"An outstanding meeting" - these were the words our chairman Gert de Fluiter applied to the 2015 INAA Mid Term Meeting in Tuscany at his Friday night dinner speech.
And outstanding it was! About 80 participants and guests from all over the world came to lovely Tuscany to join the meeting and, what’s more, to meet again all friends of the INAA-family.
This year's location should have been a 5* Hotel resort near Siena, but only a few weeks prior to the start of the meeting, they cancelled all bookings due to change of ownership. So our new provider, Triumph Group from Rome, tried to find a new location in a very short time. They found and booked us at "Abbazia di Spineto", a nearly 1000 year-old former abbey. These days, it is used as a hotel, together with some belongings from former farmhouses. We all were housed in different farmhouses, and it was totally different from what we were used to when meeting with INAA. Dirc and I arrived on Friday, May 1st. We felt a little bit lonely in our farmhouse with only lizards, crickets, birds, deers and snakes around us. That completely changed when the first INAA Members, our housemates from the board, arrived. (But on Tuesday before they arrived, we felt so lonely that we fled to see our friends from Aachen, who also stayed near Siena, but we got lost and missed the board dinner… Unfortunately, Gert, who normally is reliable online, didn't check his emails that day…)
The abbey's concept is especially focused on groups and their interaction, and the concept even worked on us! They gave us the chance to create experiences outside our usual professional work, and to think "outside the box" – and we that’s exactly what we did.
Outside our regular delegates' and guests' programmes, we had some team-building events in and outside the abbey: on Thursday evening, we all joined some cooking classes in the cellars of the abbey: we made pizza, pasta and sauces in different groups. We were very effective and professional :) and we all looked great in white paper aprons and caps! The pizza group liked their home-made pizzas very much and nearly ate it all themselves before anyone else had the chance to try them.
My favorite event was the treasure hunt: (German: Schnitzeljagd :) - but I don't think this resulted from one of our traditional dishes!). We were divided into groups corresponding to the different farmhouses, and they gave us a plenty of work to do: singing, composing poems, coffee making, painting, taking photographs, smelling and tasting… We were all very committed. My group was quite big and Rodrigo even wanted to transform us into a perfect choir with show elements and a dance performance in 10 minutes. It did not work perfectly – but that was only one of our first exercises. We practiced to perfection and had a lot of fun! Looking around, it seemed that the other groups did well too…
The winning team
Germans love treasure hunts, rallies and similar challenges. So for me, cooking classes and treasure hunts should become traditional parts of INAA-meetings.
Of course we also had to work seriously.
In our program during meeting sessions we learned about building a culture of client satisfaction and the implementing of ISO-standards in our firms, presented by the speakers Chuck Weintraub and Armando Romaniello; Itzik Amiel told us about the art of attentional networking and personal branding. The board and the different working teams also gave us information about their work and breaking news.
All in all, it was an unforgettable meeting in a wonderful landscape with a lot of wonderful people. Thanks to Luca and Ines, the board, as well as Nadège and the ladies from Triumph Group for all efforts they made to make the meeting possible in spite of all problems we faced.
I hope to see you all again in Portugal!
From Birgit Graf, Neumann, Schmeer und Partner, Germany