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The Coddington Design Retreat: Wine Country & Team Building


Whether you’re a CEO at a tech start-up or a stay-at-home mom managing her household (both get little sleep and always on-the-go), you manage a team. And as any leader can tell you, managing a team takes work. It also takes communication, flexibility, and a whole host of other winning attributes. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

My personal leadership style? I’m not really about “the hierarchy.” Yes, we have an org chart, but it’s more for understanding our roles than creating a pecking order. I believe great ideas can come from anywhere and anyone, and collaboration makes us ALL better.

This is exactly why it’s so important for us to have great relationships with each other, a unified vision, and a clear process for working together on projects. This is important for any team (and maybe even family life, ha), but especially for our 100% virtual team. So… how do we create this positive environment? 

We meet up in Wine Country! Our 2021 retreat included a Sonoma County getaway perfect for team bonding, goal-setting, and of course, wine. Here’s how the retreat went, along with several insights from inside our business that may be useful to you…


A Relaxing Retreat to Wine Country

We checked into our wine country retreat at the chic Harmon Guest House, located in Healdsburg, California. As designers, we live for stunning hotel designs, and this one did not disappoint. Its cozy yet modern design was the perfect location for an upscale yet no-pressure retreat.

First on the agenda was to open our monogrammed gift bags, which contained a very 2021 gift: a rapid Covid test. Then, once we were all in the clear, we headed to Flowers Winery to break the ice and to review our agenda. 


Taking time to bond is essential to being a productive team, especially as we continue to hire. We spent the first day tasting wine, exploring the charming town of Healdsburg, and we even tried salmon pizza with caviar. Don’t worry, it tasted better than it sounds.

Then on a rainy Tuesday morning, we sipped artisanal coffee and holed up to plan our goals for 2022.

Our Internal Team Processes

I believe that the service you provide clients starts with the way you treat each other and work together inside the company. My first order of business was to introduce the Coddington Employee Success Model, which I’m happy to share with you, in case it’s helpful:

The best thing about this visual is that you can use it in a wide variety of contexts. At the heart of the model, we have our 3 pillars: Collaborate, keep learning, and keep your word. These are the things we can control and actively do. The words around the edges of the diagram include more specific action items related to each of these. For example, collaboration includes sharing, trusting each other, and having each other’s backs. 

Inside the overlapping rings of the model, we have the results of these actions. 

  • Collaboration + learning = growth and improvement.
  • Learning + keeping your word = balance at work and at home.
  • Collaboration + keeping your word = profit in all senses of the word.

When all of these are in harmony, that’s where we have our dream team. 

Our Client Experience Process

The second layer of any company is how they serve their clients or customers. Our Design Director, Dana, shared her vision for continuing to collaborate with our dream clients to bring their projects from idea to completion. (If you’re new around here, we’re different from your last interior designer.) 

Together, we created a similar model for our Client Delivery System, focusing again on the actions (the Steps and outer rings) and the results (the inner, overlapping rings). In this case, our actions lead our clients to…

  • Staying on-budget with their new build or major renovation
  • Staying on-time with the design, construction, furnishing, and final reveal
  • Ensuring that the design itself is exactly what each client is looking for (and more)
  • And the biggest result of all: Delivering their big reveal.

This is pretty specific to our line of work, but I’m confident you could adapt this chart to serve your own goals. Start with the results you want to achieve and work backward. What are the main steps required? What smaller action items will it take to get there? Now, you have a model you can share with your team for clear communication and a unified purpose. And you’re one big step closer to achieving it.

Our Goals for 2022

So, what can you expect from Coddington in 2022? We are working hard to serve more and more of our favorite clients (high-achieving female leaders building or renovating new homes), expanding our team, and gearing up for an even more fabulous retreat next year. Hard to top? Yes. Will we try? Oh, yeah.

In the meantime, we wish you happiness, success, team-building, and everything else you aspire to in 2022. See you in the New Year…




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