If the truth be told, we probably stole the concept of Advances from our friends at Fast Company. We really do not know why companies call them "retreats" anyway. But what do we mean by an Advance? Advances move clients from awareness of the future into making futuring part of the ongoing skill set of their company. We have a deeper involvement with you.
While we believe that futurists must provide a vision, we now begin to look at what your organization would do given a specific vision. How would you run your company, or your division, or your unit, given a specific view of the future. The "retreats" that we design for an organization (and each is unique for each group) can bisect on either the horizontal or the vertical axis of the firm.
For example, we have been hired to create Advances for…the marketing departments, the strategy department, the information technology group, and the distribution component of the equation, and the "wetware" (formerly known as human resources.) These would be the horizontal cuts. We have also created Advances by taking any one of a number of issues like competitive environment, demographic issues, process development and six sigma and develop a multi-day event using our facility or an offsite location of your choice. These would be the vertical cuts.
We have enjoyed creating events for companies that provide futuring content and team building at the same time. For example, we once created a scavenger hunt for 250 employees of a bank. We took the retail managers from numerous bank branches and created a "service safari" which was executed as a scavenger hunt of service situations.
Companies that have FirstMatter create an Advance for them are, in effect, using us to create an ad hoc consulting project. Our absolute favorite ad hoc assignments are best articulated to you via the following 2 x 2 matrix (we all know the whole world can be described in a 2 x 2 matrix!!). The matrix shows you the type of consulting and the specific actions the client ends up taking.