Murder on Retreat
“You can’t be serious.”
Dev, Sarah’s husband, was seldom surprised about the behavior of corporate executives. After all, he had long since decided that he was not cut out to pay what it would cost him to climb that ladder. He was content to run his successful software consulting business out of the house. Working on a laptop in his sweats with a cup of non-corporate coffee suited him admirably. He did like hearing Sarah’s tales about what went on in the large and stuffy company she worked for, if only so he could enjoy the contrast.
Sarah was an internal organization development consultant. Her work often took her to the 33rd floor where the executives worked – though Dev doubted that they did much work for their seven-figure salaries plus perks. She had just finished regaling him with the latest “flavor of the week;” a series of seminars led by a corporate guru and driven by the CEO, Todd Halstedt.
“Really, I am. Todd has worked privately with him for a year or two. He believes that the man has something to teach businesses about effective decision-making. Apparently, he has interpreted and developed some knowledge and practices from an Eastern mystic and applied them to the corporate world. Now Todd wants to have all the executives and managers in the company go through a program to learn the concepts, language, and practices so everyone will be aligned.”
“Aligned for what? To march off the cliff like a bunch of lemmings? What does ‘Todd the Almighty’ have in mind?” Dev was always highly skeptical of anything that sounded regimented or ritualistic. He had done his time as an altar boy and knew from overheard conversations how often the priests themselves had just gone through the motions of the liturgy while being occupied with more worldly concerns such as the horses they were planning to bet on later that day.
“He thinks that his own decision-making has benefited from the discipline his guru imposes. He’s pretty happy with the strategic direction he is taking the company and with the key people he has hired or promoted, but he doesn’t like what he sees the other executives doing. They seem to be all over the place, in his opinion, and that is holding Martech back from taking over the world.”
Dev was relieved to see Sarah’s lip curl a little as she said this. “So how does he plan to impose this so-called discipline? “
“He has contracted with the guru – he calls himself Scorpio – to take the top executives through an intensive session. Then Scorpio’s associates and three internal facilitators, including me, will provide workshops for the rest of the managers and do some follow-up work to make sure the values, principles, and process are actually being used.”
“What about your other projects? Your coaching clients?”
Dev had touched on a sore spot for Sarah. It was clear that this change effort would take over her work life. She was mildly flattered at having been asked to be a facilitator. This would clearly be the biggest and most visible project at Martech for some time to come. Still, she was uneasy about losing control of her role and her time. What would happen when the project was completed – or if it crashed and burned? And was this really a good idea? She didn’t know much about Scorpio or the Scorpio process. She was suspicious of anybody who claimed to have The Answer. And there was a lot of grumbling in the higher echelons of the company about the amount of money being spent on this guru while they were being asked to “do more with less.”
“The corporate retreat for the top 50 people is scheduled for early next month in the Napa Valley. I’ve been asked to observe and to facilitate small group discussions as the first phase of my training. That will be my chance to see what I think of the process and of Scorpio himself. I suppose if I don’t like it I can back out.”
“At some cost, I imagine. I can’t quite get over how woo-woo this whole thing sounds. It seems really odd for a company as traditional as Martech to go full-throttle into the New Age – especially when the New Age has been over for a long time, as far as I know. Still, anything that happens in the Napa Valley can’t be all bad. Let’s drink to that.” Dev opened a bottle from Castello di Amorosa – a favorite winery that was housed in a rather authentic-looking faux castle near Calistoga.