When the shit hits the fan.

24 08 2009

4 wheels on my wagon

In the European Grand Prix at Valencia this Sunday the Maclaren Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton came into the 2nd pit stop with a 4sec advantage over the second place car of Reuben Barrichello.

Working as a slickly oiled machine the car went up on the jacks, the wheels came off, the fuel pump went in and…then they realised there were no wheels to go back ON the car. After what must have seemed like an eternity the spare set of boots came out of the garage and were fitted. Presumably behind that protective gear there were a few red faces. Following his pit stop Barrichello won the race by 2.3 secs.

Looking at the result we can see Barrichello’s pit times were 8 sec shorter than Hamilton and when Hamilton entered the pits he was 4 secs ahead of Barrichello. Interesting maths.

Interviewed immediately after the race the team principal Martin Whitmarsh when asked specifically about the incident said, “It didn’t affect the outcome of the race…we lost the race because we weren’t quick enough (on the track).”

Interviewed immediately after the race, driver Lewis Hamilton refused to allocate blame to the pit crew and said, “We win and lose together… these things happen.”

When the stuff hits the fan most adults fully recognise their error. It is not always necessary to specifically or openly point it out; those with insight hopefully learn. Sometimes leaders attempt to protect the reputation and “feelings” of a team by publicly sidestepping or even denying problems. Other leaders openly accept the problem, avoid blamestorming, and unite the team in moving forward despite the problem.

Was there really a problem? Did it really affect the result? How is the reputation of the team affected by each approach? Which leader would you prefer to lead your team?


11 02 2009

The House of Commons Select Committee is currently tearing strips off the Four Horsemen of the (Financial) Apocalypse : Stevenson, Hornby, Goodwin and McKillop.


In the harsh spotlight of retrospect, pointed questioning and publicity the four are apparently being held to account for what appears to be most of the current and future economic ills of the country, as well as probably Albion Rovers poor away form and possibly even the poor uptake of MMR vaccinations.

The Times has a useful hate short list of “ The 10 people most responsible for the recession,” which includes our own Prime Minister as well as the previously mentioned Fred “the shred” Goodwin  additionally dubbed “The world’s worst banker”. Quite an epiphet for the man who was in charge of RBS in 2006 when Royal Bank of Scotland were (allegedly) amongst the top ten banks in the world.

Of course there is also the “if I’m going down I’m taking you with me” of  Mr Hornby and his opinion of Sir James Crosby at the Financial Services Authority, his predecessor at HBOS.

Now I know nothing about banking but what strikes me is that only two years ago all of these people were considered amongst the most talented in their field by people in their field. How times have changed. Or is it just they are the focus of the blamestorm?

In a previous post I tried to quantify just what managers bring to a football team. Tony Adams who took over at Portsmouth has slumped to an inseiffolliet score (I.S) of 0.13 and understandably moved on to spend more time with the family. What is less understandable is the situation at Chelsea where Luiz Felipe Scolari has just been sacked. The man who took Brazil to World Cup victory in 2002 then Portgual to European Cup Runners Up in 2004 and semi finalists in the World Cup two years later has become the focus of blame for Chelsea’s failure in the current season. Scolari has a reasonable IS of 0.6 but that clearly wasn’t good enough.

I wonder at the value in banking, football, management and even in life, of allocating all the blame on single individuals for things turning out other than the way we’d like it. The attribution of blame doesn’t change things, in itself it doesn’t punish nor reverse the perceived error and importantly it doesn’t in any way help in the redress of the problem. Culturally it appears that what is required is a Biblical type scapegoat upon whom the sins can be laid and then sent out into the wilderness.

Sure we’d all like things to be different but is blaming someone, however complicit, really the way forward?

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