Performance Narratives

I am back in Australia after a visit to Germany.

On my return I have come across three different resources to fuel my interest in performance narratives.

1. Team BMC

James Bennett has posted a great article on the Drum website. In a post titled Cadel Evans and the Armstrong parallels, James points out:

  • Cadel Evans’s references to how he structured this year’s season around the Tour de France sounds like what another guy who was good at winning Le Tour used to say.
  • Lance Armstrong changed professional cycling by focussing exclusively on riding to win just one race a year (albeit the biggest race of the year).
  • He did that with the backing of his directeur sportif, Johan Bryneel, who created a squad of riders whose sole objective was to drag Lance around France, because he believed that Lance could win the race.
  • Evans joined forces with American Jim Ochowitz. He  is an Olympian who founded the first ever American-backed cycling team, 7-Eleven in 1981. It then became Motorolla after a change of sponsor, and was Lance Armstrong’s entrée into the European peloton in 1992.
  •  In an interview with the ABC this week, Jim Ochowitz repeats the single-minded mantra Lance wrote about in his best-selling book, It’s not about the bike. “We’re only here for one reason and that is to race for Cadel,” Ochowitz says.

I liked in particular the point Jim made in his interview:  BMC has “Tour-winning experience to call on”.

  • George Hincapie, was Lance Armstrong’s right hand man, safeguarding the Texan through the incessant bumping and jostling for position in the peloton. Now the American veteran is using his vast tactical experience (this is Hincapie’s 16th Tour de France – equalling the record set by Belgian Joop Zoetemelk) to shepherd Evans through the race.
  • In the Tour’s first week, which traversed the often windy flatlands and rolling hills of northern France, it was Hincapie who rode in front of Cadel Evans, keeping him well positioned and safe from a nervous peloton as crashes ended the hopes of many touted as contenders for this year’s race.

2. Hawks’ Huddle

Adam Simpson talks through a Quarter Time Huddle for the Hawks. I found this a fascinating discussion of the practice of information sharing.

3. A Different View of the Tour de France

Sport involves a great deal of ritual. I think this video from Remi Gaillard has some interesting insights into Tour de France rituals.

Photo Credit

Tourwinnaar Lucien Petit-Breton

Developing Performance Contexts: Ecology Insights

A brief post to note a remarkable Science Show program on Radio National.

When humans first set foot in New Zealand almost a thousand years ago, they encountered a rich fauna of reptiles and flightless birds. These first human visitors, and visitors and settlers since brought with them rats, cats, mice, rabbits and stoats which feasted on the local fauna, or degraded the environment, driving many original species to extinction. But luckily, a few small offshore islands remain undisturbed. Now scientists are using these islands as ecological lifeboats, as a source supplying birds and reptiles back to the mainland.

If you do not have time to listen to the podcast have a look at the transcript.

I think it contains some great insights for those who are looking to develop long term, sustainable performance cultures (ecologies). I think the power of the insights is that they come from outside the literature on performance.

They include:

  • The role research and development plays in charting ecological change.
  • The good fortune in having made a strategic decision over 120 years ago to preserve island habitats.
  • The early adoption of GPS and GIS to map and deliver pest eradication schemes.
  • The use of forensic science to map the risk of invasive species and develop probabilistic models of behaviour of these species.
  • The development of biosecurity procedures to safeguard sanctuaries including training procedures for detection dogs.
  • The use of triple bottom line measures to evaluate the effectiveness of island sanctuaries. (David Towns observed that “So we’re trying to interest some theoretical economists in this kind of thing and we are rather hopeful that there will be other people also that we can drag into this kind of a debate because the value of biodiversity as an ecosystem service to people has never been worked out. A good way to calculate it has never been defined. We desperately need to have it because to make the planet inhabitable we need to show people what their biodiversity is worth to them.“)
  • New Zealand shares its expertise on eradication of pests.

The program concluded with a discussion of the development of a mainland sanctuary, Tawharanui Open Sanctuary at Tawharanui Regional Park. It is a pest-proof sanctuary protected by a fence. Tawharanui exemplifies all the lessons learned on the islands and I was immensely impressed by the intense attention to detail in the creation, management and development of a mainland sanctuary.

I left the program thinking of the enormous synergies between the ecologies of sanctuaries and the environments we seek to create to enhance performance.

Photo Credit

Moulting Gentoo Penguin Macquarie Island

And the sky opened up to breath us in

Performance and Productivity

Patrick Dunleavy was a guest of ANZSOG at the University of Canberra this week.

He gave a talk titled  The Second Wave of Digital Era Governance.

An abstract of his talk:

Some of the most difficult issues in public management revolve around making strategic choices for the future in an era of rapid social, cultural and technological change. In previous work we drew a contrast between new public management (NPM) approaches, which predominated in the period 1980-2002, and digital era governance (DEG) which grew fast in the 2000s. Since that time the rapid development of societal and technological uses of online processes has been matched by the seismic impact of the 2008 credit crunch and financial crisis, now mapping out as austerity regimes in many OECD countries. In this paper we review the current fortunes of NPM, which has not revived despite the pressure on public spending. By contrast, the first wave of digital-era governance changes have flourished  and the importance of key DEG themes has increased – specifically reintegrating government services,  pushing  towards holistic delivery to clients and responding to the  digitalization wave in public services. We also argue for the emergence of an influential ‘second wave’ of digital-era changes inside government, responding to the advent of the social web, cloud computing, apps development and many other recent phenomena moving advanced industrial societies further towards an  online civilization.

I enjoyed Patrick’s presentation very much and liked the way he dealt with questions at the end of his talk. My ears pricked up particularly when he mentioned an interesting and powerful trinity: agility, disintermediation and productivity. I think these are key characteristics of the second wave Patrick and his colleagues are investigating. I noticed that Patrick and Leandro Carrera are co-authoring Growing the Productivity of Public Services (forthcoming from Edward Elgar, 2012).

Just as I was mulling over the ideas shared by Patrick I received an alert to a post by Wayne Goldsmith on Getting it right from the start: Building a Winning Sporting Team from the ground up. I thought Wayne’s Step 7 and Patrick’s trinity would make a great foundation for any group planning to improve.

Patrick and Wayne have encouraged me to think about how you would front end the advocacy, training and transformation required to make the second wave a ripple rather than a perfect storm. A starting point for me will be a 2004 CISCO paper Using Sport Analogy in High-Tech Management to Improve Productivity by Improving Personal and Team Performance
written by K. Houshmand, S . Goli, R. Esmaili, and C . H .Pham.

Photo Credit

Surf Boat, Bude