The Thinking Adventure
A Thinking Adventure is much less intense than a Thinking Expedition and the focus is more strategic and global in nature (a Thinking Expedition focuses on exploring a specific strategic "mess" that is urgent and requires very different, out-of-the-box results. The hours on a Thinking Expedition are extremely long and the thinking demanding, frequently running from 7:30am until 1:00am with no scheduled meals or breaks and spanning 3 or 4 full days - a Thinking Adventure follows more "normal" offsite times).
A Strategic Planning team or executive group is often relatively small, 10-12 people. We have found that 16 participants are about the minimum size needed for a Thinking Adventure to work smoothly; 16 divides easily into pairs and quads, ideal sized table teams for strategic work.
When the functional team is less than 16 in size, we work with the sponsor to include some "outside stretchers" to bring the size up to 16. Stretchers are people who know little or nothing about the problem, are known "out-of-the-box" thinkers, and who bring a different perspective and naivety to the group. Stretchers can be drawn from previous other parts of the company, suppliers, customers, previous Thinking Expeditions, or our School for Innovators graduates. In any event we recommend that any Thinking Adventure or Thinking Expedition have at a minimum two outside stretchers on the team.
Thinking Adventures are ideal for pulling together and developing a team, without having "team building" as an agenda item ("Okay folks, now we are going to do some team building exercises."). On a Thinking Adventure or Thinking Expedition there are no "exercises" - everything is real work. Tied to the strategic focus or mess being worked on. By the nature of their design, flow of events, and work they cause participants to team up and bond very closely and no deliberate "team building" agenda is apparent. Many corporate participants have been "team built" to death - and are not particularly open to going through another session or exercises that do not seem to relate back into the business or work in which they are really engaged.
There are two basic formats for Thinking Adventures: Both start late afternoon or early evening on the day "before" the Adventure begins. This assures that there will be no late arrivals and is used to ground the group, go over rules, roles and expectations, introduce some simple idea-finding tools and techniques, and sets the stage for the next day. This is the first "work" that the group does and imprints diffferent very strongly. A minimum of two overnights and two full working days are needed to achieve the kinds of mindshifts a Thinking Adventure brings out. If "harder" and more "bottom-line" output is desired as a final result, such as a semi-finished (B+) Strategic Plan or fleshed out Strategic Initiatives or White Papers, the basic Thinking Adventure working days are followed by a half-day at the end to accomplish that detailed work. It is possible for everyone to leave a Strategic Thinking Adventure carrying a B+ Strategic Plan and documentation of all supporting ideas and explorations areas covered during the Adventure - should that be the desired objective and final results.
We have successfully introduced low-level mountaineering and rock-climbing (top roping) into Thinking Adventures and Thinking Expeditions to work on team development/bonding while still working on the overall Strategic Exploration areas and the Mess. Advanced outdoor activities such as these generally extend the length of the Adventure by a half or full day.
Should you prefer to discuss your strategic focus with us directly, please click here and complete a
Thinking Adventure Planning Inquiry.