Why England Rugby may have found their ideal coach

February 29, 2016

Eddie JonesEddie Jones could be the ideal coach for England, according to one theory of leadership. But a Clive Woodward he ain’t

In the words of Monty Python, England rugby needed something completely different, after its nightmare of a World Cup last year. The selectors reacted by sacking the rather school-masterly Stuart Lancaster, and replaceinghim with the pit bull terrier that is Eddie Jones, and mastermind of Japan’s World Cup heroics.

Leaders Member Exchange theory

I base my case on a theory of leadership known as Leader Member Exchange or LMX. It is not as fashionable as charismatic leadership, which anyway is revealing its dark side in the US Primaries at present. But LMX has been subjected to a fair level of academic scrutiny.

LMX and Eddie

The classic paper on LMX by George Graen and Mary Uhl-Bien is now twenty years old. However, it has withstood the test of time and is still a good starting place for anyone wanting to make a serious study of leadership.

An update can be found in Dilemmas of Leadership (2015) and in The Sage Handbook of Leadership.

The key point about LMX is that a leader’s impact becomes clearer if you can tease our characteristics of the relationships between leaders and followers. This requires understanding of various levels of interaction including ‘one on one’ and ‘one on group’ levels. After twenty years, there is still a lot to go at.

[Incidentally, in re-reading the Graen and Uhl-Bien paper I found a sophisticated treatment of ‘leadership making’ as followers contribute to the ‘making’ of’ a leader, the rationale for Leaders We Deserve.]

In this post, I borrow just a few ideas from LMX to comment on Eddie Jones the coach as leader, and his impact on individuals and the England team performance. I make no attempt to test the validity of LMX theory.

Effective leadership resides in developing mature trust-based relationships between leader (in this case Jones) and followers (the squad). I mention the squad not the team. There have been examples of disastrous and immature relationships between the elite first-pick team and the mid week team, for example, on Lions tours. The trust placed in the leader from the first team (the in-group) is rnot found among members idesignated as reserves unless the social identity of the players is handled sensitively.

The theory has contributed to thinking about how in-groups and out-groups form. Jones has to deal with that, as does any other coach. The tricky problems of trust development are believed to be important. In football, the terminology for trust breakdown is ‘losing the dressing room’. A simple specific example was the situation (dilemma) facing Jones’ predecessor Stuart Lancaster over the selection of the son of one of his coaching staff.

Everyone hates us …

We are getting some clear messages from Jones about his beliefs, and those he would like to instill into his players. They have included the old in-group and out-group motif. He insists that England is hated by the other five nations and the team has to deal with that.

The selection of the tempestuous Dylan Hartley as captain is consistent with the combative style Jones seeems to be aiming for.

When questioned about targeting Ireland’s gifted but injury prone Sexton of Ireland, this week, Jones said he expected to play to any weakness in an opponent.

It is a kind of ‘nobody loves us but we don’t care’ style.

Gentlemanly values, ungentlemanly conduct

Whereas Mourinho’s football teams were as tough as any, The Special One preferred to pretend they always were superior players dealing with the unjustified assaults of inferior opponents.

In the past, England’s rugby coaches have been English and tended to approve of gentlemanly conduct. The taste for muscularity was still there, revealed in the fondness for a preference for selecting for forward dominance, and use of a vocabulary in which massive was the adjective of choice for general performance and physicality.

Clive Woodward, coaoch of England’s world cup victory had his favoured enforcers, but would rarely celebrate violence openly.
Somewhere between the two extremes of concealed and overt encouragement of in-play mayhem was the approach of the great coach Caewyn James who years ago urged his Welsh team to get their retaliation in first.

Expectations are high in England

Early days. Will Eddie Jones lift England to their expectations of competing with the Southern Hemisphere teams? He has one advantage. The current squad has potential to do better than they have been doing.

Maybe, like Trump on the stump, he is giving voice to an approach his players already approve of.

It may all end in tears. But there is a great potential waiting to be unlocked in the current England squad. And Jones may be just the man with the key to unlock it.

If I have read LMX theory accurately, the challenge will come as the squad develops, and different relationships are called for between a coach, his captain (or her) and players.

[drafted before the England Ireland match , Feb 26 2016]

 


The Pros and Cons of self publishing

February 24, 2016
 Tennis Matters Blue

A year or so ago I started to think seriously about self publishing.  Since then I have had a chance to compare a text book published traditionally with three self published monographs and others in various stages of planning

First, let it be said, I publish primarily as a way of getting my ideas out there.  That has been the case since I wrote by first business book with the knock you down title Problem Solving through Creative  Analysis in 1973.  PSTCA was published by Gower Press. I think I chose Gower because a young colleague from Manchester Business School had joined them as I was completing a first draft. The book outlined work I had done on  ‘structures that destructure’, i.e. techniques for stimulating creativity.

Later I worked with with various publishers with whom I have shared a mostly amicable relationship. These include the collaboration with my current publisher Routledge, now part of the global Taylor and Francis group, who commissioned  my most recently published text Dilemmas of Leadership 3rd edition.

Money matters, but not like you might think

There is plenty of advice around about making a lot of money out of publishing. I am not able to offer such advice.  I doubt I have ever made more that 10% of my annual income directly from writing. On the other hand, a later version of PSTCA (mentioned above) was read by someone who became a dear friend and who brought me in to his company as an external trainer and  thus kept me in a slightly better class of  car for several years. His friendship was far more than an added bonus.

Intrinsic motivation
Anyway, I am a firm believer in the principle of intrinsic motivation.  You work best if you are primarily in love with what you are doing, rather than for the money it promises. Big earners only notice money if they feel a competitor is judged better because he or she earns more. It is an ego before bank balance thing.

On to the Pros and Cons

If you have are offered a contract from an established  publisher, cherish it.  The big plus is that the final product will benefit from a range of professional inputs from copy editors, proof readers, marketing, pricing and PR experts. Rare is the author with all these skills.

There are two major downsides to weigh against the benefits of the pampering with an experienced publisher behind you.  Traditional publishing is increasingly vulnerable to market forces reducing profits from ‘dead tree’ products. Your contract will reflect that.  The other issue is time to market.  Things are speeding up, but there is a long way to go before even the most successful of traditional publishers will be able to set up their own route-to- market to compete with with the lean mean electronic self-publishing route.

Self publishing is in contrast rapid, and has lower entry barriers (business school speak, but self evident), and thus  more open to anyone to give it a try.  The self-publishing author is able to produce print and e versions relatively easily. I use Amazon’s Create Space services which is a safe choice for the inexperienced author.

Frontloading and deep diving

A lot of tacit knowledge about being an author acquired through writing  twenty non-fiction texts, still left me wirth a lot of gaps in the skill set needed for self publishing.  One particular experience was the commitment to the discipline of writing regularly. Another was accepting that a great deal of redrafting is necessary.  Finally, pre-planning (‘frontloading’ ) before diving in to writing, is just as important.

I have already hinted at the down side of self-publishing.  You risk the vulnerability of the lone author.  You have to decide how to compensate for the other non-writing skills.

Search widely, invest wisely

I am now moving on to assessing the best investment for buying in some of those skills. A good example is designing a cover (which you need, incidentally, even for e books). Shop around, as they say about consumer decision making.

I kept reading about the advantages of going it alone  For me, this is not the best mind-set.  You should never go it alone, you need all the help you can get. The bigger question is which services should you pay for, and when. I decided to make my mistakes on a small scale, preparing to invest more when I am further up that learning curve.

My first self published books

My first self published books in  the period 2014-2016  followed the principle of getting ideas out to a wider audience.  I wanted to explore the nature of creativity and leadership in a new format.My first effort, The Manchester Method (e book only) was by way of a trial. I made my mistakes on a small scale.  The ‘final’ e-version still has the look of a book completed before the author discovered how to use advanced design options.

I followed this up with Tennis Matters  which I found easier to produce, having edged further up the design mountain.  I also found delight in making multiple revisions of the ‘final’ version, discovering that the self -imposed deadline was worth breaking at the cost of a few extra days to market.  That’s another advantage of self -publishing.

Other discoveries

Making a decent looking index is tricky but not impossible. I used Microsoft Word. I also found  that at my level of (in)experience, mini books were best for making minor changes.

Just this week, I received copies of Mourinho Matters. This had been the third self-published book since I started the project approximately eighteen months ago.  It is my most ambitious in length (just over 200 pages) and I am still going up that lengthy learning curve in producing print and e books.

Mourinho Matters

In hindsight

In hindsight, I just thought of another advantage. I selected topics I wanted to write about, and which were close to my interest and skills core. And I had a large number of researched and tagged research items available (including the thousand Leaders We Deserve posts) to draw on.


Replacing Scalia: How The Supreme Court Influences Presidential Elections

February 18, 2016

The death of the influential conservative Antonin Scalia opens up another front in the upcoming Presidential campaign.

 The most vital constitutional decisions in the USA are eventually settled by the nine mighty figures of the Supreme Court of the United States, nattily known as SCOTUS

Structurally, the system of voting is open to a simplistic liberal versus conservative 4-5 split. This makes for highly politicized appointments via the President but with congressional tactics to delay an appointment, an important example of the lame duck theory of a President in his last term of office.(POTUS trying to get the SCOTUS he wants).

This is where we seem to be at the moment

 Informed opinions among political commentators are evaluating the process according to game theory. Something like

Obama selects a highly qualified candidate of liberal tendencies. This will swing 4-5 decisions to liberal outcomes.  One of the front runners is the high powered Loretta Lynch, attorney general and heroine of the moves that brought justice down on the first group  of FIFA reprobates.

Republicans filibuster any appointment, offering a politically useful edge to the Democratic candidate in the upcoming Presidential race.  This seems a rare example of a win-win for Obama, because his nominee to SCOTUS will be one that could pull in ethnic votes crucial in a close race.

Dysfunctional politics

  This offers much scope for further dysfunctional politics in a system already prone to inept reactions and self-induced crises. Arguably, such behaviors have accelerated the further decline in confidence in mainline political figures and the rise of the non-political candidates such asTrump.

Bad, but not as  totally flawed as you might think. One analysis suggests that the court is not a simplistic algorithmic mechanism churning out decisions on party lines. That does happen but only in a minority of cases considered.

Unfortunately, these are often of the highest significance

The Bush Gore case is one such example. In the presidential election of 2000, victory was too close to call, and eventually came down to the highly-charged accusations over voting practices in Florida. As multiple recounts and law suits began, SCOTUS felt compelled to step in and voted to end further recounts, a decision handing the Presidency to Bush. The voting 5-4 was along the dreaded party lines.

 Get over it, the gleeful Scalia remarked afterwards.

 

 

 


Independent Judgement. I will miss you greatly

February 15, 2016

Obituary for a dear friend

Indy Paris RotatedThere was an inevitability about the passing of the print version of The Independent. I will miss a quirky friend who made morning coffee the more enjoyable for several decades.

My not particularly guilty secret. I became addicted to the print version of the Independent for a bundle of reasons. Now I have a tough decision. What will take its place in my affections?

But that decision is for the future. Now is time to recall the best of friends, brilliant, contrarian, instinctively liberal.

The Indy was not always reliable. It could never be guaranteed to turn up as regularly as I could have liked. In the three Newsagents closest to me, one always ordered a reasonable supply. One gave up stocking the paper a few years ago, and the third resolutely refused to double its numbers of copies, meaning that at times I was thwarted by someone else with a minority taste in the news they preferred, and the way in which it was presented.

A cause a day

Then there was a period a few years ago when every day was time for a new cause waged against a national or global injustice, until I felt slightly desensitized in my enthusiasm for for the ‘Cause of the day’.

Looking back

The Indy was born as a reaction against the last big disruption to the print media.

In the UK. Rupert Murdoch was successfully breaking the hold of the old print Unions. A handful of journalists opposing the Murdoch dominance formed The Independent.

The project was always fighting the economics of a declining market recognized so shrewdly by Murdoch whose Empire had the financial muscle to run promotional campaigns that further weakened its competitors. The Independent would have gone under far earlier if it had not been bought in 2010 for nonfinancial reasons for £1 by Evgeny Lebedev who has bankrolled it since to the tune of £60m

Its innovations included messy changes to a tabloid size, and occasional excessive exuberance in design ideas that never quite lined up with user appeal.

Now creative destruction will hit a fair number of the staff, even some among a talented bunch of journalists.

Chess

One of the reasons I stuck with the full rather than the little Independent.

The chess column shows tireless interest in the game by Grandmaster Jonathan Speelman. Maybe the e-paper will give him a nice new platform for his daily offering.

Obituaries

Its obituaries by Meic Stephens gave me a link with my school days. Thanks to Meic I was not even the best poet in the village. Don’t know if he will get a chance to write an obituary or a poem in memory of the print Indy.

Not just a Viewspaper…

Viewpaper accusations by Tony Blair were taken on board unashamedly, as the Independent ironically admitted the importance of opinion pieces. Mr Tony was uncomfortable about the paper’s uncompromising stance over Iraq, and several other of his policy decisions.

Great journalism

I’m among the readers who dote on Mark Steel’s brand of satirical commentaries., Robert Fisk’s foreign affairs polemics, and Rupert Cornwall’s effortless demonstrations of his deep insights into politics to match those of his step brother David, aka John le Carre.

What next?

Do I seek out a new morning partner to gaze at over my coffee? These are early days after a heart wrenching loss.

 

 


How the Queen’s speech helped me start and finish a book

February 12, 2016

windsor-fire

Most writers find starting and finishing a book difficult, although the bit in the middle can be quite difficult as well. I recently had some advice from HRH Queen Elizabeth II

When Mourinho Matters was published in February 2016 I acknowledged the help I received from the Queen. This post explains how the Monarch helped one of her loyal subjects in Woodford, in middle England.

Me and Mourinho

Some years ago, I reached the conclusion that Jose Mourinho was a fascinating example of a charismatic leader. I began collecting information, and posting stories about him in LWD. His multiple triumphs were recorded from the time he burst on to the scene as a young manager winning the European Champions Cup with unfashionable Porto.

A career changing event

Last November [2015] I could see that Jose’s second period at Chelsea manager was drawing to a humiliating close.

Writer’s blocked

I re-opened my files on The Special One, as materials for a book. The title was easy enough, Mourinho Matters, suggested by an earlier title, Tennis Matters. No, I can’t remember where that idea came from either.

The material for the new book came in thick and fast. But I needed a nice way of starting and ending it. Nothing quite worked. I was well and truly blocked. I just had to wait for an idea to arrive.

Then I  heard the 2015 Christmas message from the Queen. Her calm measured delivery concealed a powerful emotional content of hope. Never one to miss content, I added a note on the speech to the Mourinho file.

The Queen’s speech

An ‘aha’ moment came as I recalled another speech made, and the Queen’s reference in it to a time of personal grief, which ended in a great fire at Windsor Castle. In a very elegant way, she mentioned her own very painful annus horribilis. The time of dread.

That was an allusion to the poem written four centuries earlier by the poet John Dryden. He was writing about a great fire that had gutted London in devastating fashion. Dryden did not refer to the annus horribilis, but to the time of recovery, the annus mirabilis. the year of miracles. Maybe he figured that folk had had enough suffering without him adding fuel to the fire of memories, so to speak.

I had found my starting and finishing points. Jose’s professional career in my book starts with a section called his annus mirabilis. And give or take a few appended materials, it draws to an end with one called his annus horribilis, as a helicopter hovers over Chelsea’s training premises, hoping for a sighting of the newly-fired Mourino.

Down but not out

The quotes also helped me to realize that Jose was down but not out. As that other superhero played by Arnie Swartzenenger in The Terminator put it:

‘I’ll be back’.

 


The Divestment of Openreach from BT is not a simple case

February 8, 2016

It would perhaps be easy to jump on the band wagon and champion the case for freeing Openreach from its parent BT, which according to the press is a given. But in fairness, both Openreach and BT deserve credit in areas

BT is a truly world class business. It is a leader. It has delivered (mostly) on its promise to provide the UK with its Information Super Highway. But yet more change and progress is sought after.

Better apart?

The proposal to divest Openreach from BT may bring more challenges than we have today opposite speed of change and progress. More complexity. More governance and regularity issues. Investment may actually stall rather than speed up. There are no guarantees that Openreach and BT will perform better independently, or indeed that others (business customers, partners, consumers) will benefit from a split.

Openreach is already functionally separate within BT. The challenge is whether Openreach operates in the spirit of openness, or whether it favours the agenda of its parent. Would an independent Openreach really deliver improved competition or speed up investment? Would the perceived rate of change and progress – the perception of more innovation actually be delivered delivered if Openreach were no longer ‘restricted’ by BT’s agenda, governance and control? Both BT and Openreach’s customer service are questionable, but where would the real alternative appear from?

I know some {LWD subscribers] who believe that BT does trade on its monopolistic position. Ordinarily most would condemn the incumbent as the bullying type leveraging their position for self-interest. Perhaps part of this argument is true. Listening to a BT video link, I note that the speaker does acknowledge that the competition [Sky, talk talk, Vodafone?] consider the BT Openreach relationship as unfair.  Perhaps this is natural position for them to take. Of course they would. They are the competition after all.

Depending on an individual’s perspective

Depending on an individual’s perspective, BT are cumbersome, inefficient, and an abuser of their monopoly position. Or perhaps they could be seen as actually being efficient, well run, and a true global leader in a competitive market place.

IF the UK is to continue to benefit from the technology infrastructure that Openreach has built and delivers to us, then perhaps one of the most important questions Openreach needs to ask itself is whether it is investing enough cash fast enough to align to customer demands and expectations.

I believe BT does recognise and acknowledge the challenge. In the video, the speaker states that customer demands are very high. The customer asks that Super-fast broadband is always available, from anywhere, from any device. Realistic expectations? Or difficult expectations to deliver?

How quickly can BT deliver the services that the customer and the market place are demanding. Are BT and Openreach driving change and progress quicklyy enough? Maybe not, but the problem is tempered and made more complex by the fact that BT is a commercial organisation and no longer a nationalised industry. Therefore, it is right to treat each major investment decision with the correct level of due diligence and moderation before overcommitting spend and investment to services that may not be commercially viable in the short term.

Major Investment is still needed

That said, it is still of question when, not if the investment is needed. The speaker in the video talks about maximising the use of the existing infrastructure using innovative technology to deliver high speed broadband without replacing with expensive fiber. This sounds like an equitable and sensible compromise.

Fiber based superfast broadband for all may well be the next major step, and an end goal – but we need to be sensible with expectations around timescales. Some of that investment and infrastructure has already been made and is available to some lucky users. For others perhaps in rural areas, they need to wait. These are the folk most likely to argue BT needs to do more, and faster too.

With faster greater bandwidth comes downstream opportunities for all. The popularity of new services would grow faster than at current rates – for example: the move towards On-Demand content could happen quicker. Cloud is now a mega-trend. I remain convinced Cloud computing will be seen as a separate computing paradigm. Openreach and BT do deliver the services that underpin downstream Cloud provision.

BT is adapting too

We can also flip the argument around. BT themselves are now delivering content and challenging Sky with BT Sports. I do believe that TV as we have known it will continue to change and be disrupted. Openreach are in some ways influencing and controlling the rate of change because of the overall dependency on bandwidth and superfast broadband.

I’m sure there will be a shift towards faster lines and that eventually the demand will be there to justify the investment and provide the requisite return on investment. Eventually it’s just a case of getting the business model right.

Conclusions

I suppose my concluding thoughts are that investment represents a double-edged sword for Openreach. There is no guarantee that consumers or big business will take-up new more expensive services with immediate effect. This is very much a generic business statement though. No investment comes with guarantees. It’s about understanding the risk versus the reward.

Greater speeds and more bandwidth are nice to have, but in our cost conscious world I too often hear the phrase ‘is the provision “good enough”– often the reality is yes. What we have today is good enough and meets our needs.

So there is a dilemma here. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Greater, faster investment from Openreach against the commercial reality and ‘guarantee’ of customer demand for new products.

If Openreach is split off from BT, and starts to either compete with rivals, or offer technologies that align with specific customer/partner needs then really we may just have new different challenges around agreed technology standards and regulation. These are the same issues that exist today, perhaps just in more complex forms.


Brexit and the impossibility of independence

February 4, 2016
I know why the caged bird singsIn the run up the the referendum over EU membership I  am coming across a large numbers of remarks about independence.  It can be a great and noble aspiration.  It can also be used as an alternative for thinking more deeply about an issue. Starting with ‘what is independence?’
This thought occurred to me as I digested my morning portion of tweets washed down with some low fat cynicism.

Today’s tweets covered a lot of territory.  Brexit was one preoccupation in England and Scotland. There is a certain amount of tangled logic about voting for independence from ‘Europe’ (the EC) and winning it for Scotland.  Several countries are celebrating or remembering their Independence Day.  A brewer brags about its independence from the chemical giants.  There are a few cries of a shackled youth for ‘ a bit of independence’.

Click here for tweet 1

Click here for tweet 2

Click here for tweet 3

Click here for tweet 4

Click here for tweet 5

Click here for tweet 6

Click here for tweet 7

Click here for tweet 8

Click here for tweet 9

Click here for tweet 10

For me, each of these tweets could be the starting point to deeper thinking about what the tweeter means by independence.

If these are not enough to suggest independence comes at a cost, here’s another regarding David Cameron’s attempts to negotiate for reform of the EC in advance of the referendum.

Those believing that a Brexit will regain control misunderstand there is no escape from shared control on international issues. Furthermore, negotiation is discussed in a totally zero sum way. That is not the only game (theory) around.

Three steps on the road to freedom

The three steps towards a better future may be seen as

dependence ‘you control me’

independence ‘I control me’

inter-dependence ‘we share control for mutual benefits’