Chiang Mai, Thailand
Monday 23rd September 2013

You can get a lot of thinking & reflection done over 14 hours of flights (unless you are the pilot or a flight attendant that is!) & combined with an enforced 24 hour delay, which courtesy of British Airways flight delays I encountered on my return from the UK on Friday, you can put the World square to rights.

My working time spent back in Edinburgh & London was dominated by delivering a presentation on ankle rehabilitation for DJO Global at the Sports Physiotherapy Meeting, in addition to meeting with a Director of Operations (DOO) of a sports organisation as part of an interview process.  That title (DOO) isn’t entirely correct but I don’t want to disclose the sport or the team on my blog.

Given that the feedback from my presentation was very positive (thank you so much to those of you that have taken the time to drop me an email), much of the time I spent in the various airport business lounges, airline seats & hotel beds was dedicated to reflecting on the interview & researching the organisation.

It’s a funny thing to admit but I actually enjoyed the interview.  The discussion was frank, open-minded, searching & challenging, whilst the interviewer completely sold me on the organisation he was acting on behalf of.  It’s not often you meet someone in that role displaying a real passion & affection for his employer, the ethos they have installed, in addition to the drive to learn & improve on what is already a successful formula.

One of the questions that I was asked concerned the potential challenges of working with the staff already employed by the organisation, how I would operate to optimise their buy-in to a potentially new approach & how the team might be affected.  It’s a situation I’ve been in on a number of occasions & I have enjoyed reflecting on the question in my down time.

“Coming together is a beginning.  Keeping together is a process.  Working together is a success.”

Henry Ford

I have been heavily influenced by a great book called “Beyond Performance:  How Great Organizations Build Ultimate Competitive Advantage”.  Written by Scott Keller & Colin Price, who worked together for the management consultancy firm McKinsey, the text reviews the factors that contribute to the overall health & performance of successful or failing organisations. 

I often carry the book in my bag & by good fortune, I had it to hand on my journey, so was able to go back & recap several relevant chapters.  The authors debate & dissect the factors that facilitate effective adaptation & evolution of businesses operating in demanding commercial environments.  By the same token, operating in sport is the definition of operating in a demanding environment & much of what they discuss is pertinent in the work that I do.

The development of a successful team hinges on the engagement & empowerment of the individual members of the group that are brought together.  As such, I believe that my experience as a lacrosse coach, which I first began at the age of 16, has given me a valuable education & insight into this aspect of management.  The experience was further galvanised during my time as first a senior player & later Scotland Captain. 

“A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself/herself & his/her contribution to praise the skills of others”

Norman Shidle

Beyond my sporting encounters, I also am lucky to have two fantastic friends & mentors, Steve Currie & Steve White, both of whom are excellent man managers & business men.  They inspire me when we talk & I can only imagine that working with them would be an incredible experience, as the development of their staff members reflects the qualities they possess in abundance.  It’s not unusual that I pick their brains on man management issues & how they approach the various challenging workplace situations they face with their teams.

As I was reflecting, I came back to a quote that I have seen attributed to several different sources over the years, but most often to Maya Angelou, an English Literature Professor from Wake Forest University.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I remembered the situations I have been in when new members of staff have arrived in departments or things friends have said when they have encountered similar scenarios.  I ran through different “case studies” & tried to empathise with how each person would feel in the circumstances.  I considered my previous experiences going into new departments, considering which approaches I would repeat & which I would do differently. 

“People want to work in dynamic workplaces, where they feel empowered to make meaningful, positive change happen.”

Neville Isdell, CEO Coca Cola, 2004-2008

The time reflecting has been time well spent & I am grateful for the prompting the interview gave me to revisit & revaluate my past decisions & actions.  It reminded me how much I have learnt from my previous colleagues & places of work; lessons that so often, in the heat of the moment, you don’t hold enough store in.  It’s only in the quiet moments you really get chance to sit back, get the perspective to allow you to review the critical details & subsequently really benefit from the experiences.  

At this point in my life, I am being confronted with some fantastic opportunities, which will demand some tough but exciting decisions over the next few weeks & months.  It will be a period in my development that will include a great deal of transition.  However, the opportunities for reflection will be plentiful & I am looking forward to learning & developing from them all.

Here’s to the horizon, the journey & the adventure!


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the World”.


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