As part of Xcalibur’s participatory evaluation approach, Xcalibur staff conduct biannual evaluation retreats with our evaluation clients. The goal is to bring together grant team members to review their grant’s vision, reflect on their work, assess progress, and plan for future work. Retreats eliminate the everyday interruptions of the usual daily work setting and create a sense of bonding to help staff work together in a casual atmosphere. Planning a successful evaluation retreat may be time consuming and facilitating one can be challenging but overall, it is rewarding and worthwhile.
After facilitating an evaluation retreat, Xcalibur staff debrief to reflect on the activities and outcomes of the meetings and ensure the work from the retreat continues. Here are some of the deliberations for a post-evaluation retreat debrief:
- Review the retreat’s objectives and expected outcomes to determine if the meeting objectives were met. Some retreat components may take longer than planned and can impact the timeline of the planned agenda. If this occurs, decisions by Xcalibur and the grant leadership need to be made to address how missed agenda items will be addressed so all retreat objectives can be met.
- If changes were made to the original agenda to support participants engagement, assess the impact on the overall evaluation retreat. Quick pivots are sometimes necessary to keep the participants engaged to move the work forward. This requires flexibility and agility and can be difficult. Ultimately, these quick pivots are invaluable for the work.
- Review next steps from the retreat. It is important to catalog,communicate, and follow-up with action items that were identified during the retreat. This is necessary to help maintain momentum and ensure that the work is accomplished after the retreat.
- Compile and review participants feedback from the retreat. Feedback can be collected using a survey tool or one-one-one interviews. The feedback is useful to improve future evaluation retreats.
We hope grant staff find these evaluation retreats invigorating, and return to work with renewed enthusiasm, approaches, and commitment to the work.