It’s early. Far too early for some. We are flying to The West Coast. Of Ireland. We are not visiting The Valley but will drop into Tom Collins’ pub in Limerick.
It is a relatively rare occurrence for us all to be together. We are crammed into an Aer Lingus jet for our flight across England, Wales, Muir Bhreatan (St George’s Channel), the East Coast of Ireland, and across the interior to the international hub that is Shannon Airport. Go further west and there is nothing but the Atlantic and America beyond that. While I can never sleep on a plane, the ability of others to be asleep before we have taken off never ceases to amuse me. Sameer is collapsed in his window seat as if he had been shot. Ffion is slouched across the aisle in her window seat, the fear of flying banished by sleep. There is a mournful look on her face as if the early morning flight was a crime against young people.
Away days serve many purposes: primarily they are an opportunity to reflect and then to look forward beyond ‘the immediate’ that preoccupies so much of our working lives. In consulting, knowledge-based businesses, there is always added spice to such affairs. ‘The cats’ are out and all efforts at ‘herding’ are lapsed. The arguments will be heated. I measure the general health of the firm by the degree of debate we can sustain while remaining committed to our collective cause. The greater the intensity of the argument, the healthier we are. It is a starkly honest measure of the strength of our culture as a firm.