is a cost to “retreating.” But
the benefits will be priceless – for
you – for
your business – for your partners – for
your employees. And, most importantly, for
By retreating, Washington
took himself and
his troops out of the action at just the
a month later, Gates and Arnold beat the
British soundly at Saratoga and gave Washington
he needed to ensure support from France and
Germany. Washington’s war was not about
winning battles. It was about the total political
independence of all
the 13 colonies and their acceptance as an
equal state on the world stage.
If you find
yourself focused on winning the battles,
maybe it’s just the right time for
you to take yourself and your troops out
of the action – to
focus on what your war is really all about.
A well-planned “retreat” will
ensure that, year in and year out, you’re
maintaining your total independence and dominating
your market. And
you’ll have more fun doing it!
Advisors, Inc., help you plan your retreat.
We do on-site and web-based
facilitation designed specifically to meet
your business needs .
1: So says a survey conducted
by Arthur Andersen’s Enterprise Group in conjunction
with National Small Business United, a Washington,
2: THE FIVE PRACTICES OF HIGHLY
EFFECTIVE LEADERS, A Handbook in Leadership Best
Practices for Insurance Agencies, The Independent
Insurance Agents of America and Woodgate Partners,
out our on-line
form or call Transformation Advisors at (530) 295-1083.