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You've Gobi joking?

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You are sitting in a management meeting and someone suggests that there is a need to encourage team-working and bolster 'intuitive management skills'. Do you:

1) immediately put your hand up and volunteer? ;

2) wait to see what your fellow workers do and then follow suit? ; or 3) run for cover from another hairbrained scheme masquerading as personal development?

Twelve top managers from German furniture designer Sedus Stoll recently chose option one and ended up on a fortnight's footslog through the Gobi Desert to the monastery at Alashan, in Chinese Mongolia. Perhaps the kidults in the management class thought they were going to a Harry Potter readers' club - instead they were obliged to 'experience team work as a sheer necessity for physical survival'.

As part of the Sedus 'brand development strategy' - under the company motto, 'Life Inspires' - they followed the route taken by the Swedish explorer Sven Hadin, who failed 'because of fatal management errors'.

On their return, Dr Kallup Waldshut, chief executive officer of Sedus, seems to have become spiritually enlightened. He observes that 'there are many paths to choose from. You have to keep investigating them and be prepared to optimise your course. The elemental inescapability of the desert makes it an excellent training ground.' His analytical faculties were also honed. 'The preconditions for outstanding managerial achievement, ' he says, 'are the same as those for outstanding sporting achievement. . . motivation, strength, endurance, speed, concentration, the will to succeed, team spirit and fairness.'

Sedus now intends holding a series of lectures entitled 'Leading in Chaos', where mathematician and philosopher Gerhard Weigle 'will extend insights derived from Chaos Theory research to the work environment and demonstrate the advantages of 'chaotic order'.

Volunteers: two steps backwards.

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