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.

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A Tour of the St George’s Park Science and Medicine facilities

I had the opportunity to take part in a tour of the St George’s Park Science and Medicine facilities this morning.

There is a YouTube introduction to the whole of the St George development. This is a David Sheepshank’s introduction to the facilities.

These are some of the pictures I took of the facility. The tour encouraged me to think even more about the connections between place, space and learning.

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Challenge Conference: Day 1

Tim Dellor was the Master of Ceremonies for the day at the Challenge Conference. He noted that this was an invitation Conference.

Hugh Morris was the first speaker at the Conference. Hugh has been the Managing Director of England Cricket since October 2007. Hugh noted that 131 Level 4 coaches were in attendance. He added that there are 60 coaches in the program at the moment.

His theme was Balancing Stability and Change.

In the second session of the morning, Challenges and Conventions, Steve Bull and Andy Flower discussed coaching and performance. Their session was a video recording of a conversation held away from the Conference.

Ralph Hippolyte and Bertrand Theraulaz presented An Introduction to the Action Type Approach in the final session of the morning’s program. This was the first of two presentations by them at the Conference. The Action Types Approach explores how the brain and the body connect together to coordinate and adapt through movement. I was very interested in their discussion of the “motor signature” of each individual and the tests they use to reveal motor aptitudes and profiles. I am keen to learn more about the personalisation and differentiation possibilities of this work. Ralph and Bertrand have been working with English Cricket for some time.

The afternoon session started with a discussion between Steve Bull and Andrew Strauss of Leading to a Winning Environment. In their conversation Steve and Andrew considered:

  • Creating and communicating a vision
  • Building trust, respect and belief
  • Leading change through strong team values
  • Dealing with setbacks
  • Managing pressure as a leader

The remainder of the afternoon program offered four workshops. These were facilitated by Chris Grant, Dave Alred, Nathan Leamon and myself.

The Day concluded with a Conference Dinner.


St George’s Park

I travelled from Loughborough to Burton-on-Trent today to start my stay at St George’s Park for the England and Wales Cricket Board’s Challenge Conference.

I drove with Ralph Hippolyte and Bertrand Theraulez. They are keynote presenters at the Conference (Introduction to the Action Type Approach and Practical Application of the Action Type Approach.)

St George’s Park is set in 330 acres of landscaped parkland and is the training base for the 24 England football teams. Facilities here include:

  • 11 full size outdoor pitches
  • One elite DESSO training pitch which is an exact replica of Wembley
  • A full-sized indoor football pitch equipped with a viewing gallery for up to 200 people
  • A 60mx40m multipurpose indoor sports hall
  • Medical and sports science facilities
  • 2 hotels

I have arrived eight days after the official opening by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

I am staying in the Hilton Hotel on the site.

I am sharing my bedroom with Trevor Francis

and David Beckham

I like the use of photographs around the Hotel and saw this picture taken at Bisham Abbey.

I have been following developments at St George’s Park for a decade. It is an experience being here and already I have been thinking about the space and place issues that have been a particular interest for me in the last two years. I thought in particular about Boot Rooms.