Another sporting experiences applicable to organisational change


Traditionally the Australian cycling team has done well at the Olympic Games. However, in Rio in 2016 its performance was disappointing. This resulted in many staff changes (eg Simon Jones, new head coach) and a different approach.

Furthermore, their preparations have been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic postponing the Olympic Games for one year. The Australian Olympic cycling team is now preparing for the postponed Olympic Games (2021). Some of their recently-adopted strategies are listed below and have relevance to other organisations.

Jones regards himself as a conductor and his job to be 'watching, tweaking, iterating and improving' his cyclists' performances so that they are at their peak for the Games.
"...humans are designed to be in their comfort zone......they don't like change. But to remain at the top you always have to be evolving. Change, disruption, innovation - that is the core of what we need. If we don't have a problem, I will probably create one......we haven't changed what we are trying to achieve, but we have changed the way we achieve that..."
Simon Jones as quoted by Kieran Pender, 2020

"...there was resistance......change is hard, change is confrontational. But the definition of insanity is to repeat the same thing over and over while expecting different results..."
Kaarle McCulloch as quoted by Kieran Pender, 2020

Jones's philosophy has 3 core components

i) ruthlessly rational (need to think logically and do not let your decision making be impacted by emotions; as Olympic medals are their ROI, they need to develop an investment methodology based around winning medals, ie
"...we assess gold-medal opportunities and work backwards from there......we have a limited amount to spend, but like with any investment, we need to decide how to best spent it..."
Simon Jones as quoted by Kieran Pender, 2020

Funding is given on a short-term basis which can encourage a short-term mindset; yet the organisation needs to think long term)

ii) obsessive attention to detail (this includes planning with a focus on resilience and 'what ifs'; involves reflecting, learning and growing)

iii) prioritising performance psychology, ie mindset (mental performance is the best way to optimise their physical output; riders are now involved in decision-making to give them a clear direction and focus, ie
"...the victors will be those athletes that despite the adversity and despite the rapidly changing circumstances, have been able to maintain their optimal psychological state..."
Ruth Anderson as quoted by Kieran Pender, 2020

"...out of adversity or disruption comes opportunity - for those who are brave and courageous enough..."
Simon Jones as quoted by Kieran Pender, 2020


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