@timsrunworld I count cars and their colour and try to calculate the %age of each colour. I know it’s boring but it… https://t.co/AxTZuqS1NY

October Newsletter; Colin Thompson looks at the Olympic legacy.



Dr Colin Thompson looks at what we can take from the success of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games and, more generally, what we in business can learn from the world of sport.


The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were a great success in many different ways. Team GB performed exceptionally well, the organisation was faultless, the facilities world-class and the support of the public was beyond expectations. There were, of course, the party poopers, those who were determined to find fault and cause mischief but, for the vast majority of us, the four weeks of the Games were an inspiration. The real challenge for the organisers and, indeed, the Government, is to create a lasting legacy; no mean challenge!!


Whilst Seb Coe wrestles with the legacy challenge as an adviser to David Cameron, what can we in the business community take from the games? For me this is a much wider question and the answer lies in my long-held belief that participation in sport helps us all perform better in our work and social lives, and that in our business lives we can learn from the way sports are organised and run.


The starting point for me is that a fit body helps create a fit mind which is necessary for success. In business and general life, to be successful you need to have a `fit mind and fit body` at all times. Life is a series of small races and occasionally a marathon. There are so many messages constantly bombarding our senses, hitting us through the media and then people like me are constantly asking you what are your goals, dreams and aspirations? Occasionally we have to remind ourselves that inch by inch its a synch but metre by metre it can be quite hard. What do I mean by this?


Whilst I believe we may have a higher purpose, a mission, a long-term vision, we need to remember if we win the small races we have a chance of obtaining our ultimate goal. We develop the will to be successful by making sure our mind is `fit for purpose` and our `body is fit` to take us on that journey of success. Plan your strategy and projects with milestones, time frames and targeted results. Think about what you have got to do that you could start on time, stop when the task is complete and then measure the results of your successes. Remember one step at a time and visualise the line, you can only win if you a have a `fit mind and fit body` to drive you to the winning line; success is a journey not a destination.


The fit body message is the basis on which a successful business life can be built but sport also teaches many disciplines that also contribute to success in the work place. These include teamwork, decision-making under pressure, commitment, dedication and aggression (the will to win) and respect for the opposition and officials. Also there are many parallels between sports and business; pressure, complexity, constant change and unpredictability. The attributes we develop when we are young to deal with the challenges of the sportsfield are all-important in developing the people we become when we enter the workplace.


One of the challenges that I think we in business need to confront is whether we are providing enough opportunities to the disabled. The Paralympians demonstrated wonderfully how physical handicaps can be overcome and the high profile examples of David Weir and Ellie Simmonds show us that there are some immensely talented and driven individuals out there; wouldnt it be great to have some people like that in our own workforce?


The Archbishop of York said in his address at the opening ceremony (for those that dont remember hearing his speech, it was actually at the 1948 London games not this years!!) No victory in the Games can be gained without the moral qualities of self-control and self-discipline. I think this simple message applies equally to the achievement of any career success.


It is not just in the area of personal development that we can learn from sport. It has been fascinating to see the extensive press coverage of how Dave Brailsford and his team have taken British cycling to the pinnacle of track and road racing. This isnt just a story of sporting excellence, it is a story of organisational excellence. Dave and his team take strategy, planning, structure, personal development and attention to detail to world class levels and there is no doubt that their organisaional blueprint could be successfully transferred into any business organisation. Team Sky and Team GB Cycling are great topical examples for us but there are many other sports organisations that show these same characteristics and we can learn from all of them.


Back to the question of what we can take from London 2012, I think that the simple answer is to encourage the massive surge of interest in all kinds of sport that has been generated. We should encourage our staff and the future generation, who will one day be our workforce, by facilitating their participation in sports. By doing this we will help to create individuals who are fit, healthy, decisive, team players who understand what it takes to succeed and, importantly, to be leaders. Also, we should look closely at how LOCOG and Team GB have achieved world class success, many of their techniques and disciplines we could gainfully transfer into the business world.



In recent years one of the main cross-overs from sport to business is the development of personal coaching into the business environment. In sport both individuals and teams have long relied on coaches to get the best results, yet in business we never recognised the need for assistance if we were to perform to our full potential.

It has been pleasing to see how attitudes have changed in recent years, coaches (and mentors) now have a high degree of acceptance in the business world. There are many reasons why coaching works, too many to go into here, and often there is a lot of scepticism about the benefits. It has been interesting for us to see many former sceptics become real advocates once they see the results that an effective coaching relationship can deliver. If you want to learn more about how coaching works and how it can deliver real personal and commercial benefits, get in touch with us and we would be pleased to tell you more.




Board Evaluation Ltd is an independent practice led by experienced advisors focused on helping organisations develop best practice board processes.

If you would like further information, please contact Gary Cowdrill on 0870 720 3904 or at gary.cowdrill@board-evaluation.co