UNDP Rule of Law, Justice and Human Rights Team Retreat

UNDP Rule of Law, Justice and Human Rights
Non-Governmental Organization
Jan 2020

The Rule of Law, Justice and, Human Rights team is a part of the UNDP Crisis Bureau and has over 30 globally dispersed members. Their workstream spans a wide range of topics from constitution writing, to human rights, gender equality, digital governance and much more. Once a year, the team gathers in New York and spends a week together catching up with what everyone has been up to, realigning their mission, establishing goals and strengthening relationships amongst team members.

The Challenge

In 2020, the UNDP Rule of Law team was forced to go virtual and approached InsightPact to help design an engaging and informative team retreat. About 70% of the three day x 4 hour session agenda was pre-filled with opening remarks from leadership, external speaker sessions, and team updates. What Rule of Law team needed was someone who could:

  • Review the proposed agenda and advise on how to best utilise the time together  
  • Assure there will be no technical difficulties that could otherwise disrupt the retreat
  • Keep everyone on track and on time to make sure all topics are covered
  • Make the complex information fun and digestible
  • Last but not least, make sure participants are engaged and leave the retreat feeling more knowledgeable, inspired, and connected

The Approach

With that directive, the first order of business was to hone in on what the pre-filled agenda consisted of and check if it was in line with the needs of participants. To test this we conducted a series of semi-structured 1-on-1 interviews with members from across the team. From these conversations, a unifying intent emerged:

“Staying up to date with each other’s work is important, but a sense of community is what was needed more in times of adversity.”

To take note of this message we iterated the program design and suggested the leadership team carve out more time to simply hold meaningful conversations, share ideas and let the participants get to know each other better.

The Solution

We wanted to find a solution where every team member felt heard. We recommended two options:

  1. Everyone sits through twelve 10-minute presentations
  2. Everyone pitches their work in 2- minutes and then goes into break out rooms where the topic can be discussed in detail among 3 team members

Option 2 won.

In addition to the break out rooms, we made space for team building activities that lightened the atmosphere and allowed participants to get to know each other on a personal level. Here are just a couple of examples of participant’s favourites:

2 truths and a lie

Prior to the retreat, we sourced the information from every person and then made a game out of it using Kahoot digital quiz platform. It was the perfect solution for a group of people who don’t know each other that well. The stakes were low and there was no competition to perform/win. Even if you didn’t play, you could still learn something new just by watching.

Virtual backgrounds

Each day we asked participants to do a very simple thing - share a virtual background i.e. of their favourite place in NY. This created a sense of place since it felt as if they were again in NY together, just like in pre Covid-19 times.

Feedback and gratitude

On the last day of the retreat, we shared an anonymous feedback template. By filling up this form, participants “live” populated personal feedback that was later delivered to each individual after the retreat.

“One of the best virtual experiences I have ever had. Definitely exceeded my expectation of what a virtual meeting or retreat could do.”


The Results

It was heartwarming to see that our efforts paid off even in the Era of Zoom Overload and with strict design constraints. Participants were happy that they got all the information they wanted and that they could do it not just by staring at their computer.

“Working with InsightPact during the COVID-19 pandemic made the transition from our annual global in-person event to a fully virtual event seamless. The team was professional, highly responsive, and flexible, which was exactly what we needed for a new way of working that we all had to adapt to quickly. Thanks to the InsightPact team, the event was well prepared and a success! We have continued working with Hermes and the team.”