A Welsh council has turned to the movies to draw out Oscar-winning performances out of its managers and improve public services.
Last week, Personnel Today featured Rhondda Cynon Taf council on the front page after it came under fire from local politicians for sending more than 200 senior managers on a Star Trek-themed training day, costing £5,000.
But county borough HR officer, Tony Wilkins, defended the programme, saying fun has been a key factor in training managers to create a shared corporate vision, which has helped to pull the council back from the brink of bankruptcy.
Wilkins said the organisation had been "a council in crisis" four years ago, when it was created from the amalgamation of three borough councils and half a county council.
The themed training days form part of the council's quarterly professional development days - which bring the entire senior management team together - and provide them with a mixture of classroom learning and experiential training.
Wilkins said the training days give senior management an opportunity to create a forum for ideas that could be shared across departments, and in turn create a shared identity and vision for the council.
The 'Starship Endeavour' staff training day was the latest in a line of 'blockbuster' development programmes, which have included 'Songs from the Movies', and Lord of the Rings events.
The Star Trek training programme included such events as 'If we are to leave the Delta Quadrant safely, Katherine, we must plot a careful course through Borg Space' - training about the importance of having good financial and performance management processes.
Managers have responded favourably to the new approach with 97 per cent rating the themed events as good or very good in terms of relevance to their jobs, compared with just 59 per cent in July 2002 under the old training regime.
Wilkins believes the management training has improved leadership across the council and has also helped the participants to engage with the business.
"We are taking away painful days stuck in a room and replacing them with an atmosphere where people get stuck in and talk," he said.
"The light-hearted approach is incidental to the content, doesn't cost any more and enables managers to be creative and still focus on what is important," he added.
The council's innovat