Strategy, Charades and Snacks: Speakers Corner Away Weekend 2017
The week before last we locked up the headquarters, put on our out-of-offices and wheeled our suitcases down to the station to board the train to Maidenhead! Many of us had never seen the delights of just outside Slough before and, as you can imagine, we were quite excited to see what the weekend would bring. Alongside planning the whole trip and our activities, the Head Office team had also gone to the trouble of researching extra-curricular activities too. Our Finance Manager Paula was really hoping we would paint the town red and grace the local karaoke bar, Smoky Joe’s, with our presence – also known as Maidenhead’s equivalent of Fabric.
We have arrived
But, before all the fun could begin, we had work to be doing, services to deliver, strategies to be strategising. So, upon arriving, we dumped our bags and ran round like excited teenagers on their first time away from home, checking out each other’s rooms. Logistics team member Helena scored lucky with a room that could be mistaken for a palace, with exposed beam ceilings, a huge en suite and a coffee table fit for a private afternoon tea!
So, after the rooms had been ranked, we gathered downstairs to begin the first of two sessions. Managing Director Nick started the proceedings with some facts and figures over the past few years. As a company we pride ourselves on transparency and team spirit, so this was the perfect way kick off the weekend.
Strategising in progress
The next session was run by Head of Marketing Charlotte and Head of Logistics Rebecca . As they handed out our Pritt sticks and business magazines, we got our creative juices flowing and produced some quite beautiful mood boards which helped us clarify our aims and achievements. These would form the pillars of the weekend and, after agreeing we’d all produced some really great work (of course), we got ready for dinner.
We were waited on hand and foot for our beautiful three course dinner. As we sat round a long table in a room adorned with period features, it couldn’t help but feel reminiscent of something out of Downtown Abbey. This image was swiftly replaced by one of Italian gangster crime as, led by games master and Account Manager Lucy B , we played Mafia. There are a few things you need to know about Speakers Corner, other than our all-consuming love of good food - one is that when we play a game of Mafia things can get very heated. True to form, this game kicked off with outlandish claims being thrown out left, right and centre. More than the activities, it gave a real insight into characters and power play!
Downton style dining
So, after safely weeding out the perpetrators of organised crime, we could all sleep soundly for a busy day of workshops to follow the next morning. And what a packed-out day Friday was, with six different sessions on all aspects of the business. We were thrown into new teams at every turn and worked together to produce some brilliant ideas that would help guide us through the year ahead. Our day was punctuated by regular cake pit stops and a rather delicious lunch, including delights such as a handcrafted feta tart and fresh prawn cocktail.
Everything was going swimmingly, until the post-lunch finance game was upon us. I use the word game lightly, as this was similar to the time where Joey from Friends plays Bamboozled with Ross and Chandler. Having exhausted most of our brainpower and suffering from severe sugar comedowns, you could call this the one where everyone gets stressed about budgets and quotas and realises that running a business isn’t all that simple – minus the canned laughter.
Incredible lunch buffet
But, in all seriousness, it helped teach us the lesson that the real world of business is tough and that, in the uncertain times of 2017, we need to be considerate about decision-making and have a clear vision of what our priorities are. A worthy message that came out of the weekend, and one which the whole team have been carrying forward in their thoughts and actions.
And so, it was time for dinner again, and we ventured out of the hotel to a local pub for some proper grub and a few drinks. Hopes and dreams of Smoky Joe’s quickly disintegrated into a night cap and charades at the bar, but with some hilarious enactments of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, we all agreed this was just as good.
Our last session was on Saturday morning and, back in the comfort and safety of our own teams, we came up with ideas of how we could best integrate the weekend’s masterplans into our daily routines. After more strategising and presenting, I think the whole team felt we had a clear vision of our goals for 2017 and how to implement them.
Masterplans being put into action
The weekend wrapped up on a positive high and, from the great work that has already been produced since the weekend, we are sure that this is a mentality that we will be bringing forward in all our work for the following year - and beyond.
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