Horse-whispering is the latest in a long line of activities marketed as corporate team-building events. You can take your pick - from creative video, outdoor theatre, cordon bleu cooking or playing in an orchestra. More rugged pursuits include potholing, abseiling and white-water rafting. Are they just gimmicks, or should employers consider them a valuable part of training and development strategy?
Most external group training events cost serious money and take up considerable work-time - so they are not taken lightly. After the first euphoria of the 'outward-bound' approach to team-building in the 1980s, the genre attracted a lot of bad publicity when people got hurt.
Since then, there has been a shift away from the tougher survival course to co-operative team-building activities. Chris Batten, business development manager at Brathay Development Training, one of the market leaders, claims that the industry has moved to a more sophisticated approach, using a variety of problem-solving projects. Creative exercises at Brathay include screen-printing, costume dramas and murder mysteries. Sophisticated and/or useful? It's hard to say. 'All projects are nonsensical in relation to specific job skills,' argues Batten, 'but they provide a framework for people to sit back, think about the task and get better at relationships.'