A Community-Focused Modified Boxing Program

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Paul Perkins is involved in an exciting initiative.

Paul and Allan Hahn have been successful in securing funding to introduce a Community-Focused Modified Boxing Program in twenty schools in Uttarakhand, India in 2017.

The project aims to use an adapted form of boxing (ModBox) to:

  • provide health and fitness outcomes
  • develop life skills for participants
  • raise awareness of environmental issues
  • increase opportunities for female participation in sport

ModBox has been designed to be a low-risk form of boxing. It takes place in encouraging and supportive environments led by sensitive, appreciative coaching and teaching. Emphasis is placed on athlete enjoyment and safety. Participants wear impact-absorbing gloves. There is no contact with a co-participant’s head or neck.

ModBox has five core values:

  • Safety
  • Continuous learning
  • Fair play
  • Inclusiveness
  • Respectfulness

The program aims “to provide space and time for young people to enjoy the benefits of regular exercise and to use informal learning through sport to teach important life skills”.

The course of study can be found here.

Photo Credit

Bridge over Alakananda (Runa Bhattacharjee, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

About Paul and the ModBox Program

Paul Perkins is a PhD Scholar at the University of Canberra Research Institute for Sport and Exercise (UCRISE) and the Participation Manager at Boxing Australia. Allan Hahn has provided support and guidance with the development of this program. The ModBox program is being supported by the Australian Government, Boxing Australia and SEDA India will be supplemented by contributions from an Australian company, VTara Energy Group Pty Ltd, the University of Canberra, and the NungshiTashi Foundation. The program is funded through a partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as part of an upcoming aid initiative.

Open for Learning: Supporting Coach Education and Development

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Introduction

I was hoping to attend the Sport Leadership sportif Conference in Calgary in November.

I was looking forward to presenting a paper with David Legg and Stephen Price. The title of the paper is Open for Learning: Supporting Coach Development Online. Our aim was to combine insights from Australia and Canada to discuss open access to coach education and development resources.

I was very keen to link open learning opportunities with the insights and practices of Canadian connectivist thinkers and practitioners.

I am disappointed that I am unable to go to Calgary.

I have posted my part of the presentation as a SlideCast. I use experience of a Small Open Online Course (SOOC) to introduce Box’Tag as the focus for the paper.

Given the time constraints on an oral presentation, I thought I would provide some background information here as part of the story behind the story.

The story itself is: two remarkable people decide to offer an open, online coach education and development opportunity. They use the OpenLearning platform to host the course.

Mentor, Driver, Steward

I mention Allan Hahn in the presentation.

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I was not sure how to talk about Allan’s role in the course. His wisdom, gentility and guiding hand were omnipresent. Allan is an exemplary mentor and has developed a very close working relationship over a number of years with Paul Perkins, the driver of the course.

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Allan and Paul are passionate about Box’Tag. They welcomed participants to the course in this video.

Whenever I meet Allan and Paul, I am struck by their energy and excitement. Anything seems possible. I admire immensely their work at the Erindale PCYC and their connections with their communities.

I see this mentor/driver relationship as the key to the success of the course. There is a profound Socratic element at play in this relationship. It has been fascinating observing Paul transform his coaching as a result of his mentee experiences.

As the technology steward for the course and had a very privileged opportunity to watch Allan and Paul at work.

OpenLearning and Accredible

We were very fortunate to use the OpenLearning platform for the course. In the SlideCast, I note the role Adam Brimo played in helping us realise our ambitions for the SOOC. Open access needs champions and advocates. I feel very fortunate to have met Adam. I think the functionality offered by OpenLearning was invitational and easy to use.

Technology did not get in the way of the course.

Whilst acting as a steward on the course, I found Accredible. I admire their work in documenting learning journeys. I see this as a remarkable opportunity to develop e-portfolios to share. Jenny Kim writes:

What we realized was that we’re far more interested in documenting educational journeys from their beginning rather than signaling their ends. Instead of a certificate, we needed a symbol of openness, possibility, potential. This is where “slate” came from; a “blank slate,” from the Latin tabula rasa, is meant to be filled with new ideas and experiences.

Paul has developed his own Accredible slate as a result of his SOOC experiences. You can find it here.

Shortly after I completed the SlideCast I shared it with Paul. By coincidence one of the participants in the course, Sabrina, was asking me to endorse her participation in the course to share with her college. This is Sabrina’s Accredible slate.

As part of her work experience, Sabrina, spent some time at the PCYC and at the end of the week made a presentation of her experiences to Allan Hahn.

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I was very pleased to receive a Vocaroo message from Sabrina and Paul. We have used Vocaroo and Audioboo on the SOOC to share messages with these free online recorders.

Their message (included here with their permission):

My reply:

The Kicker?

In sharing this story behind a story, I hope I have given a feel for the richness of being involved in open learning.

There are three Ps involved in this back story: Passion, People, Platforms.

My aim, in presenting this story in Calgary, is to affirm that by sharing openly and fallibly our learning journeys, we can transform coach education and development.

Photo Credit

Calgary, Alberta (Reg Natarajan, CC BY 2.0)

Innovation: impact or distraction in high performance sport?

Introduction

DSCF7600I have been invited to present a guest lecture to students in the High Performance Sports Management unit at the University of Canberra.

The topic is a question – Innovation: impact or distraction in high performance sport?

I think the answer is “Yes, both”.

In my talk, I will discuss my apparent equivocation with reference to:

  • Intrapreneurship
  • Hype
  • Disruption
  • Strategic Leadership

I hope that these might lead to a qualification of my “Yes” answer.

Before I get to these points I would like to flip this talk. I am encouraging students to look at some or all of these recommendations in advance of our meeting:

Frank Barrett on being uncomfortable (3 minute video).

Clayton Christensen on disruptive innovation (8 minute video)

A Fourth Age of Sports Institutes (25 minute SlideCast)

I have prepared this 10 minute 42 second podcast too.

Innovation

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My imagined audience for this talk is anyone involved in high performance sport or considering engaging with it as a career or as a volunteer. Whatever role one takes, innovation requires the shifting and management of risk rather than its avoidance. It requires political will above all (top-down leadership and support).

I like High Performance Sport New Zealand‘s (HPSNZ) definition of innovation as “solving a measurable performance issue with a new approach or product which will result in sustainable change for a sport, athlete or HP sport system”. I will return to HPSNZ later in this presentation.

If we are to explore innovation in the lecture then we need to note Everett Rogers’ work and the technology adoption lifecycle.

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I think it is helpful to look at Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point too. I like Harold Jarche’s (2010) discussion of the chasm to be crossed to connect innovators and early adopters “to the more pragmatic majority”.

Harold has visualised this chasm:

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(Note: Content from jarche.com is protected under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial Share Alike License)

My example here is the adoption of an App for sharing information at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Inc.com cited this app as one of augmented reality’s first big smashes “the official London 2012 app displayed nearby transportation and scheduling information for more than 40,000 live events based on where users’ cameras happened to be focused”). Xomo and Wikitude worked together on the app.

It prompted me to think about the advocacy needed to position the app innovation for decision makers to manage the risk of a combined planning and augmented reality resource.

Intrapreneurship

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In 1978, Gifford Pinchot and Elizabeth Pinchot wrote about Intra-Corporate Entrepreneurship. In their paper, they propose that intra-corporate entrepreneurs are “intrapreneurs”.

Intrapreneurs …

  • Must risk something of value to themselves (“It tests and later increases intrapreneurial conviction and drive. It binds the corporation in an implied contract not to stop the intrapreneur for any reason other than poor performance”).
  • Share the rewards of success in an intrapreneurial project with the corporation in a well-defined and equitable way.
  • Should have the opportunity to build up something akin to capital.
  • Should have an independent spirit.

Gifford and Elizabeth conclude their paper with these observations:

People have enormous potential for goodness, for insight, for creativity, for intimacy, and for work. Much of this potential is trapped within the constraints of today’s huge hierarchical organizations. The development of the entrepreneur is a step toward freeing individuals, our organizations, and our society to use our potential for building fuller, more meaningful, richer and more productive lives for us all.

My suggestion is that high performance sport requires intrapreneurs. An organisation focussed on transforming performance needs to support insights from the staff it has recruited to do exactly this.

I think this provides organisations with points of difference that make sustainable innovation possible.

One example of such activity is the work of Professor Allan Hahn at the AIS. Allan worked closely with the developers of the Catapult GPS systems. Their partnership within the Cooperative Research Centres program is an excellent example of a technology disrupting practice and then becoming a ‘normal’ part of the training and competitions contexts.

Hype

Gartner has developed a graphical representation of a hype curve.

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Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gartner_Hype_Cycle.svg

My suggestion is that high performance sport needs people who can evaluate innovation by filtering enthusiastic spruiking (hype) with knowledge and understanding. The debate in Australian sport this year about supplements is an excellent case study in how organisations can get caught up in hype. It requires enormous fortitude to argue against hard sell particularly if the argument involves first principles.

Back in 1998 I had the opportunity to try out one of the first digital cameras. I brought it out to Australia to share at the Sports Coach Conference in Melbourne. I thought it was an important innovation and talked about the convergence (“the separate technologies which provide the telephone, the computer and the television are now converging in ways which increase the educational application of each”) of media.

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Eleven years later is seemed quite normal to post digital images on Flickr. Our phones today have very powerful cameras that were impossible to find as a free standing camera back in 1998.

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One of the challenges for innovators is that there is often minimal evidence based practice to support innovation decisions, particularly when there has been sometimes a decade long wait from original idea to everyday use.

Internet search is making it easier for us to find the story behind an innovation and understand its footprint of emergence.

Disruption

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Joseph Bower and Clayton Christensen (1995) introduced their Catching the Wave paper with this observation:

One of the most consistent patterns in business is the failure of leading companies to stay at the top of their industries when technologies or markets change.

Joseph and Clayton point out that disruptive technologies have two important characteristics:

  • They present a different package of performance attributes … ones that, at least at the outset, are not valued by existing customers.
  • The performance attributes that exiting customers do value improve at such a rapid rate that the new technology can later invade those established markets.

Clayton has explored in detail the relationship between disruptive and sustaining innovations.

Source: http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/
Source: http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/

Irving Wladawsky-Berger (2013) has some interesting insights to share about organisational response to disruptive innovation. He proposes three key points: the need for a clear, compelling strategy that the whole organization can rally around; the management of disruptive innovation initiatives; and the importance of top-down leadership and support.

  • “While we all talk about how exciting it is to embrace disruptive innovations, we often forget that disruptive innovations are indeed disruptive, not only in the marketplace, but also for individuals and groups in your own organization.”
  • “Disruptive innovation initiatives requires a more entrepreneurial management style based on establishing an early market presence; close collaborations with research communities, business partners and early adopters; and learning in the marketplace through continuous experimentation and refinement until it becomes clear what the company’s strategy should be.”
  • “Top management support is absolutely essential for initiatives based on disruptive innovations to have any serious chance of success.”

Strategic Leadership

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I see Irving’s point about top-down leadership as fundamental in resolving the place of innovation in an organisation. This is the place where impact meets distraction.

Whilst I am an advocate of flat organisational structures in which experience is valued as much as rank, I do understand that without political will, bottom up change has very little opportunity to flourish.

I see the potential for innovation to have impact facilitated by sensitive leaders who are connected with their organisation and the community they serve.

I think two high performance sport systems offer some excellent discussion points about how to address disruptive innovation. One is the Australian Institute of Sport and its Winning Edge vision. The other is High Performance Sport New Zealand‘s Targeted High Performance Innovation. Both countries are in a globalised sport system and have to address how to compete against other nations with larger populations and greater funding.

Impact or Distraction?

I started out this post with an equivocal “Yes” answer to Innovation as Impact or Distraction. My aim in the presentation has been to use Intrapreneurship, Hype, Disruption and Strategic Leadership to move to an optimistic view of organisations renewed and transformed by considered perspectives on innovation.

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I believe impact comes from inclusive, strategic leadership that values the talents of those in the organisation. I think it is vital to have members of the organisation (spotters as well as intrapreneurs) who have the autonomy to search for and monitor change in an eco system.

I think a vibrant organisation is characterised by Everett Rogers’ early adoption. I like Alistair Gray’s description of such an organisation as “hot”.

My hope is that units, like the one for which I have prepared this presentation, encourage prospective consideration of innovation. I have included some links to potential case studies to support this prospecting.

Thank you for sharing this conversation.

Photo Credits

Innovation (Stephanie Booth, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Ashoka Intrapreneur Simon Stumpf (Wil Kristin, CC BY 2.0)

Disruption (Theo Jones, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Leadership (thephotographymuse, CC BY 2.0)

Bushfires (CSIRO)