Open to Change?

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Introduction

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:

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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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Canoeing

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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)

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:

Chasm2

(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.

Canoe

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

Leadership

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)

Narration and Narrative Form

8094090513_c2b1736d7e_o I received a Twitter alert overnight from Darrell Cobner (@CPAUWIC) https://twitter.com/CPAUWIC/status/381782446309916672 Darrell and I have been exchanging ideas about performance analysis as story telling and story sharing. (I posted some thoughts about this last week in What Counts?) I was interested to learn that Darrell was sharing some Harold Jarche insights from What’s Working and What’s Not Working in Online Training. Harold points out that “Today, content capture and creation tools let people tell their own stories and weave these together to share in their networks. It’s called ‘narrating your work'”. He adds that:

The public narration of what we do, attempt and learn on a daily basis not only helps us help others, but also puts us in a position to get help from peers. When your co-workers know what you’re working on and what problems you run into, they can offer their experience.

I liked the way Harold explained the flow of sharing through stories and his encouragement of collaboration. I try to monitor opportunities for online collaboration and cooperation. Darrell and Harold set me off thinking about narration and narrative form (I revisited some of the fifty-four posts on Clyde Street with a narrative tag). Back in 1988 Donald Polkinghorne produced the delightful book Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences. In his preface to the book he observes that “practitioners work with narrative knowledge. They are concerned with people’s stories…” In Chapter Two he notes that “Narrative is the fundamental scheme for linking individual human actions and events into interrelated aspects of an understandable composite.” I think we have remarkable opportunities to develop a digital “understandable composite”. Our sense of the aesthetic enables each of us to share a narration in a narrative form. I wondered if in response to Darrell, I might nominate seven tools to support the public sharing that Harold identifies as an important component of a community of practice.

I think each one of these tools has enormous potential for the narration discussed by Darrell and Harold. The choice is personal and enables each of us to have our narrative form.

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As I was compiling the list I was think how our narration might be acknowledged by our communities of practice. In addition to the collaboration Harold identifies as important in these communities, I started to think about how a tool like Accredible might make this narration even more transparent by finding a way of peer valuing of experience.

Photo Credit

Henry Cabot Lodge speaking (Boston Public Library, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)