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Innovation & Alignment: Our 2023 All Staff Meeting

We’re a fully remote company, but we know the value of meeting in person every now and then. A few times a year, we gather together for a focused session of connecting and strategic planning. We love in person meetings like this because we get to talk about the big picture of the company and dive into the details of our day-to-day work.

This year we met at our company HQ in Burlington, VT to reflect on what went well for our team in 2023, what challenges we experienced, and what we’re looking forward to in the coming year.

We kicked things off with a simple exercise. We set a timer for five minutes, and everyone wrote down their responses to two prompts:

1 - What do you want for Echo within the next year?

2 - What do you envision for yourself within the next five years?

This exercise is a nice ice-breaker for group meetings. It gets folks engaged and connects the dots between personal and professional life, short-term and long-term goals, and big picture vision with steps along the way.

As we collected all of the answers on a white board, we were inspired by just how aligned our team is with each other and the greater organization as a whole. We’ve always known that we have an awesome team, but to see everyone’s vision for the company and themselves was especially rewarding.

A large white board with black handwritten text, displaying a series of keywords focusing on vision and goals for Echo and its team.

Here are our biggest takeaways from the exercise:

1 - Everyone wants Echo to thrive. Echo’s profitability was one of the most common line items for everyone’s vision for Echo within the next year. This caught us by surprise; we know our team cares about their work, but it was encouraging to see the whole group’s dedication to Echo’s success over time.

Bonus: There were also mentions of StrAlign, with one person envisioning “explosive growth” for our proprietary software over the next year. Cheers to that!

2 - We’re headed for Innovation, Alignment, and Evolution. These words, among others with similar connotations (expansion, learning, leadership, stronger) were consistent themes both for Echo and individuals. It’s clear that for our team, work isn’t about punching a clock; we all want to grow in our careers and contribute to the evolution of Echo.

3 - We’ve got travel on the brain. Both in our personal lives and in our work, there was a consistent interest in travel. Some folks referenced wanting to travel on their own, take sabbaticals, or work remotely from around the globe (van life, anyone?). We also had several team members envision an on-site retreat in a new location – ideally, a warm one! This is just one example of how we're working as a company to not only support a healthy work-life balance, but to create an environment where all of us can live our best lives in and outside of work.

When you ask employees to share their vision for the future, you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes you have to bridge big gaps between what different folks want, and work together to bring alignment to everyone. But in our case, all of our team was on board with some key strategic values of our organization.

This exercise set the tone for two days of connection, integration, and engagement. We walked away with renewed vigor for our work, excitement for the new year, and some tangible action steps we can take to support our team and our company in both the short term and long term.

Want to bring more alignment and engagement to your team meetings? Check out our video on Best Practices for Leading Impactful meetings!


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