Mobilise the Set plays – the actions and behaviours that drive culture, change, outcomes and peak performance…

On Friday 19th January I was invited to speak to ABC radio Brisbane about firstly, being more successful than 2017, and then, how can the Brisbane team continue to build upon that success.

What a wonderful opportunity to be able to speak with all those who bring us the news, the sport, the local human interest stories – but most importantly, radio has the capacity to help sculpt the structure of our day as well as weave the emotional fabric which colours every moment of our day.

I was encouraged by conversations I had had with Acting Station Manager, Rob Mailer and his 2-IC, Halina Baczkowski Content Director – not only was there change afoot in terms of programming and teams that would lead these changes: but also management and the station recognized they need to think and operate differently too.

 

I provided my workbook, What’s your Everest – team for the whole group to consider what peak performance is and how to begin to set it in place for 2018.

We bunkered down in a first floor room of the State Library.

The day very much reminded me of my first meeting as Head Coach of the Australian Cricket team November 4th, in a small room at our team hotel, prior to the commencement of the 1999-2000 season.

 

It was a new season, new coach, new team with some old heads, some younger players and couple of debutants in Gilchrist and Muller.

The message was that we were going on a journey to Everest together and that by the time we had completed our journey together, our vision was to have changed the game, and possibly be accorded a label, in a similar way to the recognition of the feats of Don Bradman’s 1948 undefeated tour of England – THE INVINCIBLES.

 

So my first question to the gathered staff was what was the vision for ABC Brisbane Radio?

Vision, values and sacrificial acts form Base Camp for What’s your Everest – team.

The ABC organisation has as its vision to be the “independent source of Australian conversations, culture and stories” – but how is that translated for impact and meaning for Brisbane?

The ABC organisation has a series of Leadership principles with behaviours that demonstrate these principles. It also provides an ‘investing in audience strategy’ to help structure an overall approach to delivering the vision.

If ‘team ABC Brisbane radio’ had done their homework, then they would understand that getting Base Camp right inspires strategy, the Game Plan.

 

I was not disappointed as there were a number of questions.

Emma Griffiths wanted to know more about sacrificial acts.

Before I could explain, Kelly Higgins-Divine had already jumped in with some very good examples of how this works, or could work within the station.

We continued to explore the Everest model where the Game Plan mobilises the Set plays – the actions and behaviours that drive culture, change, outcomes and peak performance.

At this point, Steve Austin chimed in with a question about an interview he had done with me in 2002 when I was Australian Coach. He recalled asking me about having SK Warne read poetry – what was that all about?!

 

As I explained, one of my ‘set plays’ was always about challenging each individual to be better not only on the field; but also in less comfortable environments, taking them outside the security and familiarity of the dressing room.

With Set Plays in place, this gives the individual, leader or team the opportunity to ignite results and ultimately peak performance.

However to sustain peak performance, to dominate your market place as the Australian cricket team had done for some 8-10 years around the world, Brisbane Radio need to understand what is success.

 

Station manager, Rob Mailer was quick to acknowledge that if ABC Brisbane Radio is to change, then it needs other measures of success to complement those based on ratings, budgets, staff engagement and so on – what will these be…?

What Rob is wanting to do is not much different to what I was wanting to do with the Australian Cricket team in 1999.

He has a new opening combination leading the ABC Radio team in the morning. He has a changed top order, middle order and late order – all seeking to perform at their best from the first day of competition.

Rob and the team understand that they cannot hide from the traditional numbers that are used to judge success in the media.

Just like a head coach.

 

You need to win games to remain in the position, and not to feel constantly under siege by the various stakeholders who can make life difficult for the leader or coach.

Some early wins will be important for the Brisbane ABC radio to settle the reorganised team.

However, it is critical to understand the process of achieving results as these become the success measures that drive peak performance.

From my short time with all the people who attended on Friday, it seemed to me all the ingredients are there. Good and talented staff, a good culture which is open to change and constant improvement, and a leadership willing to change for success, not for the sake of making change.

They are beginning the climb to their “EVEREST”

 

As the saying goes, Stay tuned………

 

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Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull celebrated the re-election of Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce this week by saying they have the old team back together again.

However, just the week before there was little cause for celebration as Deputy Premier of New South Wales and National Party leader in that State, John Barilaro called for Malcolm Turnbull to step down from the role.

He believed Mr Turnbull was not the leader the NLP coalition needed nor the country required, to lead its members and voters into a better future.

This was like Shane Warne speaking publicly about the role of the coach being simply to get the team from point A to point B when he was a member of the Australian Cricket team. Although he did say at the time, his comments were taken out of context.

In the PM’s case, a member of the LNP team, somewhat more “obscure”, according to George Brandis, than Warnie was to the Australian cricket team and public, spoke to an eager media personality, Alan Jones about the need for change at the top.

While this incident is specific to the LNP, there are numerous like events over the past 12 months and longer that signal this type of occurrence is endemic in all political parties.

As a voter and taxpayer, I expect those who have been elected to run the country or the State or to lead their respective parties to deliver on promises, to live up to expectations, and operate like a peak performing team.

I do not see this from any side of politics and have not for some years now.

In my experience, a peak performing team will:

  • get results, and sustain these results over a long period of time
  • demonstrate strong leadership throughout the team
  • have leaders who stick to their values and principles which will put them at odds with people inside the team, and stakeholders out side the team
  • include game changers and match winners like a Shane Warne, but who, when stepping outside team boundaries, are quickly pulled into line by his peers and the agreed team standards
  • constantly seek to improve as individuals while collectively in pursuit of excellence

So in this current case of John Barilaro, the LNP if operating as a peak performance team would:

  1. Bring the PM, deputy PM, premier of NSW and relevant senior leaders of the LNP together to clearly understand:
    • Why the event occurred
    • How this issue should be handled internally now, and in the potential future
  1. Deliver a strong public message about what had happened, and what will be happening in the future
  2. John Barilaro to support this message and demonstrate his passion for his electorate, his State and country through his actions and behaviours

The Australian public simply want their parliamentary leaders to get on with doing their jobs to the best of their abilities. This means not being distracted by poor leadership and decision making to enable delivery of what Australians cherish about this country – security, health, jobs and the lifestyle that they support, climate, freedom, community pride, opportunity and mateships.

The two P’s, political parties and peak performance currently sit at either ends of a continuum.

We are looking to our leaders, especially our political leaders, to accelerate the alignment of the two P’s in order to provide this wonderful country, a future that is exciting and full of real prospects.

 

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It is a quick turnaround from the red ball Test format of the Gabba to the pink ball, the second form of Test cricket, in Adelaide.

If this is not a difficult task in itself, England’s plans for the series have been dealt a serious blow in Brisbane.

Add a touch of Bairstow bar-room humour using a headbutt rather than a handshake as a greeting card, and England have some head banging, or at least scratching to do before Day 1 at the SACA.

The obvious conclusions to draw from the 1st Test are –

  1. England’s game strategy of wearing down the three-pronged Australian attack so that runs could be plundered as the match wore on, were undone firstly by Lyon who took partnership breaking wickets at the right time.
  2. Secondly, by a timid batting display in the second innings, and especially by their tail
  3. Thirdly by Alastair Cook who is pivotal to the English game plan of subduing Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins such that they are physically spent by the time they reach Perth.
  4. The Smith factor has already shown that he will lead from the front with the bat, and control the game for as long as he remains at the crease
  5. The Smith-Cummins partnership brought the English 1st innings total to account, albeit at one time it seemed 50 to 100 runs short; then tantalisingly, looked like it may produce a lead of 50 to 100; to be finally shown to be inadequate
  6. This partnership highlighted the huge reliance England have on Anderson and Broad as Woakes, Ball and Ali could not produce enough consistency of spells to support the old opening pair.

To support these conclusions, I have included the analysis from Krishna Tunga: http://allthatcricket.com/496-gabba/

Draw your own conclusions from the numbers but look carefully at these sections which demonstrate the key differences between the teams, resulting in the thumping that England received in the First Test:

  • Role play
  • Scoring rates of the first 3 batting partnerships (and behind the data sits another telling statistic of balls faced per wicket lost by the top 6 batters in each team)
  • Bowlers spells, and bowling partnerships show the penetration achieved by Australia’s 4 bowlers compared with Root desperately searching beyond Anderson & Broad for breakthroughs

So the answer for them is simple – reverse all these points above to put themselves in a position to win the Second Test.

However, for them the key is not to go into any panic mode, or reactive selections, or change in game plans. Trevor Bayliss, the coach is smart enough to realise this.

It is whether he can convince the disbelievers, of which there will be a couple inside the English dressing rooms right now who have severe doubts of their individual and collective abilities to combat Australia.

England will also need to ride the luck that the change of conditions that the second form of Test cricket brings due to the pink ball, new biorhythms and night cricket.

If England go 2-0 down after Adelaide, the whitewash ghosts of 2006-07 and 2013-14 will haunt the English team – more than the occasional headbutt!

 

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WOMENS’ ASHES BURNING, WHILE THE MENS’ COMES ALIGHT?

The womens’ Ashes have burned, while the mens’ is about to come alight!

Contrasting styles, formats and controversies could best sum up the dual series.

The womens’ Ashes are being played on cricket grounds allowing spectators to enjoy the skills on offer viewing from grassy mounds and hills.

The game is almost played at a ‘pace’ that was the male version prior to the advent of ODI cricket.

This is in no way to disparage the contest between both women’s national teams of Australia and England. It is a comment that reflects upon the ‘good old days’ of cricket.

The games were played with uncomplicated skill. There was tough competition, but any ill-feeling between the teams (if it existed at all) was not seen or heard. The media attention was paid to the cricket and the players’ delivery of performance – not any side issues or controversies. And the spectatorship was relaxed, calm and enthused.

For a more detailed analysis of the women’s Ashes prior to the three T20 matches, take a look at http://allthatcricket.com/494-ashes-womens-test-cricket/

 

In stark contrast, the men’s Ashes have been set alight by the selection of the Australian team.

England have hardly been sighted or at least followed in their build-up – partly due to whom they have been playing and where; but mainly due to the microscope that has been placed on the Australian team, and those who have conjured up the starting XII, the selectors.

I have already posted my views about a selection panel being a relic of the past, so I will confine my commentary to what is, not what should be.

So to the real contrast between both Ashes campaigns…

 

PRODUCING PEAK PERFORMANCE: THE 4 C’s

My experience has shown me that to produce peak performance or at least, results which are trending to peak performance, then the 4 C’s are very important –

  • Consistency
  • Continuity
  • Combinations and
  • Communication
Consistency

This principle refers to consistency of message delivered through consistency of selection policy. For those who are selected into teams, then it is essential that they satisfy on the majority of counts that he or she meets key criteria of selection. More importantly, those that miss selection must clearly understand why they do not satisfy the selection criteria and what needs to be done to correct the specific criteria lacking.

 

Continuity

Wherever possible maintain continuity of athletes within a team or squad. In so doing, great rapport and team culture can be developed within the group. A team can move to maturity and self-regulation if there is not ‘turnstile selection’, players and staff coming and going. In teams where positions in the team are uncertain, most people protect themselves first, and team values are of little relevance. There is poor leadership culture as trust has been significantly diminished.

Since the South African series in November 2016, the Australian team has played 4 series, 12 Tests with 23 players, and now an additional 2 new faces at the beginning of this Ashes series. They lost 2 series, won one, drew one, with a Test win/loss record of 6/5.

In 11 series prior since Dec 2014, 34 Tests Australia used 24 players of which 6 retired; winning 5 series losing 2; and Test win/loss ratio of 12/6

Unless injury or retirement is forced upon the selection process, should any change to a team selection not indicate the selection process was wrong in the first place? Who carries the burden – player or selector or both?

 

Combinations

The longer people play together the more they understand each other’s game, and therefore the more help/coaching they can provide. Opening batsmen need a good combination to weather opening attacks through running between wickets, rotating strike for one another when a partner is having trouble, working as a pair to mentally combat the opposition. This can work throughout the order.

Other combinations that are critical are keeper to bowlers, and especially spin bowlers; 1st slip and keeper as well as slips cordon; fast bowling unit; and so on.

To keep interfering with combinations being established, reduces the effectiveness of team play and fosters individualism, poor team culture, and ultimately inconsistent to poor results.

 

Communication

If the selection policy is clear, then it can be easily communicated and understood by those within the group and outside the group. There are very few people that are ever unhappy about being selected. So where communication can play a significant role is to clearly communicate to those who are on the fringes of selection what they must do to give themselves best chances of selection. Equally, these communications must also be with coaches of the fringe dwellers so that they are aware of what is required.

Communication is often compromised by too many voices or channels that are part of the messages to be delivered. Reducing the clutter of people and noise, providing clearly understood criteria and sticking to policy all help the communication.

There will be on occasions, situations which fall outside the ‘guidelines’ such as the ‘cultural fit’ or the character of a person within the group; or the fast tracking of a person into or back into the team environment. These will be the occasional case and should be treated as such, and communicated accordingly.

However, like all forecasting and predictions the proof is in the eating.

 

HOW WILL AUSTRALIA WIN THE ASHES?

I think Australia will prove too strong on home soil for England.

England will rely on the savvy of Australian coach, Trevor Bayliss; a swinging ball new and old, delivered by Anderson with support acts Broad & Woakes; a top order that can deal with the menace of Australia’s quicks and the guile of Lyon to allow Joe Root and his well performed middle order of recent series, albeit lacking their most potent weapon Ben Stokes, to score the necessary amount of runs.

Australia on the other hand go into the series with the best pace attack assembled for many years – brilliantly supported by one of the world’s best spinners in Nathan Lyon. However, the Achilles heal to this strategy is that the quicks need rest throughout games and over the extent of the series. There is no allrounder like Shane Watson to shoulder 10-15 overs a game or an innings due to quality of players available, and the worry Australia has with its top and middle order batting. If Warner, Bancroft, Khawaja can combat the swinging ball effectively, then Australia’s batting should thrive and allow Australia to take the Ashes comfortably.

 

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Rekindle’s success on Tuesday 7th November was not just a success for all the parties that had something to do with the historic win, but it was also a celebration of how an event, something special in the Australian calendar, can bring most people of the nation together.

On Saturday at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we were again brought to a literal standstill as we remembered those who died for this country in World War 1, and who have in previous and subsequent wars, given their lives to protect ours.

These events in our nation’s history speak to different human emotions – one of joy, one of horrific tragedy.

But both speak to similar outcomes where most Australians come together in a collaborative, supportive manner, connecting and communicating closely.

 

Such collaborative behaviour seems uncommon these days in a world that on the one hand appears to be increasingly connected through the technologies of Facebook, Google and IoT. On the other hand, people are becoming more disconnected, isolated in their own communities due to the increasingly uneven distribution of wealth; through the activities of political and religious extremists; and through the busy-ness of everyday life which demands more self-attention than loving thy neighbour.

Even in the “do-good” organisations such as not-for-profits and charities, these groups seem more intent on building separate bureaucracies rather than collaborate with others formed on similar missions and goals. Look at the number of organisations which are all trying to help find and fund ways to support people with cancer and their immediate families.

My work over the last couple of weeks with Boggabri Coal, Queensland Public Service Commission, Glencore, Moreton Bay Regional Development Association, and Victorian Leaders have in their different ways concerned themselves with how to nurture, develop and grow more collaboration between people and agencies, as well as collaborative work practices.

 

Respected demographer Bernard Salt recently made the case for coming up with a sexy new moniker or brand for South-East Queensland and unifying all the “fiefdoms” that comprise the region into a more powerful collaborative aggregate. While each region or LGA would retain its current identity, eg Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Darling Downs, etc, they would all sit under the umbrella brand, much the same as Silicon Valley does for its constituents.

Silicon Valley is a nickname for the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay area. The “valley” in its name refers to the Santa Clara Valley in Santa Clara County, which includes the city of San Jose and surrounding cities and towns (Palo Alto, Cupertino, Santa Clara, Saratoga and others) where the region has been traditionally centered. The region has expanded to include the southern half of the peninsula of San Mateo County, and southern portions of the East Bay in Almeda County.

 

In the world of sport this makes complete sense too.

While there are superstars that make up the engines of successful teams; or the coaches who conduct the vision, the game plans, and the game day plays, those that are the most successful, that endure over time, and that are recognised as examples of peak performance, are those where the energies, the skills, the minds, the brands are harnessed into one collaborative unit.

 

So take time to reflect on your week.

Look at the signals that are all around us, every day, about collaboration verses ‘going it alone’.

How do you want to live your life?

What do you want for your neighbourhood, your community, your country?

Rekindle the actions and behaviours that lead to a collaborative future environment.

Your choice…

 

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Indian cricket analyst Krishna Tunga, http://allthatcricket.com/ looks at the numbers and believes Australia has lost its way in ODI cricket.

Here are his reasons based on the numbers:

Since winning the World Cup 2015, Australia have lacked any consistency. He points to a slightly better than 50% winning record 50 ODIs 25 wins.

What are some of the reasons behind these results which are lower than the previous periods –

  • post WC2011 to WC 2015 – ODI  wins (59.78%)
  • post WC 2007 to WC 2011 – ODI wins (63.55%)
  • post WC 2003 to WC 2007 – ODI  wins (72.80%)
  • post WC 1999 to WC 2003 – ODI  wins (69.72%)
  1. Player turnover:

Selectors have been relentless in turning over players – some churn can be helpful, but too much can destabilise a team

  • 35 players represented Australia since 2015
  • 15 debuted which is second only to lowly ranked Sri Lanka(21)
  • the playing XI hardly remained same .with the number. of injured and rested players, far less than dropped players.
  1. Batting weakness:
  • Higher % of batters dismissed inside 3 overs compared with any other period of ODI cricket – 26.40%
  1. Bowling weakness:
  • Under Steve Smith’s captaincy bowling has been the worst since WC 2015 compared with other Aussie captains and current ones of other nations
  • A couple of key indicators are, taking 25 games as min qualification for Australian captain since 1998 –

 

 

Recent ODI’s in India – some key performance indicators of results.

We will review these numbers and this tournament prior to the ODI series in Australia.

PEAK PERFORMANCE COACHING

 

Do the numbers lie?

Or is this trend changing for Australia?

Will such results have some bearing on the upcoming Ashes?

And how does the Australian women’s team compare, given their tussle for the Ashes series begins in October?

These are some of the questions that Krishna Tunga and I will answer over the coming months in our regular blog.

We look forward to your views and thoughts as the summer of cricket unfolds in Australia.

 

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