How learning the Long Game Can Help us learn the Long Game at Work

Scottish newspapers recently carried 'Who cares about the Ashes' articles and until recently I agreed. I knew nothing of cricket and was probably happy to remain ignorant. Despite the rise of lovable rogues such Botham, 'Tuffers' and Freddie, Scots can’t bring themselves to like cricket. I recently read the novel Netherland by Joseph O’Neill. It’s written a by an Irishman, about a New York dwelling Dutchman who plays cricket in the 'Big Apple'. My dismissal of cricket as pedestrian and pointless was further challenged by a great FT article recently. It compared the diplomatic strategies of the UK and the US through the lens of cricket and baseball. I watched the great England come back at Sofia Gardens, enjoying the obscurantist talk of silly mid off, slips and LBW. I now understand the basics, courtesy of a great all sports compendium and the advice of a few mates. Our team co-ordinator Noelle Keating also educated me about 'following on'. Noelle could sit in the box at Lords and put Jonathan Agnew to shame with her knowledge of the game and she has the BBC cricket tune on her ringtone. I now know (kind of) what’s going on and why the thwack of willow is so seductive.

The HR learning in this was brought home to me by Jeff Ace. Jeff sounds like a cricketer from a boy’s comic, but he is actually the Director of Health Services at Dumfries and Galloway Health Board. He is the Chief Operations officer in charge of the delivery of healthcare. Jeff told me and my colleague Jill Miller during our Shaping the Future research, that he does a lot of his discussion with medics around cricket. Southern Scotland embraces cricket more than the rest. Jeff finds that cricket helps to visualise how a high performing healthcare team should work. Something about individuals working for themselves and the team and being able to deliver for both. Something about how  ego and status need to be left in the pavilion when the team takes the field. I have now exhausted my cricket knowledge so can’t take it much further but if anyone out there would like to continue feel free!

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