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F-Suite - Away Day (Part 1)

Sorry I've been MIA, I hope everyone had a lovely summer, and managed to enjoy time with loved ones.
F-Suite - Away Day (Part 1)
By Deborah Okenla • Issue #8 • View online
Sorry I’ve been MIA, I hope everyone had a lovely summer, and managed to enjoy time with loved ones. Lots happening over here, with new programmes, hires and ventures. I’m excited for what the future holds and will share more in due time.
In September, we ran YSYS first ever team away day online. We originally planned to do this in person, as my friend Gaby, CEO and Cofounder of Huckletree offered to host us (if you’re looking for office space or a swanky boardroom for meetings, check them out here) but we thought we’d embrace the challenge of running the session online across two days.
Prior to working for myself, I’d only ever been to one away day, so had very limited insight into how they should be ran or what to expect. I spoke to a few of my founder friends, and Advisory Board for some tips and insights. Firstround have a great playbook on running virtual offisites here - where they explain the planning, scheduling, execution and feedback process.
The purpose of our away day was to bring the team together to define our culture and establish our infrastructure. So we decided the split the day into two: (1) culture and values (2) strategy and infrastructure. Here’s how day one went down!!…
Day One: Culture and Values

Show and Tell: We started off with the day at 10:30 am with the team presenting what they got up to during lockdown, from banana cakes, 5k runs to knitting and building playhouses for the little ones. This was a great way to kick start the day informally and catch up on happenings

I got braces during lockdown :)
I got braces during lockdown :)
YSYS Vision: Away days are a great way to present the overall vision of your organistion and how you plan to get there. I used this as an opportunity present to the team our strategy, covering the following: achievements, milestones, team growth, organisational structure, COVID-19, #BlackLivesMatter impact and new launches. At the end of the session I then asked the team for feedback, and hosted an Q&A for anything that was not discussed or needed a deeper dive.
Leadership Workshop: I also brought in external facilitators and and workshop teachers to lead on certain sessions (so it wasn’t all on me). We invited Tiwalola Ogunlesi, Founder of Confident and Killing, who run a leadership workshop for us, where we explored our strengths, weaknesses, personality types and how to lead with impact.
Values Session: Next, I facilitated a session to explore and define our team values. We used a ideaz board (an interactive retrospective platform) to brainstorm and ask value-based questions - below is a snippet of what we came up with.
Following on from this, I split the team in to groups, each group had to complete the following tasks:
  1. Provide a sentence or two describing what that value looks like in action?
  2. Identify specific actions that demonstrates YSYS commitment to each value?
  3. Define how this value showing up in YSYS today? 
  4. Determine would we continue to hold these values if they put us at a competitive disadvantage?
  5. Give an example that brings this value to life?
Since then, we have now defined our core six values, which we expect every team member to practice - as listed on our latest job opening for a Head of Operations here
Community Manifesto: We also set out to re-establish our community values. We invited Arfah Farooq, Founder of Muslamic Maskers to host a community manifesto workshop, bringing YSYS members together for an interactive session to define our values. It was important for us to ensure our community, who we serve, where at the center of this workshop - giving them a platform to voice their opinions - this is known as taking a “community participatory approach” you can learn few techniques around this here
Yoga and Meditation: We then ended the day with yoga and mediation guided by Jonelle Lewis. Summer was intense for us as team, adjusting to COVID-19 and doing frontline work in response to #BlackLivesMatter, so it was important to me to create space for this session, giving my team the opportunity to rest, reflect and recentre. Check out Jonelle yoga playlist here .. VIBES!
I hope the above provides a few ideas and ways to structure your away day - I didn’t want to make this newsletter too long, so I’ll share with you what we got up to on day 2, which involved OGSMs and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in the next issue.
As always .. let me know how you get on by using the hashtag #FSuite.

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Deborah Okenla

Musings and resources for Founders transitioning into CEO roles.

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