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Can an Agatha Christie adventure actually improve your skill set?

Agatha Christie Books on shelf with magnifying glass

I published the first version of this blog back in 2016 as an homage to the Queen of Crime.   Now, I’m revisiting it with a 2021 eye by asking a slightly different question; can our team building activities actually improve your skill set?  More to the point, what’s that got to do with Agatha Christie?

Firstly, some of her novels gripped me so much that I can still remember the feeling 30 years later of reaching the final climactic pages of the absolute classic The Murder of Roger Ackroyd for example.    By reproducing this feeling through our team building activities we engage teams from the start.  However,  our events aren’t just about a cracking plot…

What’s in your skill set?

A good detective novel should make the reader want to know whodunnit.   The reader should strive to investigate all of the avenues to piece the information together to come up with a plausible solution.  They’ll want to leave no loose ends.  Years of reading and watching murder mysteries has rewarded me with a set of skills which have been invaluable in every job I’ve had, and include:

  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Designing systems and approaches to make processes easier and more efficient
  • Completing a project satisfactorily, leaving no loose ends

By taking the structure of a good mystery and creating an activity around it we can aim to do the same for the participants.  Of course, every role requires a slightly different skill set but let’s just look at a couple of skills which are invaluable in any surroundings.

Critical Thinking

According to this website this is:

the ability to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas. Critical thinking requires you to use your ability to reason. It is about being an active learner rather than a passive recipient of information”

and critical thinkers are:

able to approach problems in a consistent and systematic way”

One way to improve critical thinking skills is to question assumptions and try thinking several moves ahead.  What better way to challenge assumptions than to face a group of suspects who may or may not be lying?  How can you work your way through a maze of motives, timelines and clues without being a step ahead? A decent murder mystery challenge will regularly test these skills.

Active Listening

Many people simply hear what others are saying to them, without fully concentrating on what is being said.  We all know what that’s like; who hasn’t had a frustrating conversation with someone like this?  The same site tells us that:

Active listening is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding

It sounds simple, and it is; if you’re trying to find the solution to a problem (or in our case, crime or murder) then you simply must actively listen to everyone around you in order to gain an understanding and glean as much valuable information as possible.

One way to improve your active listening skills is to pretend that you will be tested on how much of what you heard and understood when someone is talking to you.  With our team building exercises there is no need to pretend, because teams are consistently encouraged to actively listen and come up with a solution to a problem.

Ok, you may not listen to a book (unless it’s one of these) but the principle is the same.  Its the equivalent of deep concentration rather than skim reading just to get to the end of a chapter.

The Agatha Christie Effect

Agatha Christie has enjoyed a bit of  resurgence over the past few years, with several TV and film adaptations of some of her classics.  Despite this, some people still think of her as stuffy, boring, a ‘hack’.  However, bestselling author Sophie Hannah has written four new Poirot novels since 2014 and sums up Christie very well here:

No one should condescend to Agatha Christie – she’s a genius

In the article she says:

Each of her novels demonstrates a profound understanding of people – how they think, feel and behave.  Christie knew detail mattered; she knew that those who ignore the apparently minor have little or no chance of understanding greater truths.

Placing employees in situations which require them to develop, improve or enhance their attention to detail, actively listen to others, think critically to solve problems and of course, understand the people around them can’t fail to help produce an engaged and productive workforce, can it?

Get in touch to find out how we can help.