We are about to undergo a “Retreat” next weekend to discuss fundamental issues about the law school's future direction and advancement. This worries me.
I've only ever been on a workplace “Retreat” once before, and that one was badly organized—or rather it was not organized at all, and it ended in disaster. This one at least has a written agenda and professional, trained facilitators, who understand the academic legal environment. So there's some reason to hope that this one might not be a disaster. Nevertheless, I'd be very interested in any advice any Retreat survivors could point me to about what to do or not do, to hope for, or to fear.
Kidding aside, I do have a remarkable number of highly productive and interesting colleagues. They tend to be fun to be around—when taken one or two at a time. But perhaps because academia tends to attract the lone wolf personality type, most of us are not necessarily at our best when working collaboratively in large groups. (There will be breakout groups, which can only be good.) It seems there is an more truth in this picture than I'd like:
Plus, even though there is an agenda, it's only a few pages long. I much prefer an academic conference, where someone brings along something substantial that they've been thinking about for a while, and we use that as the basis for a discussion.
Update: Eric Muller says that retreats are great! In his account, the big losers from a well-run retreat are those “who are accustomed to just ignoring everyone else and getting their way that way, or the 'backroom politics' people who are accustomed to getting their way on matters of general faculty concern by quietly working the corridors in one-on-one, closed-door conversations.” From his lips…