Eddie Jones and why leaders over-reach

March 15, 2018

Eddie Jones

A video of England rugby coach Eddie Jones addressing a group of sponsors has reached the public. It makes an interesting case of a successful leader setting himself up to fail.

 

Background

The video was recorded several months ago. Eddie Jones is currently the coach of the England (male) rugby team. His appointment in 2015 was controversial. The premier national teams of the northern hemisphere have increasingly selected from coaches the most successful rugby nations. In practice this means coaches from New Zealand and the other Southern Hemisphere countries Australia and South Africa.

After a period of relative under-performing, England chose Eddie Jones, a colourful character of Australian, Japanese and American origins.
Jones played rugby to state level in Australia.. He then embarked on a coaching career mostly with spectacular successes, but not without the occasional setback. As coach of Australia he stared well but a series of successive losses ended his contract. His last loss was to Wales, a point which may have some further relevance.

He achieved success again as national coach to Japan. In rugby-playing terms, Japan is a minor nation. It also lacks an adequate supply of monstrous players in a game which has evolved to require high bulk and mobility. His style is a passionate one, invoking pride in his teams of national and cultural values. Rather than import hefty Samoans, he introduced a fearless flyweight style of play which brought shock wins and delighted spectators during the World Cup of 2015.
This track record, and Japan’s showing resulted in his appointment as England coach.

His initial impact was spectacular, and the team began to show potential to become a serious challenger for the next world cup. At the time of the video Jones could point to a remarkable turnaround of fortunes in results. His leadership impact was clearly a significant factor.
A run of twenty three matches was ended by a firy Irish team, which was also progressing well including a win over the near invincible New Zealand All Blacks.
In this summary I draw attention to the loss to Wales which coincided with Jones losing his Australian post, and then to the recent loss to Ireland which ended his winning streak.

The video

In the video, Jones is heard lauding his own success in converting Japan into an exciting new force in world rugby. He then turns to the defeat by Ireland.

“We’ve played 23 Tests and we’ve only lost one Test to the scummy Irish,” he told his audience. “I’m still dirty about that game, but we’ll get that back, don’t worry. We’ve got them next year at home so don’t worry, we’ll get that back.”

Jones was also recorded discussing Wales in the context of Japan Under‑20s losing 125-0 against their Welsh counterparts shortly after he took over as the Japan head coach in 2012. “Wales. Who knows Wales? Are there any Welsh people here? So it’s this little shit place that has got three million people. Three million!”

Dilemmas of leadership
Another dilemma of leadership. When a leader starts believing his or herself-constructed story. It has contributed to the aura around the leader. Some might call it the evidence of charisma. The leader flushed with success, acts out the self-image in terms which become dismissed as bluster or dismissive of others.

Remind you of any other leader?

Do these words remind you of another leader, often in the news for his provocative statements?

“I’m still dirty about that game, but we’ll get that back, don’t worry. We’ve got them next year at home so don’t worry, we’ll get that back.”

If so, what more general conclusions can we draw from the case of Eddie Jones? And is it coincidence that his team plays that “scummy team Ireland” this weekend, a team which has already won the six-nations championship from England this year, regardless of the result?


BT Openreach franchise to end

November 30, 2016

Discworld Gods Wikipedia

After a lengthy period of negotiations over the structure of Openreach, the Government Communications watchdog OfCom has lost patience with BT, and proposes the establishment of an independent company

LWD has followed this story in earlier posts which examined the case for and against such a move. [See Is it Openreach or overreach? and The divestment of Openreach is not a simple case ]

The Plans

This week the Government announced its plans to deal with what it sees as a failure by BT to address its concerns regarding OpenReach. According to Reuters:

Britain’s telecoms regulator will go to the European Commission to try to force BT to legally separate Openreach, the division that supplies broadband to millions of homes and businesses, in a major reform aimed at spurring investment in the country’s ageing network.

The regulator, which despite Britain’s vote to leave the European Union still needs European Commission support to force through change at Openreach, wants BT Openreach to plough more money into upgrading its copper networks to fibre to catch up some European rivals and the likes of South Korea and Japan.

Ofcom’s decision to up the ante follows the failure to reach a voluntary deal after more than a year of talks. It said it was “disappointed” that BT had not done enough to separate Openreach from the rest of the group. It had ordered the former state monopoly to run the network arm as a legally separate company in July [2016].

The Independent suggests that the announcement is only the start of what might be an extended commercial battle. BT rivals Sky and Talk Talk may make some gains, but BT still retains powerful influence through its monopolistic ownership of the landline monopoly in the UK.

In the dispute, BT has not exactly argued their case convincingly. Their CEO in one radio interview was emphatic about the success of their efforts at upgrading broadband services, and dismissed alternatives as too small. The regulator thinks differently.

Amongst the ironies, is the prospect of the EU passing judgement to permit an improvement in an important advanced-technology industry sector in the soon-to-be departing UK after its Brexit vote is converted into a full EU exit.


Diana Gould, Mrs Thatcher and the sinking of the Belgrado

April 9, 2013


The life and achievements of Mrs Thatcher are being re-examined in the minutest detail. One piece of unfinished business is the ultimate fate of the Falkland Islands over which she went into battle

News of the death of Margaret Thatcher [8th April 2013] confirmed her iconic status, and the aptness of the title of the recent film about her The Iron Lady. The posthumous comments of those who knew her brought back my own fragmented memories. These include her substantial political achievements from humble origins; her wresting of power to become a formidable global figure noted for her robustness and straight speaking; her contribution addressing economic weaknesses (‘the British disease’) at home, her tireless efforts fighting to retain the status of her country abroad, and her deep suspicions over Europe’s regional direction of change.

A leader for our times?

Even today, I find my executive students mostly admiring of her no-nonsense confrontational leadership style. Admiration seems to grow, the further you go from the UK. Japan, China [with muted reservations in Hong Kong], India, and The United States would provide examples of different cultures recognizing her unique leadership characteristics.

“Where there is discord…”

Her first speech as Prime Minister on the steps of Downing Street has been replayed many times in the last twenty four hours. It was allowed to speak for itself. Her choice of quotation from St Francis seemed as inappropriate from her as it might have been appropriate from the New Pope: “Where there is discord let there be harmony…” For me, the speech captures a shadow-side of Mrs Thatcher and her mask of command, and an insensitivity to the ironic. At her death she remained a deeply divisive figure in the UK.

Missing in dispatches

In nearly one thousand posts mostly on leadership issues, I have hardly written about Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. From time to time I collected notes intending to assemble them into a broader examination. Here is one from an article in The Independent

It was 1983 and the run-up to the general election. In the Nationwide studio at BBC TV Centre, Sue Lawley was hosting a live phone-in with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was confidently looking forward to a second term of office for the Conservatives.

Then Diana Gould, a 58-year-old geography teacher from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, came on the air. Her disembodied voice asked: “Mrs Thatcher, why, when the Belgrano, the Argentinian battleship, was outside the exclusion zone and actually sailing away from the Falklands, why did you give the orders to sink it?”

Thatcher replied: “But it was not sailing away from the Falklands. It was in an area which was a danger to our ships.”

Revealing a geography teacher’s precision, Gould persisted. “It was on a bearing of 280 and it was already west of the Falklands, so I cannot see how you can say it was not sailing away from the Falklands.

“When it was sunk,” said Thatcher, “It was a danger to our ships.”

“No,” said Gould firmly, “You just said at the beginning of your answer that it was not sailing away from the Falklands, and I am asking you to correct that statement.”

Rattled, Thatcher blustered about the exclusion zone, but Gould came back with the “north of West” bearing and would not let it drop until Gould was faded out. She became an overnight heroine: the woman who stood up to Thatcher, virtually accusing her of a war crime.

Thatcher was furious, and relations between government and the BBC were soured through the 1980s.


The Dreamliner Dream Turns Sour. What are the Implications for the Global Air Travel Industry?

February 11, 2013

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

by Pikay Richardson and Tudor Rickards

On Friday January 18th all Boeing 787s were grounded by the Federal Aviation Authority of the United States, after an emergency landing in Japan had intensified the security and safety concerns of the aircraft. Shares in Boeing took a dive.

The Big Dream Turns Sour

This was a serious blow to the company following earlier problems to the Dreamliner, including, a fire, a battery explosion and a fuel leak. Aviation agencies around the world followed suit and grounded all other 787s. For All Nippon Airways, the airline with the biggest Dreamliner fleet, the brake problem was the third hitch in as many days. Shares dropped by more than 3% after the ban.

The troubles for the Dreamliner began in November 2010, when a fire broke out in an avionics bay during a test flight and forced an emergency landing. By this time, the plane had already had a three-year delay in its delivery deadline, which led to increased costs, order cancellations and much concern in the airline industry. Some airlines that had staked their future operations on the Dreamliner.

Boeing’s reputation is also on the line. The Dreamliner project had generated a great amount of hype for its claims of quality, innovativeness and fuel efficiency. Indeed, the Dreamliner had been touted as the great new business hope for Boeing and for its commercial airline customers. Boeing drew attention to the Dreamliner’s high-tech composite fibre body, which reduces weight and thereby improves fuel efficiency significantly. In commercial aviation, fuel costs constitute a substantial proportion of total costs and any weight-reducing innovation drops straight to the bottom line.

New order books were high, topping 848, with 50 delivered and in service, clocking about 100 flights per day by December 2012. In the event, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, with 24 of the 50 delivered, had their fingers most badly burnt . Not insignificantly, passenger confidence in the aircraft and its use declined.

As observed by Patrick Smith of The Atlantic:

“this is a huge and costly black eye for Boeing and its customers. But it could have a lot been worse. The grounding came pre-emptively before anybody was seriously hurt or killed. It is also helpful that the problem, as we understand it so far, is fixable. Burning batteries are serious, but this isn’t a structural defect which will end up costing billions”

Prospects and Implications

Where does this unfortunate episode leave Boeing’s future business, reputation and leadership in the commercial aviation industry? That depends on how long it takes to fix the problems and in consequence, how long this grounding continues. There may well be wider implications for air travel, aircraft manufacture and innovation in aircraft systems, competition and of strategic leadership in the duopoly of Boeing and Airbus.

Based on the separate analysis and forecast of the future development of aviation and air travel, and in consequence, demand for aircraft, Boeing based its future on mid-sized point-to-point travel that necessitated mid-sized 250-seater type aircrafts.

Airbus, on the other hand, forecast demand for more hub-based travel, requiring bigger aircraft, hence the development of the 550-800-seater double-decker A380. The A380 is increasingly establishing itself. Emirates has ordered 30, and has plans for 90 more. It recently opened a A380-dedicated terminal [6th January 2013]. Implementing either of The competing strategies will result in interesting challenges in the immediate and longer-term.


How Kazuo Inamori revived Japan Airlines

January 12, 2013

Kazuo Inamori

NOTE TO SUBSCRIBERS: THIS IS AN UPDATABLE POST

When Japan Airlines nearly went bust three years ago they called for an eighty year old who had no experience of running an airline. He is now hailed for his results and for his manner of delivering them

Kazuo Inamori had already earned great respect in Japan for his entrepreneurial and leadership skills. These were demonstrated three decades ago when he founded the DDI Corporation (now KDDI), which become a leading telecommunication services provider in Japan. Two decades earlier in 1959 he had created Kyocera, now a multinational electronics and ceramics business.

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On the week of the School Massacre in Connecticut we ask “where have all the leaders gone”

December 21, 2012

Last week ended with news of the Sandy Hook School massacre in Newtown Connecticut and President Obama’s public agony at failures in America to protect the nation’s childrenSandy Hook School Sign

Before the dreadful week-end news, I had been scanning the net to see what leadership stories I could find. These notes are in chronological order.

Leadership training

The first item I came across was a promotional ebook from a successful experiential leadership programme at the Said Business School, Oxford . The approach offers an imaginative mix of experiences involving drama, moral philosophy, music and poetry. The book [53 pages] is worth browsing by leadership trainers.

HSBC money laundering

The next item that caught my eye was the settlement of the money-laundering charges at HSBC. The bank has agreed a $1.9 billion fine with the US Department of Justice over anti-compliance regulations.

“We accept responsibility for our past mistakes. We have said we are profoundly sorry for them, and we do so again,” said Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver in a statement.

Branson Brand Bashing

The next story had a familiar feel, with cult business hero Richard Branson defending his Virgin Atlantic business from a bit of turbulence (Sorry. That cliché is almost compulsory). And alongside Sir Richard we have the egregious Willie Walsh, now fighting his corner from chief executive International Airlines Group (IAG) which now incorporates British Airways.

Sir Richard Branson pledged to keep control of his airline after his arch-rival, BA chief Willie Walsh, said that Singapore Airlines’ sale of its [49%] stake in Virgin Atlantic would lead to the demise of the brand.

From China with Love

Now that’s more like it. A full-on profile of China’s new leader as Xi Jinping, the new head of the Communist Party, made a visit over the weekend to the special economic zone of Shenzhen. The south China province has stood as a symbol of the nation’s embrace of a state-led form of capitalism since its growth over three decades from a fishing enclave to an industrial metropolis.

After Mandela

One of the all-time great leaders, Nelson Mandela, is hospitalized [later he was successfully operated on for Gall Stones]. The news comes at a time when the ruling ANC party in South Africa is engaged in further leadership struggles.

The Glass Ceiling in Oz

The Glass Ceiling has not yet been shattered in Australia, despite the influence of the mighty Rupert Murdoch and residual members of his dynasty.

Starbucks

The tax row in the UK continues to hit at Starbucks image, and perhaps its profits

Japan’s shift of leader

The Liberal Party [LPD]’s massive victory in Japan will re-elect former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who has called for major monetary easing, an increase in the inflation target and big spending on public works to rescue the economy.

Sandy Hook School Massacre

The Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/12/15/uk-usa-shooting-connecticut-idUKBRE8BD0Z220121215 contributed to the sense that political leaders have to deal with forces beyond their powers to deal with. There are calls in America for tighter gun control legislation, but few commentators believe that President Obama will be able to introduce meaningful change.

Reflection

Before the New Town Massacre, I was impressed by the number of encouraging stories in the news about leaders and leadership challenges. There are still positive leadership stories around, and the leader vilification count was rather lower than I expected. Indeed there were quite a few stories offering accounts of positive leadership. However, the end-of-week news takes us back to a more nuanced views of distributed power and leadership’s struggles, rather than stories of heroic leaders with the skills to deliver transformation through a compelling vision of change.


The nuclear crisis in Japan and why your creativity is needed

March 17, 2011


Tudor Rickards

Many people in and outside Japan believe that Japanese people are not particularly creative. This is a fallacy. There is plenty of contrary evidence from its great companies. However, its culture is more disposed to incremental creativity rather than to radical breakthrough ideas. This becomes important in its response to crises. The Fukuyama nuclear crisis demonstrates the need for creative actions.

Over the last week, the world has watched with horror as the dreadful tragedy of the earthquake and Tusnami was followed by escalating problems at the Fukuyama nuclear plant. Various efforts to restrict the consequences of radiation leakage have been tried. In general, however, the crisis management seems to have proceeded in an over-linear way. By that, I mean that standard or pre-planned responses were initiated. Once there was evidence that Plan A was failing, a Plan B idea was attempted.

So, for example, once it became clear that cooling water was needed, a Plan B was suggested to dump water from a helicopter. Once this Plan B was found to expose the pilots to unacceptable risks of radiation, a Plan C was tried, as water cannon were mobilized.

A different way

My concern, based on involvement in numerous creativity sessions attempting to support industrial crisis situations, is that there is a need for large numbers of possible ideas, some of which appear hopelessly unrealistic at first. Furthermore, efforts need to be directed towards multiple ‘mini-scenarios’ which involve as many teams as can be engaged with the creative effort. It can be argued that this is a form of work requiring creative leadership. If carried out with pre-training, the teams can be expected to come up with more, and better possibilities.

It can’t be done

One aspect of such creative work. The most promising ideas are almost always emergent. They are far from obvious at the start of the meetings. When suggested to others in the early stages of idea development they are likely to be greeted with ‘expert’ evidence that they are not feasible.

What might work better

What might work better is a response through social media. The ideas can be generated in large numbers and from multiple perspectives very rapidly. The sheer scale of ideas needs to be managed (the so-called variety-reduction process). I estimate there are thousands of teams who have worked in creativity mode on industrial crisis problems all over the world. But the capacity for self-organisation of such an effort is immense.

Let’s get started

Let’s get started. Hold on to a few basic principles for creative effectiveness. Collaborate with others by improving the unusual ideas, particularly if you can see concealed strengths, perhaps through technical know-how. Look for ideas close to a specific action requiring a short time-period for implementation.
And remember, impossibility is often a matter of perspective not logic.

My first idea is to get this message to students and colleagues who collectively have something to contribute. Creativity can also ‘go critical’. My next idea is to work with colleagues on the matter this morning and identify bloggers who might also be interested.

Not just in my backyard

This blog site is too insignificant of itself to be more than a catalyst. Please spread its proposal as far as you can.

The author

The author has worked in nuclear science (radiation chemistry) as well as in various projects internationally which have generated industrial innovations through applying creative problem-solving techniques

Red Cross and other useful links

The red cross appeal is one charity appealing for funds to support the wider humanitarian crisis in Japan. This Google site is a further great source of information. See also comments to this post, and also for discussion on Risk management