What kind of away day would help ministers crack Brexit differences?

Eleven government ministers are meeting at Chequers to hammer out a policy on Brexit. It’s a kind of Whitehall away day.

The hope is that by bringing them together in a fresh setting, it will help overcome what seem like insurmountable differences.

Sceptics will doubt just how much long-lasting trust team building away days can achieve.

On the other hand, it’s always good to boost morale.

So here are some suggestions of popular corporate away day activities that might appeal to Theresa May & Co in future, if they feel a subdued dinner in a country house in the Chilterns didn’t quite cut it.

British Bulldog
Good old outdoor games are just the thing to encourage “communication, collaboration and empathy amongst colleagues,” according to Charlotte Roach, founder of Rabble, a firm which offers outdoor team games for individuals as well as corporate events.

“Capture the Flag could be a great way to resolve the Brexit stalemate,” she says.

“Perhaps one team could look after the EU flag with the Brexiteers hanging onto the UK flag and we can see who wins.”

“Getting to know and have fun with your colleagues is fundamental in high performing teams, as team members will go the extra mile for each other,” she says.

“The games break down communication barriers when participants are at their least guarded.”

She says her corporate events often focus on a specific skill such as leadership. One to bear in mind for the future?

Mad Max
David Davis promised post-Brexit Britain wouldn’t resemble a Mad Max dystopia. Putting the bar quite low, as Jeremy Corbyn pointed out at PMQs this week.

But may be just to make sure they’re prepared for all eventualities the cabinet could try a “Wasteland Experience” day.

“You learn a lot about yourself when you’re being chased by something nasty,” says Lee Fields, founder of Zed. He used to work in TV special effects and computer gaming.

“Up until this weekend, we specialised in Zombie Experience days,” he says. But post-nuclear apocalypse is much more 2018.

He has transformed a disused 1970s shopping centre in Reading to resemble a post-nuclear strike “where survivors are scrambling around for resources, fighting with neighbours over resources and the kind of insanity that comes with bad people surviving”.

He thinks it could focus politicians’ minds.

“When people feel genuine fear the true person comes out. The masks of every day life are removed. And people are genuinely looking out for each other to survive the next step.”

Circus skills
You might argue that Brexit has been enough of a circus already. But Tim Shepley, at Team Tactics, thinks learning to walk a tightrope, ride a unicycle, walk on stilts or juggle could be a useful new experience for ministers.

“It’s all about balance and support and trusting people to be there if you are about to fall.”

Alternatively, they might like to try a “Clue-dunnit”. In this case you have a corpse, they call in forensics, you take fingerprints and examine clues.

“In a Clue-dunnit sharing information is absolutely key. In politics, like in business, people are in the habit of withholding information for their personal gain,” says Mr Shepley.

Ideally, though, he says the inner cabinet should go for a somewhat tamer option: a board game that encourages you to work out how to make enough money and then retire to a luxury island. Spot a metaphor?

The point is at first everyone works individually for their own gain. But if you do you tend to run out of money. Your end-of-game paradise island turns out much better if you work creatively together.

Freeing up
“I’ve given it some thought,” says Steve Gaskin of Rightangle. The firm offers a range of corporate activities, but he’s pretty sure he has the ideal one for Theresa May and her cohorts

“One of things we do is a live kidnapping experience,” he says.

“The chief executive is kidnapped – in this case it could be Theresa May. The team then needs to work closely together to free her.

“If it goes wrong what we do is call everyone back and say you’ve made such fundamental mistakes your CEO has been killed.”

Part of the challenge is to negotiate with a police informant and extract as much information from him, whilst paying him the least amount of money possible. Mr Gaskin, a former Scotland Yard chief inspector, can see the parallels with negotiating Brexit.

“My view is Theresa May should be the general and David Davis is the man on the ground and they should all be feeding information to him. You can’t have Boris going shouting off his policies,” he says. But what if it doesn’t, eh hem, go as planned?

“Some clients say they want their CEO bumped off. It’s only in jest but there are sometimes some wry smiles,” he admits.

If that strikes Theresa May as rather a high risk scenario, they could instead try Mr Gaskin’s other suggestion: eleven ropes for pulling a Landrover uphill.

“You have to cooperate and pull, or it rolls backwards.”

Sing song
Clearly Theresa May would love her ministers to all be singing from the same hymn sheet by this time tomorrow.

Choir master Jules Addison, is in a position to help.

Every year Mr Addison goes with large group of newly qualified lawyers to a fashionable European capital for a few days of workshops topped off with a singing session.

“Singing in choir, it’s the ultimate team work its much more interesting than crawling round in fields.”

Everyone has to work together whether they can sing or not, or whether they like the song or not.

But what song would work for the ensemble at Chequers? Queen, Don’t Stop Me Now, he suggests.

“I’ve done songs, duets from Grease when we had roughly 50-50 male-female split. You can get harmony and boy-girl dialogue going boy-girl.”

It’s one way to overcome differences of opinion, at least for a moment.

Source: BBC


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