Culture Club...

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It seems a long time ago now, but I used this book in my start of new Academic Year assemblies back in September.


I also referred to it in my first Blog of the Autumn Term...




As I said then, in the context of the background to out best ever GCSE results earlier in the Summer:


Owen Slot's analysis of how Team GB bucked every previous former Olympic and Paralympic host nation trend by further increasing its greatest ever medal haul from London 2012 in Rio last offers fascinating insights into a related culture of continuous improvement.


Last week, I got a further, inside perspective on that culture, and some of the changes at the heart of UK high performance sport that have been put into effect since the book was written.


A perspective that really resonates with schools, and the challenges and opportunities that they face in building their own high performance culture.


Dr James Bell presented to the Youth Sport Ambassador Group. His appointment as Lead Psychologist followed the development of emergent tensions within UK Sport. Cultural tensions arising from the relentless focus on outcomes versus the wider well being of athletes. It’s a tension I referred to just over a year ago, with the issues that were then first emerging in British Cycling, drawing parallels with the performance and accountability culture in an educational context...




And again previously, back in 2015...




A tension thrown into even sharper relief by The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee report at the beginning of the week…




James’ role in response to these issues has been to lead a cultural review within UK Sport, seeking to learn from organisations like Waitrose, which appear to ‘do things right’ in terms of the way in which values influence and shape daily behaviour


Which in turn led me my own reflections on culture. The way we do things. What you see, hear, feel every day.


My conclusion: it’s all about people. The way in which you interact together. Culture is created by people not systems.

Willie John McBide

A conclusion reinforced by the the privilege of meeting, also last week, with Willie John McBide. Now 78, Willie John is a genuine rugby legend; arguably the greatest captain of all time. A giant of a man who, in 1974, famously blended together the individual talents of 30 players from the diverse Rugby cultures of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to forge together the only undefeated British Lions touring Team in History....

Willie John McBide

Forty-four years on from that triumph Willie John, a former bank manager at the same time completely scornful of today’s automated systems and distance from customers, was clear that this winning culture was based on knowing and valuing people - and building lasting loyalty and commitment as a result.

British Lions Undefeated

This week’s learning. I guess it’s all about the culture you actively set out to develop in your club...