Bosses seeking an edge in the post-COVID era of remote work have turned to a militaristic approach to team building — according to one report, some are paying more than $100,000 for “Top Gun”-style simulations to keep their troops safe to collect.
Those C-suite executives — from companies as diverse as Nike, Pepsi, and Bank of America — who “feel the need for speed” can adopt their own Maverick or Ice Man callsign and engage in missions “to meet your… rescue teammates and bring them home”. ,, The New York Times reported.
“If you lose sight of the plane you’re fighting, you lose the fight,” said Christian Boucousis, CEO of Atlanta-based Afterburner. “We use that as a metaphor: if you lose sight of your business goals, you won’t achieve them.”
According to the company’s website, Boucousis’ company employs a team of veteran pilots, Navy SEALs and military commandos to train company leaders to “work with the same precision and accuracy as elite military aviators and special operations teams.”
According to The Times, Top Gun Experience training starts at $10,000 for a small team and can go up to $100,000 for a larger team.
“Show the fighter jet pilot that’s on your team,” says one of the company’s promotional videos.
Afterburner offers companies “experiential team building” exercises that include “fighter pilot simulations” designed to “help your team strengthen relationships, build trust, and improve communication.”
Team members “assume a true fighter pilot callsign” while assuming roles such as “squadron commander,” thrown into challenging scenarios that hone their sense of decision-making.
Afterburner is part of a trend towards experiential training based on military precision as companies adapt to the work-from-home phenomenon triggered by the pandemic, experts say.
Another management training company based in the financial district, The Squadron, uses advanced F-35 flight simulators — typically reserved for training Israeli Air Force pilots — to teach business and life lessons to company leaders.
The trainees come from companies including Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Google, The Post previously reported.
“Leaders are trying to regain a sense of control that they think they’ve lost in recent years,” Cali Williams Yost, a workplace strategist, told The Times. “They’re trying to reestablish control and power in ways that seem familiar to them.”
Lessons aren’t just limited to metaphors dealing with flying at Mach 1 speeds.
Over the Wall, a company founded by former NASCAR pit crew coach Andy Papathanassiou, charges a minimum of $10,000 to train corporate teams to change tires on a race car as if they were overseeing a real pit stop at a NASCAR event would.
Papathanassiou said the goal is to instill an “over the wall mentality” that aims to “develop the cognitive building blocks of what athletes are.”
Testimonials posted on the company’s website by CEOs whose teams participated in the exercises report that it has helped improve “communication, collaboration, teamwork and strategic thinking.”
Kris Kovacs, the CEO of fintech firm Constellation Digital Partners, told the Times that his 30 employees had to simulate a NASCAR pit stop in the company parking lot.
“It sounds silly to me, but the hardest part is getting the tire on,” Kovacs told the Times.
“This teaches you that you need to plan ahead. Difficult things always become easier with practice and planning ahead.”