So success through team-building exercises? Watkins shrugs noncommittally. It's notoriously difficult to quantify the benefits of team building. But he isn't ruling it out.

"What's so fascinating, and sometimes so frustrating, about drives is that no single person knows how to make one," he says. "It takes people from a lot of different disciplines coming together - from a lot of different cultures, too."

In adventure racing, Watkins found a mirror of his industry. He asked managers worldwide to select a few willing employees from every level of their operation. And he began planning an in-house adventure race that would show Seagate employees how powerful they could be if they banded together.

He sums up his rationale as he prepares for a 24-hour race near Donner Pass in California - although the in-house race is an annual event, Watkins' personal team, Team Seagate, competes many times a year. "Very few people will die for their god, or for money. But for their platoon mates? That's the feeling you get with adventure racing."

Eagle Mountain Ski Resort, near Donner Pass, Friday, 6 p.m.
Watkins receives a list of map coordinates from the race director. At 7:30, Team Seagate huddles in a parking lot at the starting line. Watkins - Bill, to his teammates - reads off the coordinates, which describe checkpoints they must visit. Patrick O'Malley, 39, a Seagate senior vice president of finance and Bill's steady race partner, hands around banana bread. Craig W. Irwin, 25, a seasoned racer and a network specialist with Nortel Networks in San Jose, taps the coordinates into his laptop computer. When the computer plots the location, veteran racer Cary Kinross-Wright, a 29-year-old venture capitalist from Durham, N.C., copies it onto the paper map.