Management: Extreme Offsites

In a service economy that favors soft skills, more companies are trying expensive and quirky training tricks to keep employees up to date

Looking for ways to improve the bottom line? Try selling the boss on this idea: take all the people in the office on a three-day trip. Fly them to an exotic locale so they can learn kayaking--at his expense.

It's tough to imagine the CEO of a lean, mean operation falling for that one five years ago. It's tougher still to imagine that it would work, as a lot of CEOs apparently now do. Major businesses like Pfizer, American Express and Southwest Airlines, along with much smaller outfits, are laying out more than $55.3 billion annually--almost twice what they spent in...

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