Wednesday, 4 November 2015

CIPD Conference Blog #4 of many

'After a ridiculously healthy lunch I tried to get around the Exhibition to pick up goodies, but never actually managed it due to running into numerous people and getting sidetracked. 

Now I'm sat listening to Sir Clive Woodward talk about the DNA of a Champion. I've admired Clive's work for a long time and have read his Leadership book a few times. 

Talent alone is not enough is the phrase he opened his speech with. Talent can only get you so far, and melding various talents together is the more difficult task. 

Clive shared his view of what else you need to make the most of talent. You need to study your craft and be interested in it, and you need to be a sponge in order to soak up new techniques and skills. 

I agree wholeheartedly with this and my development from couch potato to above average triathlete is based around those principles. I recognise I can only get better by showing an interest in being the best, and by watching and learning from others. And so that's why this year I've joined a triathlon club and started adapting my training regime after watching others who are better than me. 

In managing a team, Clive asserts that one needs to identify students and sponges and work with both. 

Clive showed us how he used technology and the emerging tech of things like Prozone, now commonplace in analysis on Monday Night Football with Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, to develop his team but develop the use of IT and use of data and analytics to look at performance within the England Rugby Team. 

Absolutely right, too. 

The sporting world is years ahead of the business world in its use of technology driven data to analyse its best performance. What is interesting though is how Clive really pushed for the front line staff (rugby players) to develop their own IT skills and analytical skills to review their own and others performance, as opposed to this being something the manager or coach did solo. 

In my own training and sport, I am all over the data I have about myself. I use it to improve what I do, to set myself targets and to motivate myself. I can't imagine training or performing without it. 

But how often do we see that in business?

Clive started using Prozone and similar tech to look at the game and performance in a different way, and sometimes began using it instead of looking at actual video footage. And then he broke down the whole of a game of rugby into just seven areas, and began capturing the knowledge of every person involved in the team in each of the seven areas. 

This is knowledge management at its most basic, but also being applied in an advanced way. If that makes sense. 

Clive showed how everyone could contribute to this and collaborate with each other using technology. But in a way it's the Wikipedia principle, downloading the knowledge of everyone and putting it in one place for all to see and use. Again, how often does this happen in business? Not as often as it should. 

But having the knowledge is one thing. Using it, as Know How, is another. Converting the knowledge into strategy and tactics is tricky, and often needs to be done under pressure. So the ability to use knowledge under pressure and to perform is critical. 

And Clive coaches this ability using the T-Cup principle. Thinking Correctly Under Pressure. It's common in sport, but not in business. 

Clive got individual players to come up in coaching sessions and talk about what they would do in a pressurised situation, then he expected them to do it for real. 

I've done this in my triathlon training. For example in the swim lots of things can go wrong, most commonly colliding with other swimmers and the risk of losing your breath and swallowing water etc. You can't practice for this as it's difficult to recreate, but you can think through what you would do in such a situation. So I plan for it and visualise it. What would I do if it happened? And then of course it DOES happen and you remember what you've told yourself. 

And it works. 

But we don't do this kind of visualisation and planning often in business. 

Clive finished by talking about attitude and having a passion for detail, showing how the margins of victory and success can be so narrow, that one needs to make the most of ones talent by having the right attitude, the right approach to learning, an awareness of technology and the benefits that data can bring, and a passion for using knowledge and working hard. 

Great teams are made up of great individuals, said Clive. But these individuals need to be able to work together and learn together. 

Food for thought. 

Till next time. 

Gary