Lumen Impact Group
Lumen Impact Group

Practicing What we Preach: A Case for In-Person Retreats 

Published: December 5, 2023

By: Cori Egan, Junior Partner 

You have heard nightmare stories of work retreats: failed trust falls; emotionally charged coal walks (any Office fans out there?); catastrophic personality clashes. Fortunately, at Lumen Impact Group, these problems have never been a part of our annual retreats, which take place in-person in the Fall each year. But, despite having had “just fine” work retreats in the past, this year’s retreat was different for us. We came out feeling like we had grown together as an organization and were able to move beyond some of the foundational “who are we?” and “what do we do?” retreats that we have had in the past.  

Turning the Mirror Around 

As a company whose employees work mostly from home, it is easy to stay our bubbles, put our heads down in the work, and put organizational health aside. This year, our retreat allowed us to practice what we preach: we were able to turn the mirror around on ourselves to assess our progress and map out our shared vision and strategy for our work ahead. Long gone are the days of deciding and debating who we are and what we stand for, like other more foundational retreats; this year, we were able to look back at where we have come from and where we dream to be in a year. At this retreat we honestly examined ourselves, planned how we want to help our clients, and created a shared ownership of the year ahead.  

We also rediscovered the importance of being together in the same room in an increasingly virtual world. Even if you are in an office, it is important to physically step away from those everyday routines, tasks, and inboxes to think about the big picture and forward-thinking questions. We were able to break apart into many small groups to tackle various aspects of our strategic plan, allowing those who rarely work together and think together to do so. Building this kind of synergy “IRL” and getting away from Zoom helped us focus, bond, brainstorm, and think about our impact in ways that virtual work sometimes seems to prohibit.   

Celebrating the Connection with an Understanding of Differences 

Additionally, this retreat allowed us to celebrate that we enjoy each other while also celebrating our differences. The structure of this retreat gave us built in flex time to do what we need to do individually during frequent built in breaks.  Unlike past retreats, we had fully autonomous personal lunch breaks, and stopped working in the late afternoon with enough time to let folks rest, recharge, talk, or play games. Understanding that some of us were excited for more social time and others excited for some personal space, and encouraging everyone to do what they needed in that moment was a game changer. This not only allowed us to start the next day with clear heads, but also encouraged us to focus during the day knowing we had a hard stop at 5 PM. 

Equipped for Real Impact 

All this said, one thing about this retreat remained the same as the others: what we do at the retreat must be translated into our real work world, making a real impact for our clients. It cannot just be one and done—strategic plans and commitments made at the retreat and then forgotten. We are modeling what we teach other organizations to do: turning the mirror around on ourselves to be better, improve our own plans and systems, and develop processes that will in turn help us create more impact for our clients all year long. This year, we are all stepping out of the retreat with a strategic plan in hand and an understanding of our individual roles to make that plan a reality. Thanks to this retreat, we all feel ready and equipped to do just that.  


"Lisa did a fantastic job with our entire strategic planning team. Her process was beyond organized. As a new administrator, I was able to lean on Lisa for her expertise and knowledge of strategic planning. She did everything from meeting organization and to facilitating subgroups, focus groups and staff culture surveys. Her work with the school board and administrative team was respectful, while also filled with appropriate advice and constructive feedback. I could not imagine going through this process without Lisa. She will continue to be a trusted resource for years to come."
Jamie DeWitt
School Leader, NexTech High School
"Lumen Impact Group has been critical in supporting Bluum’s efforts in Idaho to manage our $17.1 million federal Charter School Program grant. As one of the country’s first non-profit organizations to receive federal CSP funding, the stakes for our work are very high, and our efforts to help open, expand and replicate public charter schools face scrutiny. I sleep better knowing Lumen Impact Group has worked closely with us to build our processes, procedures and playbook for managing the responsibility of directing and overseeing a significant federal grant. I highly recommend them to others. They are true pros."
Terry Ryan
CEO, Bluum
"As a family-owned and operated company, we needed to preserve our culture and define our mission, vision and values better as we grew. Lumen Impact Group helped capture a variety of diverse perspectives and hopes for the future in a way that connected everyone involved. Lumen Impact Group helped us create a clear strategic focus and for our future stabilized our culture. Lisa also coached our leadership team in supporting implementation."
Mark Smith
President, Krapohl Ford & Lincoln
"Lisa Diaz and Lumen Impact provided invaluable support to Colorado Charter Facility Solutions during our start-up phase. I was the new non-profit organization’s executive director (and only employee at the time), and Lisa knew answers to questions that I did not even know to ask. She made sure the board of directors was set up correctly and that the organizational documents were in place. Lisa helped me establish the organization’s goals and ways to track progress. Lisa is organized, patient and kind, and worked quickly, thoroughly and collaboratively. She is a good listener and even acted as an executive coach/therapist at times. When necessary, Lisa can be direct, yet she is always focused on the goals of the organization and its success. I highly recommend Lisa Diaz and Lumen Impact Group. "
Jane Ellis
Executive Director, Colorado Charter Facility Solutions
"I have worked with Lumen Impact Group at both the individual and organizational level. As a coach, Lisa has a natural ability to get to the heart of the matter quickly and to ask questions that help her clients translate insight into action. Each team member who has worked with Lisa in a coaching capacity has demonstrated visible growth that has positively impacted individual and team performance. As an organization, we are trying to be purposeful about the culture we are creating, as a means of best fulfilling our mission. Lumen Impact Group has been a tremendous thought partner along the way and has facilitated critical steps in a collaborative yet efficient and fun way. Our team was in awe at how much we accomplished collectively in a short period of time. We are moving toward our ideal culture much more quickly than I thought possible, and I have no doubt it is because of Lumen Impact Group’s guidance. "
Kasey Miller
Chief of Staff, National Association of Charter School Authorizers