Investing in Diversity at the Inter-American Development Bank
- Washington, DC via virtual sessions
Customized four-day Strategic Retreat Diversity & Inclusion
(#Tags)cross-department collaboration, diversity and inclusion, ideation and brainstorming, innovation and creativity, leadership development, organizational development, strategic planning, team building, virtual events, vision and values
Since 1959, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has been the leading source of development financing for Latin America and the Caribbean. They provide loans, grants, and technical assistance to help reduce poverty and inequality in sustainable ways.
Social inclusion and gender equality are foundational to these efforts, so when the Gender & Diversity Division (GDI) recently hired a new director, they asked us to host an intensive strategic planning workshop for the team.
The goal was to create a strong scaffolding so that the group could confidently move forward with a better understanding of the division’s purpose, shared ownership of the new GDI vision, a clear framework for providing feedback, and strong alignment around results and processes. The event was also an opportunity to build relationships and team connection among staff members located in several different countries.
We had originally planned to tackle these goals over a 2-day, in-person retreat. But when COVID-19 hit, we quickly pivoted to a 4-day online retreat using Zoom and Google Slides, with 3 hours of engagement each day.
To make the most of our retreat time together, we conducted extensive 1:1 interviews beforehand to better understand the key areas of concern for the team members themselves. A consistent list emerged. They wanted more opportunities to support one another. Junior staff wanted more freedom to have real impact. And everyone wanted a clearer vision and plan for the GDI that would help them buildTo make the most of our retreat time together, we conducted extensive 1:1 interviews beforehand to better understand the key areas of concern for the team members themselves. A consistent list emerged. They wanted more opportunities to support one another. Junior staff wanted more freedom to have real impact. And everyone wanted a clearer vision and plan for the GDI that would help them build their reputation and create actionable, strategic impact within IDB. This became our roadmap.
On Day 1 we kicked off with a conversation starter to help the 40 participants get to know one another. Leaders shared a few words on GDI’s purpose, and the team had a chance to provide real-time feedback via virtual sticky-note activities. Next we broke into small groups to share thoughts and sort through the feedback. They wrapped up the session by each sharing a professional accomplishment they were most proud of that year and why.
“We have such limited downtime with colleagues during the pandemic, it was great to connect more informally for some of the breakout activities.”
On Day 2, leaders gave an overview of their vision for the group’s analytical work. Then we again broke into smaller groups and did activities to support that vision. What are the goals? How would you rank them? How would you measure success? Who would do the work and how? At the end of the session, we gathered back together to share our findings and witness the big picture emerging.
I liked learning about the new vision for GDI. It gives a clearer north of where we are going.”
On Day 3 we rolled up our sleeves for some process work to support the ideas and issues that bubbled up the previous 2 days. We did a Start/Stop/Continue activity to assess GDI processes and whether they should continue, refine, change, or adopt new ones. New small groups formed to think about how GDI could encourage new relationships and collaborations. Then we all got back together and shared the best of those ideas to the whole group, ranking their favorite ideas and drilling down to next steps for implementation.
On Day 4, we opened with a conversation starter about gratitude: What is one thing you appreciate about working with this GDI team? Then we circled back to the actionable steps we discussed the previous day, and people volunteered for the items that most spoke to them. Those action groups met separately to get into the nitty-gritty of next steps.
“I learned that the team really wants to be more involved. We are positive about future changes.”
Finally, we examined the action brainstorms from the small groups and formulated plans, noting what they thought success would look like in each of those areas. We ended the day with a training module on giving and receiving constructive feedback.
“I learned about the priorities and perspectives of other teams within GDI and how we can better communicate.”
The group came away with a list of top priorities and concrete plans to implement them. They also built camaraderie and created meaningful connections that they look forward to building on in their future work together. They now have a clear agenda with group buy-in, actionable objectives, and a detailed follow-up plan.
“It is possible to have a virtual retreat and get good results!”
CARIDAD ARAUJO, GENDER AND DIVERSITY DIVISION CHIEF, INTER-AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK
They also now have the tools to help them continue to nurture a team culture that explores new ideas, thinks beyond their area of expertise, and fosters trust through open communication.
With a shared understanding of strategic goals, they have the motivation and framework to achieve their new team vision.
To what extent did the project meet expectations and achieve desired outcomes?
“Met all expectations.”
The frequency of communications from Mindhatch was:
What should Mindhatch keep doing?
“This dynamic, creative work!”
“Responding positively to ideas from all levels of staff encourages them to keep bringing you their ideas.”