They say …..
(source: Eurosport - Tue, 27 Jul 12:56:00 2010)
UK Sport chair Baroness Sue Campbell has warned of the effects of merging the organisation with Sport England could have on Great Britain's Olympic success. UK Sport and Sport England are to be merged as part of the coalition Government's money-saving programme, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt announced yesterday.
Last month, Sports and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson confirmed the two bodies, along with the Youth Sport Trust, would be moving under one roof when outlining his new sporting legacy plans. "The direction is very clear - one organisation and three divisions retaining their separate roles and responsibilities," said Robertson. The move will see the bodies come together with a single chairman and board. Hunt said the merger would "create a more effective structure to deliver sport success and a wider legacy from the 2012 Games".
"The news that the Department (DCMS) is planning to merge UK Sport with Sport England goes further than we had previously expected," said Campbell.
"What is crucial now is that all sides engaged in this decision understand not only the issues but also the risks involved in such a move. […] We are very aware not only of the existing effectiveness of our operation but the incredible strides we have taken in high performance sport over the past decade, and the significant progress made in developing a system that is not only delivering results like those seen in Beijing but also making the UK the envy of the sporting world. With London 2012 on the horizon, it is vital that we continue to build on this and don't distract preparations for home nation success in two years' time."
I say ……
UK Sport chair Baroness Sue Campbell has warned of the effects of merging the organisation with Sport England could have on Great Britain's Olympic success. UK Sport and Sport England are to be merged as part of the coalition Government's money-saving programme, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) announced yesterday.
Whereas the business case for merging UK Sport and Sport England is probably plain to see – at least from a cost perspective - there is a blatant lack of common vision when no less than the Chair of one of the parties to the merger publicly states her doubts about to the proposed venture and warns about its potential negative impacts. Clearly, Baroness Sue Campbell is wise in perceiving the risk of a possible lack of focus caused by the merger in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics; but risks are not inevitable show-stoppers : they must be assessed, hedged against, managed, mitigated, and sound decisions made on that basis during some sort of due diligence phase that would precede announcements.
This would have allowed Baroness Campbell either to influence the outcome, or join the party line, so that all those working within those two organisation as well as their very numerous external stakeholders are reassured about the journey that will lead them towards that one organisation and three divisions retaining their separate roles and responsibilities. Contrary to Hugh Robertson’s statement, at this point the direction appears not to be very clear. And this is very worrying : it is exactly the opposite of the way things should look and feel at the onset of a merger to be poised for success.
If this merger is ever to happen (and current financial pressures should leave us with little doubt that the merger is unavoidable), the Chair of UK Sport will soon have to carry out the perilous exercise of performing a U-turn and convincing her people that the merger idea is the best since the invention of sliced bread.
Whilst on the subject of stakeholder management, it would have been smart for Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to have engaged in dialogue with the two primary stakeholders of this merger, Baroness Campbell and her counterpart at Sport England Chairman Richard Lewis, to get their views and allow them first before going public to come to terms with the fact that when their respective organisations merge, one of them will need to step down, or else both may end up being sacrificed in favour of a newcomer.
This is a bad start, but not all is lost. Just as good cooks know before it is too late how to save a creamy sauce that has begun to curdle, Hugh Robertson, Baroness Campbell and Richard Lewis urgently need to project clarity : a clear definition of how the organisation will operate, what it will feel like, and what will be different compared to how things are today. And this will be articulated around a common vision. That shared vision will become the cement which will allow individuals from both organisations to look forwards, together, in the same direction, constantly reminding themselves of what brought them together.
Elite sport has much to do team work, discipline and the constant quest for excellence. We must now hope that UK Sport and Sport England will learn rapidly to form a team.”