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Here is the WORST way to spend your team development budget

Whiskey distilleries.

There, I said it.

The single worst way to spend your team development budget is at a whiskey distillery.

(If you have arrived at this article because you're interested in developing your team – drop me an email to with 'Team Development' in the title, and I'll give you a flavour of our ALIGNED Teams event).

It's not that I have anything specific against whiskey (actually, I do; I can't stand the stuff, but that's beside the point), but distillery tours are not where teams get stronger, higher performing or even get to know each other better.

This really happened. I was asked to facilitate an event for a large professional services organisation. There was a degree of back and forth about the fees and even more about what could be achieved in the small time we had.

I arrived at the event, was setting up, and the organiser let me know that I would have to finish early because the group were going on a tour of a whiskey distillery.

Maybe I should have walked away, but I decided to do what I could to give as much value as I could, especially to the numerous people who were there that didn't drink alcohol.

What made things even worse was that simple maths told me that the client was spending more on the distillery tour than on the workshop that would actually give them what they needed to become a highly aligned and high-performing team.

For distillery tour, you could substitute city-wide treasure hunts, spa weekends, cocktail-making lessons and paint-balling. All of these are fun, but none have much to do with creating high-performing leadership teams in organisations that are demanding, fast-paced and fast-changing.

Three ways to maximise your investment in team development

Be outcomes-led What specific changes do you want to see as a result of the time you spend together? How will these changes lead to better results? Don't do things for the novelty of them.

Go bespoke While we have key elements that we know develop alignment, performance and relationships within a team, no two team events are ever exactly the same. Team experiences should be bespoke for the group and their outcomes. Don't settle for off-the-shelf events.

Scale back the social It might not be a popular view, but too often, the socials get in the way of real team development. Brilliant teams don't just happen. There is a process, and it is ongoing. Socialising is definitely a part of this, especially when it is inclusive, but if you only spend a day or two a year together focusing on being a brilliant team, and half of that time is spent drunk or hungover, it is money down the drain - literally.

If you want to develop your team in 2024, we would love to work with you.

Our ALIGNED Team approach has been used in the likes of Netflix, Merlin Entertainments, CBRE and many more. To find out if this is the right approach for you, email me via


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