25 years of

Human Effectiveness in the Virtual Realm:
Can You Run A Successful 3-Day Quarterly Strategy Meeting Online?

pdfDownload the White Paper


In a world dramatically altered by a global pandemic, businesses have been forced to rapidly adapt their approaches and techniques. At Operation Explore, we have certainly felt the impact of COVID-19, and have been relocating all of our typical face-to-face programs into the virtual realm. Our first virtual 3-Day Quarterly Strategy Meeting was an excellent test of our technical agility, utilizing a number of new technologies in an effort to allow for a smooth and authentic transition into cyberspace.

The Quarterly Strategy Meeting began with an interactive activity using Strava, an app that combines social media and exercise. After getting everyone set up on Zoom and broken up into pairs, Jeff Boyd set up the “Operation Explore Strava Club”, a shared virtual hike which allowed everyone involved to see each others’ maps, detailing where the walks were, how far, and how fast each person traveled. Each pair stayed on the phone throughout the duration of the walk, and was given a list of questions to discuss. This exercise was a remarkable opening for the program, and was especially interesting given the international collaboration aspect of it all (see the map above). The second day primarily involved asking and answering questions based on the program’s pre-read assignment.

Virtual Hike included a check in on a variety of data points that was a chance to do a partner walk, virtually. Check out the results (we could have had them spell out a word):

Image 01Image 02Image 03Image 04Image 05Image 06Image 07Image 08Image 09

Check In Process that included how are you doing as it relates to COVID 19, what is your focus, what are your challenges, what are the Brightspots or what is going well?

Pre-Reading Assignment Review - we assigned two very timely articles for the team to prepare to respond to. We also created worksheets that allowed us to assess the teams perception of them as it relates to themselves and the organization.

One of the highlights of the program was the Public Relations Challenge executed by Nate Folan and Roger Woodgate on the third day, which they adapted from a program 2 years ago to make it particularly relevant to COVID-19 times. This 2-hour simulation focused on four different scenarios that might arise from this pandemic, and how to respond to them publicly in the context of the media finding out about such challenges. Everyone was paired up in Zoom breakout rooms and given 25 minutes to formulate a clear, concise response that aligned with the company culture and strategy. This exercise provided preparation and practice for scenarios that are genuine possibilities, using questions such as “The first positive case of COVID-19 has been diagnosed, how do you handle this with the media?”, “Are you willing to commit to giving part of your salary to frontline workers, here on live TV?”, and “So, how much did you pay the PR company to write this script for you?” to create thought-provoking dynamics. Not only did each of the scenarios intertwine in some way, but the feedback the groups provided for one another after the activity was immensely valuable.

I had the opportunity to discuss this virtual strategy meeting with Nate and Roger, which gave clarity on many aspects of the program and some of the benefits and misgivings of virtual vs. face-to-face programs. “There’s no replacing in-person interactions,” states Nate, “We’re human, and part of being human is having in-person contact. With those that looked through the camera and spoke with their heart, you could feel that human connection...their humanity could and did permeate the virtual realm.” Nate also noted that certain aspects of the program were more efficient online than they were in-person: he felt that there was a heightened focus in these Zoom meeting sessions, which opened the possibility for a future path which might involve more blending of online and in-person engagements. As the primary administrator for Zoom and additional softwares, this endeavor gave Nate an enhanced understanding of virtual tools for work that would typically be done with flip charts and post-it notes, giving him ideas for how to enhance efficiency in future ventures. If certain aspects of the program can be completed online before meeting in-person, perhaps the process of decision-making and having more in-depth conversations could be expedited.

Roger stressed the importance of being able to connect emotionally instead of simply spewing information. “The key is not to be too teach-y,” he says, “Form discussions instead of presentations in order to keep everyone engaged! Construct things well and make sure they are interactive. People really enjoy connecting with each other at this moment in time.” He lauded the level of engagement that everyone showed, and found that everything flowed smoothly and people connected authentically thanks to the team’s commitment, creativity, and preparation. He found that even though nobody was together physically, a team bonding experience was still achieved. Roger attributed the success of these “virtual adventures in isolation” to these key components: putting things together thoughtfully, having variety, posing questions, keeping people engaged, and replacing teaching/preaching with a more discussion-based approach.


Day 1

Day 2

Day 3


2 Hours


2 Hours


1.25 Hours

2 Hours

1.5 Hours

Strategy Data Collection

2 Hours

3 Hours

2 Hours


Jeff Boyd was very pleased with the outcome of this program. “If you had asked me a year ago if I believed we could pull off a completely virtual 3-day meeting,” he says, “I would have said ‘definitely not!’ But these times of change require agility, and this was a true collaboration for OE.”


By Kierra Boyd, Operation Explore, Inc.

About Operation Explore, Inc

Experiential Organizational Development - Changing organizations one interaction at a time.
Culture | Strategy | Structure

We help companies reach their potential, resulting in high performing workplaces. Using innovative learning processes, OE will inspire your leaders, energize your employees and invigorate your company. Our method of curating the right learning tools and processes result in organizational transformation for companies worldwide. Our focus is on the development of Culture, Strategy & Structure. Your organizational development journey starts here.