Open to Change?



I had two excellent opportunities to think about openness and change today.

First up, I received a link to Harold Jarche’s review post of David Price’s Open: How we’ll work live and learn in the future.

I appreciated Harold’s summary of David’s SOFT model in this graphic:


The second opportunity for the contemplation of openness came from colleagues in canoeing via Facebook. It was definitely illuminated by this box in Harold’s matrix (Trust/Business):



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Like many others, I have been profoundly disappointed by the International Canoeing Federation’s (ICF) lack of movement on gender equity in the Olympic disciplines of flatwater and slalom.

This was my post from earlier this year about the ICF’s position.

I was interested, therefore, to read of Richard Fox’s latest contribution to the ICF’s consideration of equity. (Background: the International Canoe Federation (ICF) announced on Saturday it would push to have women’s C1 slalom and C1 200m sprint included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.)

Richard wrote an open letter to the ICF. I have placed my own emphases within his letter.

Dear ICF Board of Directors

Thank you for distributing the press release “C1 Women’s Canoe Events Proposed for the Tokyo Olympics”.

It is positive to see a clear ICF position on the inclusion of more events for women in the Olympic Games. On face value, this can be taken as very good news and we can imagine this shift represents an exciting new opportunity for the Nanjing generation of juniors as well as some yet to start in the sport.

In contrast, high level female athletes continue to be significantly restricted in their access to canoeing events in the Olympic Games relative to men and will have to wait another seven years to see any change. Therefore, assumptions of a positive reaction regarding the potential inclusion of new women’s events in Tokyo should be balanced with a reality check.

We should not overlook Rio in promoting a Tokyo solution and the fact that the ICF has chosen to abandon the trend it started lightly in London 2012 where the men’s C2 500m was replaced with the women’s K1 200m. Instead, the ICF proposes to maintain the status quo of significant gender imbalance until 2020 which means that in Rio 2016, like in London 2012, only 5 out of a total of 16 Olympic gold medals will be available to women.

As it stands, only 1 female athlete per nation is able to compete in a canoe slalom event at the Olympic Games compared to up to 4 men per nation. The men have 3 events to choose from, as opposed to the women who can compete in just 1 event.

The exclusion of women from all canoe class events across both sprint and slalom disciplines at the Olympic Games is a remarkable situation for the ICF to maintain until Tokyo when other sports are clearly shining under the light of increased gender diversity.

The fact is there are 5 canoe class events offered for men  across  sprint and slalom and not a single women’s canoe event, which means our sport will remain firmly at the bottom of the league table when it comes to gender equity measures in Rio 2016.

What has changed in recent years, and this is acknowledged in the ICF article, is the rapid and highly significant growth in participation of C1 women’s event at all ICF world championship events. The numbers tell the story and there is clear evidence that women’s events are on the rise, particularly when measured against other existing Olympic events. If they are “ready for Rio” now, why wait seven years to do the obvious?

Unlike other sports, the ICF has not taken the opportunity to propose a quota neutral solution for Rio, i.e. include an additional women’s event while removing a men’s event, because it is too tough. But standing still is certainly not reflected in the ICF slogan, ” always moving forward”, either. It is a battle of conscious and unconscious bias, where neither side wins until gender balance is achieved.

Open to Change?

Harold opens his review of David Price’s open with a quotation that ends “The genuine democratisation of knowing is still being fought over”.

Equity in canoeing is a contested battleground. On reading Richard’s open letter, and identifying my own points of emphasis, I am hopeful that an observation I made earlier in the year resonates with the exhortation for the ICF to be much more pro-active in change:

I do think we have an important window of conscience available to us in canoeing. We should mind the gender gap as a moral imperative. ‘Mind’ in the sense of thinking deeply and ‘mind’ in terms of being concerned about decisions and their consequences.

Photo Credits

Open Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry (Alan Levine, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Photos of Sportscene Contributors (Doris Corbin)

Joel: Private Troubles and Public Issues

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about R U OK Day. I have received some very kind comments about the post and the sentiments expressed in it.

I have been thinking about the issues the post raised yesterday and today as the story of Joel Monaghan has exploded in the digital media. I was interviewed by a researcher from PRIME about Joel’s behaviour and I thought I would use this post to make the points I made to her.

  1. Regardless of the behaviour exhibited by Joel the publication of the story has enormous outcomes for Joel’s well-being.
  2. He is a remarkable rugby player who behaved in a way that most of us would not behave. From now on he is THE player in THAT photograph. All his commitment and skill will be trivialised and he will be the butt of taunts.
  3. The behaviour that took place appeared to be in a private residence. Discussions about a Raiders’ player have to be put in the context of the location.
  4. The photograph that forms the basis of the story was taken by someone and there may have been other people in the room. These people were ‘friends’ of Joel.
  5. The behaviour occurred on a ‘mad Monday’.

The viral story about Joel is replete with statements of revulsion and a statement on behalf of Joel by his manager. The R U OK part of me acknowledges the gravity of what occurred but raises questions about the duty of care we owe to each other.

I wondered:

  • If many people commenting on the behaviour are conscious of and honest about their own fallibility.
  • If the NRL and the Raiders could transform madness into happiness hereon. Rather than ending a season in such a mad way what if the game celebrated with its communities and then left each player to celebrate in privacy.
  • Highly trained athletes are vulnerable to binge drinking and we should find ways to manage their risks.
  • Viral media are viral! The use of the photograph on Twitter and other web sites confirms with unforgiving permanence that there is a fragile link between private troubles and public issues.
  • Joel is described as a Raiders player in all the media accounts. I think we must be clear about identity. At some point each of us acts as a private citizen and accepts the consequences of our actions. If the events around Joel’s story are located within an organised Raiders’ event in Raiders’ premises then we are involved in a different story.

I am absolutely clear that what occurred is repulsive and in my own case unthinkable. My R U OK sense leads me to support a person who will face a desperate struggle to manage his own identity and the stigma of what occurred. Joel is a person from a culture where appalling acts do occur and that become the subject of selective indignation.

When I was asked by the PRIME researcher what I thought this did for Joel as a role model I asked her to think of it as a reciprocal relationship … all of us have a part in role modelling. Most people will be reviled by what occurred but it occurred in a private space with Joel’s friends around him and has been shared globally with people who can choose to have compassion as well as loathing.

Each time a mad behaviour occurs we all think we can learn from it and do something about it. I believe we must not normalise or condone this behaviour but we must be real about personal fallibility that is now shared in a public way.

The ACT Government is being asked to legislate about the behaviour exhibited in a moment of madness by someone who gave the community so much joy in his role as a rugby player. R We OK about our part in this story?


Joel left the Raiders on Tuesday, 9 November. This is an ABC report of his press statement. Louise Maher has written a post for The Drum on the topic of Joel’s behaviour.

Photo Credit

Into the Light

The Human Condition and Moral Hazard

Last week I was working in the garden at Mongarlowe. It is a most wonderful place to think and reflect.

A story about Muhammad Ali started me off. I was fascinated with Angelo Dundee‘s relationship with Ali and the insight he brought to a young person who became one of the most memorable faces of the second half of the twentieth century. Simon Canning wrote of the program that:

In an age when we have grown accustomed to confected celebrity and beliefs of convenience, this documentary serves as a useful reminder of what a true celebrity and sportsman of substance really was all about.

I could not stop thinking about Angelo Dundee’s wisdom illustrated by the documentary and I felt very strongly that having someone in your corner, literally and metaphorically, is a very special relationship and a wonderful antidote to ‘confected celebrity’.

I managed every kind of fighter and I understood very quickly that every human being has his own approach to life. I didn’t try to change them. I just asked them to follow my advice inside and outside the ring, to be sure that they were 100% the day of the fight. I can proudly say that I became friend of every boxer I worked with.

What is fascinating is that Angelo Dundee was able to use this approach with a range of boxing champions over a long period of time.

Whilst thinking about the documentary I listened to a Radio National program, Counterpoint, featuring Kate Jennings and was introduced to ‘moral hazard’. She discussed two kinds of moral hazard. One is the subject of her novel and the other is that discussed in detail in Wikipedia. This latter moral hazard arises when “an individual or institution does not bear the full consequences of its actions, and therefore has a tendency to act less carefully than it otherwise would, leaving another party to bear some responsibility for the consequences of those actions.”

My pondering on her work was somewhat later than Guy Maddison in his post. In August last year he introduced his post thus:

What’s going on in the financial markets? It’s not just about liquidity and asset bubbles. We’ve long been conditioned to think the stock market is relatively safe because of all the reforms and regulations implemented since 1929. Sure, the market might go up or down hundreds of points in a day — but off a 13,000-plus Dow that’s nothing. Most people think a 1929 style crash couldn’t possibly happen now.

He concludes (after a synopsis of Kate Jenning’s novel):

Much of our securities trading now takes place under the totally unregulated umbrella of the hedge funds, which have been operating on a laissez faire frontier for a long time now. They should have learned — and been regulated — after LTCM in 1998, but that didn’t happen.

Now, nobody knows what’s going on behind their walls. There’s no way to know, with their very limited reporting requirements. The bottom could fall out tomorrow, and the damage would be done before anything could be done about it.

Back to Angelo who started me off thinking about the essence of a person that has insight and a real understanding of human behaviour. As the world financial crisis unfolded in the latter part of 2008 I wondered who was in whose corner and who defines risk and hazard.

In earlier blog posts I have linked to homelessness, fistula and the Merry Makers. What links these posts I believe is a human condition that could transform moral hazard into an ethical set of behaviours to underpin business practice.

I understand that such transformation requires dealing with ‘insatiability‘. It necessitates addressing the impetus to seek ‘confected celebrity” too!

I am off to the garden to work out some of these thoughts! I am wondering too about the concept of the Commons and the possibilities for a common wealth. I need to get started on Metcalfe’s Law too!