The modern cult of corporate team-building is one of the more bewildering phenomena to blight our epoch. Every employee ever compelled to participate in such an exercise has hated it. There is no evidence that they do any good, whereas the historical record teems with wars won, businesses established and breakthroughs made without anybody being compelled to put on a silly hat or hunt treasure.

The folly of such exercises has now been demonstrated with the moral clarity of Aesop by the experience of an Italian real estate agency called Tecnocasa. It sent several staff on a “motivation day” in Rome, during which they walked on hot coals. Due, apparently, to a mishap with the wrong kind of wood and coal, nine of them required hospital treatment for burnt feet.

These injuries – mercifully slight, as it turned out – should be recognised for what they are: physical equivalents of the spiritual wounds suffered by legions of employees whose bosses sup the snake oil dispensed by management gurus. It seems likely that the only motivation these people are now feeling is the motivation to get another job – just as soon as they can walk towards the door.

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