Everyone needs to get away from it all occasionally. With this in mind, I arranged a three-day residential team building course for the BritBreak IT management team. In part I wanted to encourage creative activity in a low energy team. In part I wanted to re-ingratiate myself with the IT director (he's a great fan of team building) after his disappointment over not appearing on TV at the IT Fair. And in part I wanted a free three-day holiday in a luxury hotel without having to think about real work.
Only joking, of course, that last bit.
As always, it was fascinating seeing how they interpreted the instruction to wear informal dress. Fiona Rhees, the desktop manager had an impressive pair of jeans that was more hole than denim. Brian Finlay, the network manager had gone for a cardigan and cords - I almost expected him to produce a pipe and slippers when he sat down. DP manager, Arnold Potter had not really grasped the concept. Perhaps his tie was a little louder than usual, and he had dug out his suede shoes, but otherwise he might have been at work. Mike Rapton, our director (himself perfectly attired in designer polo shirt and lightweight trousers) took him to one side; Potter (sorry, Arnold - we have to use first names on the course) spent the rest of the time with his jacket and tie off, trying not to sulk.
After the usual hearty introductions, our American presenter delivered a theory-based morning. It was only at lunchtime that things livened up.
As a trust exercise, half the team was blindfolded, while the other half acted as guides. From the expression on Arnold Potter's face, you'd think he had been asked to parade along Oxford Street naked. As Slaughter McTone Regis arranged the course (for the usual cut) I was able to have a word with the presenter and make sure that I was not blindfolded - and that Arnold was. He had Fiona as his guide. I'm sure it was entirely accidental that she let him walk into that pillar. After all, she isn't the sort of woman to let the fact that Arnold spent all last week arguing that 40% of her budget she be transferred to him influence her.
As for the lunch itself, Fiona probably didn't think of the practical difficulties when she got Arnold a plate of spaghetti in sloppy sauce.
And in fact he did remarkably well considering.
Perhaps she should have spotted it was mustard that he was spooning into his coffee, rather than sugar, but I am quite prepared to accept that she was distracted by Mike's joke about how the elephant gets the bird out of the swamp.
As for the exercise with the computer simulation on the second day, or the affair of the inflatable wallaby on the championship size croquet lawn - these must wait for another report.
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