Challenge Conference: Celebrating a Learning Organisation

I have had a wonderful two days at the England and Wales Cricket Board’s Challenge Conference at St. George’s Park.

I admire immensely the transformations Hugh Morris and Gordon Lord have brought to elite performance and coach education.

Their work and the remarkable energy at this conference have prompted me to think about learning organisations (and consequently Harold Jarche‘s views on such organisations).

Harold noted in a post earlier this year (31 May) that three indicators would suggest a true learning organisation:

In the same post, Harold writes about his review and synthesis several of his observations on learning in networked environments. He proposes:

Two of the many innovations discussed at the Challenge Conference are: the launch of a Hub App to support Level 4 coaches; and the establishment of a Fellowship of Elite Coaches.

The Hub will go live on 5 November and offers a rich resource for coaches that are “interconnected in the network era”. The Fellowship is a group of elite coaches distinguished by their achievements and contribution to coaching. It aims to advance the philosophy, practice and methodology in cricket coaching whilst furthering the role of coaching as a profession.

Simon Timson’s Science and Medicine update on day two of the conference was the embodiment of a learning organisation for me. Simon reviewed six years’ work with the ECB and discussed three themes:

  1. You do not need to be fit to play cricket
  2. You cannot predict future potential
  3. Punishment is bad

In discussing each of these themes, Simon drew upon the work of teams of colleagues who were contributing to transformation. His presentation exemplified Harold’s principles. Simon narrated his work in a transparent environment. He gave evidence daily support for social learning. He has made time available for reflection and sharing stories.

Simon has just been appointed UK Sport’s Performance Director. He will take up his post in January 2013. I think this is an outstanding appointment that will raise important issues for both organisations about continuity in learning.

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