Start Center - Strategic Analysis, Research & Training Center
START Center



START held its 10th annual retreat on September 21 – 22, 2022 at Sleeping Lady Resort in Leavenworth, WA. This two-day retreat is an opportunity for the Center to come together and re-establish our values, have dedicated time toward team-building, go over specific resources and skills that lead to success in START work, and to welcome the new START Research Assistants (RAs), Global Innovation Fellows (GIFs), and faculty leads joining the center for the 2022 – 2023 academic year.

To set the tone for the retreat, we began with a quick message from START leadership welcoming everyone, stating our retreat goals and behavioral norms, and reviewing our four START Core Values. These values remain the same from year to year, but are shaped each year by the group of people that make up START.

Our next session of the day focused on individual work styles, and how we work together as teams effectively. This consisted of discussing introversion versus extroversion, and seeing where each of the members of the Center land on this scale. We then looked at four different workstyles. Each member of the team took a survey before the retreat, and we discussed each other’s results and what behavior trends in group work individuals typically have based on their results. We then had a team building activity, where the group was split into four teams. Each team was given a bag of crafting supplies, and tasked with creating a bridge that could hold more weight than the other teams. We asked teams to be aware of what roles each person naturally took within the group, and if they noticed trends in their work style.

Our next session was a deep drive into the START project life cycle. We examined the framework of a typical project process, what has happened with past projects, what the common steps to success look like, and what the common pitfalls to avoid are. This session was led by two second year RAs who have both held the role of Project Manager on projects, and a START faculty lead, all of whom could speak to specific examples they have experienced in their work with START.

The final session of the first day focused on the pivotal point of every project when it launches from a work order given to START by a client to tangible work to be done by our RAs: the scoping meeting. This is a meeting where the team of RAs and a faculty lead meet with the client to discuss the purpose and methods stated in the work order, gain clarity on the project scope and final deliverables, and to ask any closing logistical questions. RAs were given roles to act out, with instructions to act out typical missteps and successful habits as a PM, teammate, and faculty lead. The group then discussed which behaviors that had been modeled to repeat and which to avoid.

The second day began with a session on project management. This session focused on best practices for managing a project at START, and how RAs can better support each other as peers. We also discussed ways RAs can meet their goals and grow in the ways they want to within their project work.

Our next session focused on setting the tone for our community for the year. START Student Representatives, who are second year research assistants elected by their peers to represent the RAs to leadership, led this session. They first asked members of the center to play a game that highlighted similarities between each other. We then spent some time setting personal goals and sharing them with each other.

Our final session of the day was led by START’s Executive Director. He summarized major themes from the retreat, and emphasized that we are a community at this learning center. We expect people to be challenged because that is how we grow, and we are here to support people when they need it.

The trainings provided at the 10th annual retreat were created to allow research assistants, faculty, and staff working at START to share a common understanding of expectations and methods used to deliver high-quality research. The opportunity for the START Center to come together in-person for two days set a positive tone for the 2022 – 2023 academic year.