How do you improve performance and make winners?

Everyone has heard about the revolution in British cycling which led to the biggest ever haul of Olympic medals. Every one in sport and any one interested in improving performance wanted to know how they had done it and could it be repeated in other areas, including local government. When asked the secret to their success team GB said a thousand minute improvements non of which on their own would have made much of a difference but taken  together made a big step up in performance. It turns out the real reasons for success were less to do with a culture of innovation and obsession with the minutiae and more to do with cheating, bullying, an unfair advantage and money. 

Not long after the triumph at the Olympics we started to hear complaints from British riders about a culture of bullying operated by trainers in pursuit of success, recently there has been accusations about drug abuse and it transpires that the reasons for success were more likely the technologically advanced aerodynamic suits that gave riders an advantage over other competitors and the huge increase in funding the sport received. 

The significance of these disclosures will not be lost on those who working in Local  Authorities, where we have been told for years that there is not direct relationship between funding and performance, where the obsessive focus on performance has led to accusations of bullying, where technology has tended to over promise and under deliver and where the constant pressure to meet hundreds of  targets has tempted some to fiddled the figures. 

Blair Mcpherson former Director ,author and blogger 

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