When it comes to sport, Australia has punched above its weight for some time. Despite our less than stellar results at the 2012 London Olympics compared to our gold medal hauls in Sydney, Athens and Beijing, our per capita medal count is impressive. Our elite athletes are exceptionally talented, well trained and given every opportunity to compete on the world stage via internationally recognised coaching and training.
The problem for Australia, however is our lack of depth compared to larger nations such as China, Russia, Great Britain and the USA. So our risk profile is very high. If Sally Pearson (athletics), Anna Meares (cycling), Tom Slingsby (sailing) and Alicia Coutts (swimming) were injured and could not compete in London, our gold medal total could be counted on one hand. Would there be anyone to step up and take their place for Australia on the podium? Unfortunately it appears not.
Likewise my beloved Carlton Blues who were touted as top four contenders in the AFL at the start of the season will struggle to make the top eight for the finals largely due to a horrendous injury list (plus a few on field indiscretions leading to suspension). Captain Chris Judd, on-baller and tagger Andrew Carrazzo, key defender Lachie Henderson, key forward Andrew Walker and ruckmen Matthew Kruzer and Shaun Hampson have each spent significant time in the grandstands watching matches and not actually playing this year. Unlike the current AFL heavyweights like Collingwood (oh, how it pains me to say that) the Blues simply don’t have the depth of talent to cover these key players. The greater the depth of talent available, the lower the risk profile.
The same applies in business. Look around your organisation and assess your risk profile; do you have the best available talent in your team and can your business continue to perform well in the absence of your star performers? If the answer is no, what are you going to do about it? There are many ways you can address this problem; ranging from up-skilling staff to help them realise their full potential, ensuring you have a steady flow of junior staff coming through the organisation and building up their skills, performance managing poor performers, identifying and recruiting proven performers and looking after your stars to avoid burnout and work fatigue. Time, effort and money spent on retaining your top staff and recruiting new talent will always be worth it. The results will follow because by doing so you will increase the depth of your team, reduce your risk profile and increase the likelihood of your organisation to produce sustainable high performance. But it is not an easy thing to achieve.
There are few greater examples of this, than the Australian Cricket Team of five to ten years ago when we had the choices of Warne or Macgill as leg spinners and McGrath, Lee, Hughes or Gillespie as opening bowlers with many top quality batsmen trapped in the Sheffield Shield unable to consistently crack into the Australian XI, such as Brad Hodge and Jamie Cox. Our depth in Cricket during this era was absolutely awesome and it was no surprise we were the number one cricketing nation. If only things could remain the same!
Ben Walsh – General Manager – Qld