back to article BOFH: You'll have to really trust me on this team-building exercise

BOFH logo telephone with devil's horns So I get into the office and immediately I sense a disturbance in the natural order of things – mainly the jarring combination of too much aftershave and an overdose of enthusiasm. It gets worse when I get upstairs and see a large wooden tabletop with the word TEAMWORK inserted into it …

  1. John Robson Silver badge

    Wouldn't let me on the cardiac ward

    That was genuinely funny... now everyone is looking at me...

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: Wouldn't let me on the cardiac ward

      Even better if you can find the valve to the Nitrous Oxide!

    2. b0llchit Silver badge

      Re: Wouldn't let me on the cardiac ward

      Yes, playing that video over and over again. The nurses and I had a good time dancing to the rhythm.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: Wouldn't let me on the cardiac ward

        That argumentative escorts would fit right in Monty Python's Flying Circus sketches

        "Press 1 for an argument"


        "I've told you to press bloody 1, why didn't you?""

        "I did, I did"

        "No you didn't!"


        1. A Nother Handle

          Re: Wouldn't let me on the cardiac ward

          This isn't an argumemt, you're just disagreeing!

          1. jmch Silver badge

            Re: Wouldn't let me on the cardiac ward

            No I'm not

      2. PyroBrit

        Re: Wouldn't let me on the cardiac ward

        Funnily enough our local radio club had a Zoom club meeting in the middle of Covid lockdown. One of our members was taken ill so joined the meeting from the casualty ward of the local hospital with the nurses waving at us in the background.

        It's a fun memory although the poor guy did end up dying.

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Wouldn't let me on the cardiac ward

      When I read "plugged into his machine" I thought the joke was going in a different, sparky, direction.

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: Wouldn't let me on the cardiac ward

        I had a vivid recollection of the wearable computer and the boss.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Wouldn't let me on the cardiac ward

        Maybe being plugged into one machine(with a cattle prod) led to being plugged into the next?

      3. tezboyes

        Re: Wouldn't let me on the cardiac ward

        Likely the cause of the hospital admission!

    4. tezboyes

      Re: Wouldn't let me on the cardiac ward

      Yeah, the BOFH is definitely NSFW, when cow-orkers enquire why you're ROFL ;)

  2. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    Most disappointed!

    I was looking forward to blood, broken bones and a concussion!

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Even more disappointed!

      That Jamie didn't bring his magic torch with him!

      Though I always did wonder what he did once he'd grown up.

      1. Dr. G. Freeman

        Re: Even more disappointed!

        Shouldn't have googled it, tune's stuck in my head now.

        1. FeRDNYC

          Re: Even more disappointed!

          I must've missed when Charles Schulz took that gig animating acid trips. (Maybe I was too stoned.)

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Most disappointed!

      The boss getting his comeuppance is also rather satisfying.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Jamie's obviously smarter than we thought. And smarter than the usual snake-oil dealers in this line of business.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Yes, but he still has to get out of the building (and the cark park) alive…

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        I foresee a trust fall exercise in his future. From the top of the roof. Without anyone to catch him. Tragic really.

  4. SW10
    Big Brother

    Takes me back

    It is the early 90s. The scene is a common work space, with the boss esconced in a goldfish bowl office

    He seems to spend an inordinate time on the phone and, suspicions aroused, a colleague approaches the door while he is away at lunch.

    <Jiggle> in the lock

    The door opens. A quick scout around, followed by <jiggle> in the desk lock.

    Cutting after cutting after cutting of black-and-white line drawings and photos accompanied by 0898 numbers promising exchanges on almost any subject.

    Powder is kept dry until a few months later, when itemised billing by extension number is introduced...

    1. ColinPa

      Re: Takes me back

      I remember visiting a customer where the office walls were all glass, and you could see the boss's screen reflected in the wall behind him - no details - just enough to see he spent most of the time playing patience.

      The people I was with said it was safer that way.

      1. juice

        Re: Takes me back

        At one point, I was working in a ground floor office, which had full height glass "walls" directly by the pavement running alongside the building.

        Thankfully, said glass was silvered, so people generally couldn't see into the office during the day.

        Which meant that one day, attention was called to a young lady, who'd clearly had quite an enjoyable afternoon in the pub, and had decided to use the corner of our building to relieve herself. While clearly being completely unaware that said silvered glass was effectively a one-way mirror, and there was a load of tekkie types staring at her...

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Takes me back

          I worked at a factory in a holiday resort in East Devon, we also had windows like that along one side of the building. To the amusement of the entire factory floor who got to watch a couple enjoying the isolation the countryside brings with the chap enthusiastically bouncing on his lady love on a hilly field a short distance away.

          We gave them a round of applause as they passed by the factory on the walk back to town.

        2. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: Takes me back

          I've witness the opposite: a young couple forgetting that in the evening, with lights on, the glass walls only seem to be like mirrors from the inside, from the outside you could very well see what they were "up and into"...

        3. Joe W Silver badge

          Re: Takes me back

          Our offices face a hotel building. Every now and again there are couples in the hotel seemingly getting a kick out of having some audience, opening windows and curtains...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Takes me back

      I remember one 'icebreaker'.

      Each member of a team of four had to lay on the floor on a flipchart sheet, and the others painted their outline with kiddie paints.

      Each 'portrait' - grossly enlarged and deformed, of course - then hung on the walls around the room for the entire week (yes, those bloody courses were that long) for reasons I have never been able to fathom.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Takes me back

        I have been forced once to attend such a course. I've flatly refused something similar on the grounds of "No, thanks. I'm 24 years old, not 4, and I think my contributions to my team do not depend on me dipping my hands in paint of dubious origin". Chief Twits "exercise" fell rather flat after that...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Takes me back

          On another course - and this one was part of the initial introduction of 'Teamworking' - we were on a residential thing at a country resort.

          It was my (and everyone else's) first encounter with people who wear sandals and cargo shorts to deliver courses (and who would probably have preferred to go naked if it had been allowed).

          Once we were through running around the woodland on 'treasure hunts', and building bridges spanning large gaps using A4 copier paper and Lego (I'm not making any of that up), the course people announced that there would be a 'forfeit' where teams had to put on a performance on stage to the hotel staff. It quickly became apparent that 'dressing up' would be involved, and then even clearer that one of my group (a manager of my level) was EXTREMELY eager to cross-dress if the opportunity arose.

          I pointed out that I would not be getting on stage. I truthfully pointed out I have a virtual phobia about it. I would happily present a serious topic to a room full of 200 people (and have done many times), but not acting and dressing up. I said I would be more than happy to work backstage, but I would not appear on it.

          It then became clear another team member - of staff level, who reported to me - also had a phobia about it, and he was less restrained. He became upset, actually in tears, to the point of threatening to punch anyone who tried to make him do it. At one stage, he was nearly ejected from the course until I calmed him down. He thanked me later for standing up the original idea.

  5. Coastal cutie
    Thumb Up

    Vintage BOFH reasoned persuasion

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

    Takes me back... shudder, suddenly WFH is a beautiful thing.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

      Until you get the virtual events doing the same thing.

      I love where I have to buy random cooking rubbish or get events for time management *rolls eyes*, just join last and forget to turn the camera or mic one.

      1. Anonymous South African Coward

        Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

        Or induce an emergency 220v power drop to your telecoms router, then claim your electricity provider went TITSUP during that time, and that you were not able to compete in said teambuilding event....

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

          Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

          I would but have work to do :'(

          1. tezboyes

            Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

            Yes. Wellbeing Hour is all very nice, except that just means having to finish an hour later to get work done.

        2. tezboyes

          Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

          Or just go with the classics. Can you hear me, I can't hear you, you're breaking up, Sorry, what was that. No I'll just have to reboot, the VPN keeps disconnecting ...

        3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

          Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

          "Sorry, Windows just rebooted itself, and now my camera won't work. Let me see if I can get it working again. May take a couple of reboots. Back as soon as I can."

    2. You aint sin me, roit

      Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

      Takes me back 30 years...

      "Welcome to your teambuilding course, for this is YOUR course..."

      Hearts sank, morale instantly deflated.

      After a morning of team games he corners me during lunch... "I couldn't help noticing how well you got on with your team mates."

      "We've all met before", I reply.

      "But the teams were made up from different departments."

      "Yes, but we all go to the same pub at lunchtime", say I, with the clear subtext that the pub is where real teambuilding gets done.

      And where I'd rather be.

      1. Anonymous Custard

        Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

        They also always seem to get grumpy when I ask where the ice-picks are, if this is supposed to be an ice-breaker?

        Shame as there are no shortage of candidates for them around here sometimes....

        1. pirxhh

          Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

          In my line of work, icebreakers are big brutish things of steel and diesel or, if you need real endurance, nuclear powered. Once started, they tend not to be stopped by much...

          1. 43300 Silver badge

            Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

            The motivational-bollocks industry loves to borrow terms from industry and the military to try to make itself sound all technical. After the icebreaker, they'll introduce you to the nuts and bolts of the matter and brief you on the toolkit which will be used in this workshop...

        2. ske1fr
          IT Angle

          Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

          "Whatever happened to,

          Jamie Trainer,

          he got an ice pick,

          that made his ears burn...

          No more trainers anymore,

          No more trainers anymore"

          Shortened for brevity. I'm so glad I've retired from all this bovine excreta in the guise of corporate team building.

          Icon because bs has no relevance to IT!

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

        "But the teams were made up from different departments."

        Which then begs the question, what type of team are we trying to build with people from different departments who don't actually work together and, for work purposes at least, never actually meet? Is there a point to team building with people you are unlikely to ever meet again?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

          "Is there a point to team building with people you are unlikely to ever meet again?"

          Yes. It pays good money to the snake-oil salesmen who run the events and the hotels or whatever that host them. A point for the company you work for? Why would you expect that?

          As a variant of that, vary occasionally I would have to visit crime scenes in extremely dodgy areas. I would have an armed escort, sometimes RUC, sometimes army, sometimes both. I've never worked with them before. Woah! I'm trusting my life to the protection these guys are providing, I've never met them before and I can do this without even a team building exercise? Im Possible!

          Well, actually I expect them to look after my safety, they expect me to do my job efficiently so we can remove ourselves from the dodgy neighbourhood ASAP. We're all professionals at our respective tasks. What more do we need?

          (OK, let's gloss over the fact that a combined operation once took me to the wrong address in Twinbrook.)

        2. ske1fr

          Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

          Wait I know this. It's because when you're faffing about at the teapoint/kitchen/water cooler yacking with the other wage slaves you'll have all these eureka moments when you realise that two teams are working on exactly the same thing...not that you can fertilise each others workstreams...unless that's your bag...

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

            A company having two teams working on the same thing without being aware of each other's existence? The company has more problems than needing team building exercises.

            1. Anonymous IV

              Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

              > A company having two teams working on the same thing without being aware of each other's existence?

              Indeed - this happened to me when I was part of the Network Team of $Fred'sLargeBankPLC, which team covered mainly the southern and middle part of England. Quite by chance, we suddenly became aware of a parallel team which covered the more northern part of the UK, and of whom we had never previously heard!

              Perhaps we should have been more inquisitive, but we had a lot of work to do, and thinking outside the job was frowned upon...

        3. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

          Yes, as well as what kind of team,in what way they should work together, how different roles are fulfilled and interchanged,and so forth. i.e. all the real team building nitty gritty that these twat courses never actually touch upon ( but which organisational psychology covered in some detail when I was learning about that stuff).

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

            exactly that.

            Most enlightening "teambuilding" I've ever had was in a training course for "deep in the weeds" mechatronics stuff that had some "non-tech" elements. Basic concept was one of those 4-color personality types but unsurprisingly most of us there were deep in the "blue corner" of being engineers and nerds. It became interesting however when the focus wasn't on what that would mean for us but how that related to all the other personalities and why we can't stand certain other people and how they act. Plus how to deal with them without things escalating. That was more valuable to me than all the other "teambuilding" idiocy that I've ever had to attend that was focused on other personality types that left me feeling at best annoyed.

            1. rototype

              Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

              We had one of these a couple of years ago (pre-Covid) and they are actually worth doing (Yup, surprised the heck out of me too). A lot of this I think had to do with the presenter actually REALLY knowing his stuff (and having a good bag of funny stories to tell along the way).

              Other than that most of the rest of the events we took part in the rest of the week were pretty lame by comparisson.

        4. Trygve Henriksen

          Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

          I think the idea being that the team members will stop calling the people in other departments for simpering idiots or neanderthals, and actually start cooperating with them...

          The only thing a Teambuilding dofus manage to get them to agree on is that the dofus needs to be taken out back and playfully rolled through a few cow patties.

          Other than that, what everyone wants to do is forget everything that happened, and hope that the simpering neanderthals in the same group also does, otherwise they might have blackmail material on you.

          NO ONE has yet managed to prove that Teambuilding exercises actually work!

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

      "suddenly WFH is a beautiful thing"

      As is retirement.

      One IT managert seemed to believe in murder mystery evenings for team-building (obviously a lack of judgement on her part). I think she shied away from trying to involve me. I was looking forward to being asked so I could refuse on the basis that I don't do amateur nights*.

      *Ex-forensic scientist here.

      1. tezboyes

        Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

        Or asking who you get to murder?

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Ahh, Team building/break the ice exercises....

          That would be pointless, they'd never solve the mystery.

  7. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Is the BOFH 9ffering advice about cars now?


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Linky is Broky, as I'm not signing up for that hellscape

      1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

        You're missing out on old people ranting at clouds, and imagining every delivery man is a home invader, though.

        1. Loyal Commenter

          Let's not forget interminable arguments about whether eScooters are either God's own transport solution, or the Devils' pavement demons.

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            And the LTNs.

            The best bit is the freebies section, mostly filled with people trying to avoid paying to dispose of their rubbish. Best one I've seen was the 'free hardcore/rubble' which was in the form of a WWII concrete bomb shelter, collector demolishes.

          2. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Round my way it's cycle lanes

    2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Buggrit. I meant cats.

      It was a somewhat misguided ad. The intent was to sell some kind of snake oil vaporiser to calm cats with a propensity for fighting.

      What the ad actually said implied something quite different, along the lines of a BOFH strategem:

      "Are your cats fighting? Just plug into an electrical socket in your cat's favourite room. Recommended by vets."

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Our post COVID morale/wellness speaker actually was called James

  9. AlanSh

    "What post-COVID moral issues?"

    Given the end story, was this a true freudian slip, or just atyping error?

  10. chivo243 Silver badge

    Yeah that whole work wellness charade

    Would have been funnier if they found out that Jamie was the bosses son-in-law to be, or a nephew or ex-colleague, oh, wait that happened to US!

  11. Anonymous South African Coward

    I see what you did with the A hole.

    Good one. Do carry on.

  12. ChrisC Silver badge

    One of the great unspoken advantages of WFH... that when the weekly dose of BOFH includes classic lines like

    "There's something missing from the A hole," he hints.

    it's only the cats who get to observe my reaction. Ah, superb stuff once again.

  13. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Safety warning

    Team building, PFY and BOFH form a volatile mixture, mixing the without precautions may lead to injury or Database Normalization Warnings

  14. stiine Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Always carry a spare

    linoleum knife??? Love it!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Always carry a spare

      A refinement of Gibbs Rule 9…

  15. gryphon

    Not Team Building

    Many years ago site management had done an 'improve your skills' type course with mind mapping and all that jazz and decided that us peons should also do it.

    I was feeling rather unhappy since I had a ton of work on which nobody else could do and deadline wasn't being shifted for my attendance at this thing.

    His first statement was along the lines of "let's not see problems as problems let's see them as.."

    I didn't let him finish "I work in IT support, a problem is a problem is a problem 99% of the time", 'umm, yes, we'll get back to that'

    Next thing from him was, "when you come back from break please all sit at different seats so you get a different perspective"

    I just sat at the same seat all day glaring at him and pointing out where his pearls of wisdom might apply to management but not to us peons who actually did stuff for a living on a manufacturing site.

    I don't think he was my best friend by the end of the day but it was of course him who was laughing all the way to the bank.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Not Team Building

      "His first statement was along the lines of "let's not see problems as problems let's see them as.."

      I once had a manager who had that as his favourite phrase. Clearly he'd read that one management skills book cover to cover, but skipped all the bits between the covers.

    2. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Not Team Building

      A few years ago our benevolent management set aside a small budget for team building exercises, our team leaders were having none of that and took us to things like go-cart racing and F1 simulators, no teams but just for individual glory.

      It was never repeated.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Not Team Building

        I remember (very vaguely!) one away week where someone had discovered the previous week's bar bill and was determined to beat it.

    3. JimboSER

      Re: Not Team Building

      BOSS: You missed the deadline on your project.

      ME: I don't see that as a problem, I see it as an opportunity for no more mandatory teambuilding.

  16. series_one

    We had one of these a few years back, the prof taking it was trying to emphasise the fantastic rate of change in the technology world, and as an example asked us to compare the car we drove to the meeting today with the one we had 5 years ago. At which point everyone turned and looked at me, and my boss piped up that I still drove the same car then as I do now. Ok, he says, there's always one, so think about the the car you drove 10 years ago, at which point there was deadly silence. Realising what was about to be said, he quickly changed it to 15 years ago, at which point the entire meeting descended into fits of laughter and the prof walked out. My car was then 17 years old and I'd had it from virtually new (but it DID have a digital speedo, and a crap voice synthesis box...).

    1. Totally not a Cylon

      Wouldn't be an MG Maestro would it?

      I once went from Rheindahlen to Bielefeld in one with it going "bing bong, low fuel" the entire way....


  17. Blackjack Silver badge

    What a fool, you know you have to have snacks and if in the budget ice-cream, in these things. That way people is less likely to murder you in hopes of letting you live means getting more free food in the future.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Even free food has its limits as an enticement.

  18. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Oh god

    team building exercises.......

    Or as we like to phrase them

    "finding out everyone hates the accountant and would cheerfully set the &%^$*&%*%&*% on fire using nothing but 2 sticks, a magnifying glass, some kindling and Bear Grylls"

    Eg. We make bits for a tier 1 automotive supplier, lots of bits... lots and lots in fact , however depending where the tool are in the magazine, the part can take 52 or 53 seconds.. maybe 54 sometimes..... accountant makes a note in his tour of the factory floor that it takes 52 seconds.... and at the next meeting decides to berate me on the basis its currently logged at 53 seconds and costing the company $xx.xx profit.

    I will have my revenge at the next team building exercise....oh make must make a note to take matches and plenty of newspaper this time

    And another note that in the case of heart failure , my PFY is banned from bringing me gifts while I'm in hospital... and I'm owed another one of these >>>

    1. Zarno

      Re: Oh god

      That's where the twin arm tool changers on the more modern Mazak's are nice, they get pretty consistent on change times.

      Random pocket return, staging of next tool or two, etc.

      Just make sure your 100mm shell mill is set as "wide" in the tool data to nab the center of three consecutive holders, lest it tries to occupy the same position as a drill chuck and a hog mill.

      Also a good idea to set it as and "heavy", so it doesn't go full MLB pitcher and throw it across the machine when it stops at the spindle...

      And you can also pin the tools to a specific holder, which is what we did with the probes.

      Just never manually swap tools in the mag without using the tool request interface, or you're in for living hell of reorganizing every pocket.

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        Re: Oh god

        Yeah I know the tricks.... in fact thats a big part of what I'm actually supposed to be doing, taking pre-production code and changing tool paths from "as programmed by the CAM system" into "as programmed for shortest most efficent path using the smallest number of tool changes"

        Which is'nt exactly easy especially when the multi-axis decides to clamp after every move(takes 1.5 seconds for the clamp to clamp/release) which can add a lot of time to a job if you're making 180 holes in a steel ring.

        Oh and never be tempted to speed things up by changing the air pressure regulators on the tool changer.

        that really does result in 10 lbs of tool being fired through the machine/guard/safety cage/ nearest operator/office wall.

        Wheres the icon for 'the voice of experience' oh and 'duck!"

        1. Zarno

          Re: Oh god

          "If you really want to get the best view of the process, just stand here and wait while I adjust some things..."

          CAM processors do some really wacky things.

          Instead of following the logical "this pocket is next to this one" they do a bazillion rapid moves that are faster on paper, but shake the machine like a maraca and look like someone traced the path of ten coked up ferrets, causing surface finish issues...

          They also seem to never be at the goldilocks zone of feeds/speeds, or the proper finishing rate to keep a good surface...

          Mastercam is pretty good though, but the fees keep me from entertaining it for my business.

          Inventor HSM is acceptable, but the subscription makes me clench a bit.

          1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

            Re: Oh god


            " but shake the machine like a maraca and look like someone traced the path of ten coked up ferrets"

            keeping that one for a future meeting....

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Oh god

      at the next meeting decides to berate me on the basis its currently logged at 53 seconds

      Best reply: "Engineering, unlike accountancy, relies on precision and accuracy."

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Oh god

      "Eg. We make bits for a tier 1 automotive supplier, lots of bits... lots and lots in fact , however depending where the tool are in the magazine, the part can take 52 or 53 seconds.. maybe 54 sometimes..... accountant makes a note in his tour of the factory floor that it takes 52 seconds.... and at the next meeting decides to berate me on the basis its currently logged at 53 seconds and costing the company $xx.xx profit."

      I worked for a company that would watch the time cards like a hawk. The owner was the one that typically opened the doors in the morning and he was not known for being early by more than 2 minutes and sometimes a few minutes late. At a review, I was confronted with being a total of some amount of minutes late (morning and back from lunch). I asked if they had a total for how many minutes I was early and was told they don't keep track of that. I don't believe there were any instances where I was egregiously late and the total late worked out to about 2-3 minutes/day. Never mind that we were paid based on the hours on our time cards with no OT authorized.

      In the case of the machine, time per part isn't valid for a single part or even a day's production in some cases. I've owned a manufacturing company and that sort of thinking can get you in big trouble. It doesn't take into account maintenance time, bobbles, and backlogs from previous operations. Sometimes an operation can be squeezed a bit but it might lead to more rejected work that swamps out any gains in cycle time.

      1. JimC

        Re: Oh god

        There was a nice example from the early days of British Railways soon after nationalisation. Factory A was expensive for casting, and cheap for machining a component. Factory B was cheap for casting and expensive for machining. Let's, said the time and motion man, get Factory B to do the casting and Factory A to do the machining. And the end result: the job was now more expensive than either factory...

  19. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Back up plan

    If you work for a company that's into this sort of nonsense, have a way to get a call/page/ping/summons that gets you out of the room. If you are in IT, you should be spoiled for choices on the excuse. If you have anything customer facing, an urgent need to interface with a customer should get you out of the room. Prep a friend to call-in pretending to be from a large account and have somebody sent to track you down with a message to call "Edward" at "Big Customer, inc" right away. Make up a name that lets you know it's your dodge and a company/client that is important. The amount of time it takes you to "resolve the issue" depends on how long you need to be through with that team exercise crap. In the mean time, you can get the work done that needs to be done by the deadline, rain or shine, or else.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Back up plan

      I bypassed that. It was obvious from the start that the presenter had OD'd on his pep pills. The usual "introduce the person sitting next to your" had become "introduce the two people sitting next to you".

      "Will this help me with $CurrentWobblySystemIsThrowing"



  20. tezboyes

    There was a suggestion we could all go Axe Throwing as a ln after work senior management team building exercise - that was quickly knocked on the head ...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Axe throwing IN work would be better sometimes.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    One Teambuilding course I was on was intended to improve problem-solving skills within the company.

    It was actually an insult, since problem-solving was my job in the first place, and being told how to do it by 'consultants' who didn't understand the technical aspects of what we did rankled.

    One day, they gave us (all six teams) a siege catapult. It was about the size of a tea crate. The idea was that by the end of the day each team would have three shots with a ping-pong ball as the projectile, with the aim of getting it in a coffee cup 20 feet/6 metres away.

    It was all to do with removing degrees of variation. When you started playing with it, shots covered a wide range of landing points, but by fixing the base to a hard surface, arranging a constant spring tension, building a trigger mechanism, and so on, you could obviously fine-tune the landing point. For our team, it was bloody obvious, because it was what we did every day. The problem company-wide was that no one else listened and just did their usual guesswork.

    By the time we'd set up our system, we could guarantee where the ball would land to within a few centimetres every shot.

    Late that afternoon, came 'the Tournament'. And we went first.

    We fired our first shot, and it landed directly in the coffee cup.

    No one else got anywhere near.

    All we did was waste a bloody week identifying what the problem in the company was, without fixing it. And most of us KNEW the problem in the first place.

    1. Mobster

      Re: Amateurs

      Your job involved shooting ping pong balls every day? Now I am almost jealous ...

      1. Fred Daggy Silver badge

        Re: Amateurs

        I've been to one of those shows. Perhaps a little bit NSFW to go any further.

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Amateurs

      But sometimes people in a company will actually listen if it's someone from outside telling them the bleedin' obvious. So you probe these consultants early on on why they are ACTUALLY there (pointless "exercises" or proper consulting with reports, feedback and follow up and such) and then see if you can guide them on what actually requires reporting.

  22. ColinPa

    Team working is good

    I was on a week's team building exercise. One morning we were split into teams and asked to discuss a topic and present on it.

    Four people including a guy called John were given the title "working as teams".

    When this lot came to present, there were two presentations. One from 3 people, and one from John both called "Working as teams". John could not see the irony of the situation.

  23. TeeCee Gold badge


    When I saw "Teambuilding Exercise", I was expecting several bags of assorted body parts, some slapdash needlework and some misuse of the lightning conductor.

    1. Lyle Dietz

      Re: Odd.

      There'th no excuthe for thlapdath needlework, not matter the thircumthtantheth.

    2. Ghostman

      Re: Odd.

      It was ODD that Jamie got a note asking him to be in the gym later that night. He was met with two of the employees that wanted to work out a problem with the exercises. They discussed the problem at point with Jamie and left a few hours later.

      Next morning the BOSS found a note from Jamie on his door saying he had to leave for an emergency, but had left an exercise set up in the hotel gym, and left instructions on how to do the exercise and how it was to help the "teamwork" of those participating.

      After a suitable breakfast everyone gathered in the gym. They found a punching bag suspended from the ceiling, four baseball bats, two sets of latex gloves, and a partial roll of duct tape.

      The instructions were to put on the gloves, stand on opposing sides of the punching bag, and hit the bag in a rhythmic pace so that the bag would swing back and forth in an ever increasing arc.

      For some reason the PFY picked up the partial roll of duct tape at this time and asked if anyone knew what it was for. No one responded, so he threw it in the trash with his best basketball throw, making sure everyone watched as it flew in the air to the nearest trash can. Everybody watched and sighed when he didn't make throw.

      The reason given for the exercise was to help those who felt under appreciated to work out their frustrations on the bag, while being urged on by co-workers to "hit harder."

      After all the teams had finished, the PFY and BOFH decided they needed another go at it.

      Nobody really noticed that as the day went on, the weight in the bag settled to the bottom.

  24. Aseries

    I have always considered a good exercise for team building is have 5 people select one 3 ingrediant pizza.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      I've got a digestive intolerance to both tomato, cheese and pork. Just to add to the difficulties ;) ( I usually just bring something from home for myself if I know there's going to be that sort of stuff going down. Generally more tasty than the factory made pizzas from chain-stores anyway)

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