Clyde Street

Learning, Teaching, Performing

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Challenge Conference: Celebrating a Learning Organisation

I have had a wonderful two days at the England and Wales Cricket Board’s Challenge Conference at St. George’s Park.

I admire immensely the transformations Hugh Morris and Gordon Lord have brought to elite performance and coach education.

Their work and the remarkable energy at this conference have prompted me to think about learning organisations (and consequently Harold Jarche‘s views on such organisations).

Harold noted in a post earlier this year (31 May) that three indicators would suggest a true learning organisation:


In the same post, Harold writes about his review and synthesis several of his observations on learning in networked environments. He proposes:


Two of the many innovations discussed at the Challenge Conference are: the launch of a Hub App to support Level 4 coaches; and the establishment of a Fellowship of Elite Coaches.

The Hub will go live on 5 November and offers a rich resource for coaches that are “interconnected in the network era”. The Fellowship is a group of elite coaches distinguished by their achievements and contribution to coaching. It aims to advance the philosophy, practice and methodology in cricket coaching whilst furthering the role of coaching as a profession.

Simon Timson’s Science and Medicine update on day two of the conference was the embodiment of a learning organisation for me. Simon reviewed six years’ work with the ECB and discussed three themes:

  1. You do not need to be fit to play cricket
  2. You cannot predict future potential
  3. Punishment is bad


In discussing each of these themes, Simon drew upon the work of teams of colleagues who were contributing to transformation. His presentation exemplified Harold’s principles. Simon narrated his work in a transparent environment. He gave evidence daily support for social learning. He has made time available for reflection and sharing stories.

Simon has just been appointed UK Sport’s Performance Director. He will take up his post in January 2013. I think this is an outstanding appointment that will raise important issues for both organisations about continuity in learning.

Photo Credit


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Workshops at the Challenge Conference

Gordon Lord has created a remarkable workshop program at the Challenge Conference this week.

There are ten workshops over the two days of the conference.

On Wednesday (17 October):

Nathan Leamon specialises in evidence-based approaches to tactical analysis and to skill acquisition in training. He has developed a wide variety of tools and techniques to help teams optimise their onfield tactics and their use of training time. His workshop is titled Moneyball and Cricket.

Chris Grant’s Team Checklist workshop offers three lenses through which the operation of a team can be studied at any moment:
Are we doing the right things? (content); 
Are we organised to do things the right way? (Process)
; Are we up for it? (Energy).

In his Performing Under Pressure workshop, Dave Alred will look at: the balance between implicit and explicit learning; thinking correctly under pressure; sensory shutdown, behaviour, environment and the use of language (with reference to “no limits mindset”).

Louise Deeley will provide a taste of what Neuro Linguistic Programming in Elite Coaching is in her workshop. She will explore whyNLP has a high practical value for coaches at the elite level, and will explore some of the many techniques and approaches used within NLP as they apply to sport.

My You + (+) workshop is the fifth workshop of day one of the Conference.

On Thursday (18 October) the workshops are:

Developing Fast Bowlers of today and Tomorrow which provides an overview of the ECB’s “World Class” Fast Bowling Programme with insights from Kevin Shine, Richard Johnson and David Saker.

Peter Such will look at Spin at Every Stage in his workshop. Peter will looks at the development of spin and the appropriate messages for delivery at different stages of the Cricketing Pathway. This will include simple strength and conditioning exercises, a heavy focus on technical and tactical drills to enhance performance, as well as appropriate tactical information which is pathway specific.

Graham Thorpe’s workshop, Developing Expertise in Playing Against Pace and Spin, will focus on developing techniques for handling pace and spin bowling, raising player’s understanding of the balance between risk and reward to enhance decision making and measuring success in the practice environment.

Chris Taylor’s workshop will review the methods used for analysing fielding from an individual and team perspective. He will discuss techniques used for gathering information from the training ground through to competition and looks at the potential gains for players, teams and coaching and support staff.

In his workshop, Marginal Gains, Matt Parker will share insights from performance improvement through the aggregation of Marginal Gains used in British Cycling. Matt will cover topics such as, integrating science and medicine into the performance plan, the best practice/innovation cycle, the marginal gains team and awareness of beliefs and false beliefs.

Photo Credits

Edgbaston Cricket Ground From The Top of the Number 1 Bus

The Malcolm Marshall Memorial Cricket Cup at Handsworth Park