Thursday, April 28, 2016

Pre-away day thoughts

Tomorrow we have a department 'away day'... I've been fortunate enough to only be forced into taking part in three such events in the past, two planning/collaboration ones in conference rooms, and one team building one with paintball guns... From that limited experience, my expectation is that the only real beneficiaries of tomorrow's event will be the owners of some local hostelry, assuming sufficient of us are still on speaking terms at the end of the day. I'm a big fan of evidence based practice, whether it's for software development, teaching or management, so I've had a bit of a search for the evidence backing up the use of away-days. So far the best I've found is a suggestion in Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook that they can be used to reduce staffing costs, provided they take place in a suitably dangerous environment to ensure fatalities. There are a lot of websites espousing the benefits of away days, but always emphasizing that the best results will be achieved if you pay the site owners lots of money to organize it.

CPID have a page on 'How to... run a management away-day', which is less cynical than Dogbert, and less self-interested than the facilitation companies. Their first two recommendations are "a clear and agreed reason for spending the time away together", and "clear guidance on what the participants need to do before the event". - We're not off to a good start here...

But now I need to get back to work, because apparently the little programming task I was doing as a favour, that was due at the end of May is now an essential requirement for next week, and the specification has changed...

If  I survive the 'away-day' I'll blog again about how it went. Maybe it will be a nice positive blog post! (I'm hoping that the managers will be attempting planning, and the rest of us will be equipped with paint-ball guns.)

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