In October of 1997, the Nelson family returned to Newcastle. It wasn’t long after that I started work as the Head Swimming Coach at the University of Newcastle’s new sports facility – The Forum.
From day one The Forum was in a difficult position, in that it had to meet the expectations of any number of different entities. On one hand you had the staff and members off the University Sports Union who had invested quite a considerable amount of money into the development of the facility, then you had the University faculties all of whom wanted to avail themselves of the new facilities. Lastly (but not least) you had the general public of Newcastle, who for obvious reasons wanted to utilise everything that The Forum had to offer.
At the time I was privy to many meetings and discussions as to how The Forum should progress and how it would begin to meet at least some of these expectations. Most, if not all these discussions were led, facilitated and directed by the then Chairperson of The Forum Board, Dr Bernard Curran.
My job was to design and implement a high performance swimming programme within the framework that was being developed to guide the long term future of The Forum.
As part of this process and whilst I was attempting to create purpose, identity and brand for the swimming programme, Dr Curran dropped this little gem of Latin on me…
“Res firma mitescere nescit”
The most used English translation for this is:
“A firm resolve does not know how to weaken”.
However, at the time Dr Curran’s translation and meaning to me was…
“That which is built upon a strong foundation cannot be torn down”.
I have recently been reminded of the importance of this quote whilst consulting with organisations attempting to improve their performance and productivity through increased team work and personal engagement.
And although I continue to see a recognition by most of the need to have these foundations in place, there is also unfortunately a set of actions and focus towards the complete opposite. It’s not that they don’t see the importance of the areas that go into creating a solid foundation, but more because they see a greater want toward the specific endeavours of the group.
For me it is, and always will be, ‘first things first’ and making sure the foundation of any organisation is built upon the solid.
I cannot overstate the importance of this and when I see organisations continually passing on some of the key steps so that they can get to what they feel is the important stuff, I know the future success will be, at best limited.
The individual aspects that go into the creation of the foundation of any organisation need to be specific to that group of people. Therefore it is never a case of just look at what other successful organisations have done and simply copy their approach. Although the general principles within the foundations might be the same e.g. Purpose, Strategy, Goals, Communication, Values etc. the specificity within each area cannot and should not simply be copied.
The successful implementation and ongoing management of a foundation takes time and effort and will demand an air of ‘Real communication’ complete with active positive listening. A preparedness to embrace and effectively manage conflict or meaningful disagreement, and most of all, a preparedness to think, talk and act in a way that puts the team in front of any single individual.
In the end the foundations of any organisation should be based around one guiding principle:
No single step is more important that we skip, overlook or circumvent another one to get to it.
By doing this you will go along way to ensure that…
The Journey Continues!