One of Ivan Scheier’s unique contributions to the volunteer field was his multi-day retreats for experienced practitioners, which he called “Challenge Think Tanks.” He hosted these retreats in various places across America during the 1980s and 1990s, whenever he could find a host organization. Ivan led the Think Tanks as a facilitator, not an instructor. He constructed the program to make people think and provided plenty of time for small group discussions and individual reflections. Most attendees remember their Think Tank opportunities with gratitude, and many credit them with changing the course of their careers.
The Challenge Think Tank approach is remembered in this article. It includes examples of different retreats and explains how elements of the program continue today in events like the annual Australasian Retreat for Advanced Volunteer Management. Several colleagues share impressions and memories from their Think Tanks, as well as ideas for keeping the concept alive today and in the future.