September is often tinged with sadness for me – leaves turning, darker evenings and rather different Saturday afternoons. The end of the cricket season. For those of you who do not know my passions outside of Middleton Hall, cricket has been my sport since I could hold a bat. Brief moments of achievement and many more moments of frustration.
People who do not like cricket, bear with me. There is a point!
This year, I have only played twice and done very little coaching. Time (lack of rather than just advancing years) and an injury have kept me away from Saturday afternoons absorbed by the sound of willow on leather.
My absence from playing has resulted in paying slightly more attention to watching cricket. England have had a remarkable roller coaster of a summer with resultant intense pressure on the captain, Alistair Cook.
Non cricketers, hold on – I am getting to the point.
In observing England’s ups and downs, it occurs to me there are a lot of comparisons with business and specifically social care.
The difference between success and failure is sometimes very small in sport. A dropped catch, an umpiring decision going the wrong way or just plain bad luck.
Attention to detail and careful planning is everything in elite sport. And business.
I used to find opening the batting like meditation – you had to have a clear and uncluttered mind to focus on the ball, the opposition fast bowler and the fielders. On those few good days, time at the crease required (for someone of my modest abilities at least) intense concentration and complete focus. You also could not afford to dwell on mistakes or what might have happened but keep looking forward all the time.
Much is the same in business – complete focus on the right strategy is the key to business direction and business leaders, while learning from past mistakes, can only change the future, not the past. Despite Tesco’s attempts.
Alistair Cook has appeared to recover his credibility as captain for test cricket, but there is considerable criticism for the way he and the team plays one day international cricket. Why? Because limited overs cricket has moved on – other countries are playing with greater imagination and creativity while England appear to be stuck with the formula of ten years ago.
Again, the same in business. You have to keep moving forward, improving and reinventing where necessary as competitors move forward and the market changes
And that is particularly true in retirement living and the social care market. The model of ten years ago no longer works as well.
I am always conscious of the danger of complacency. Customers regularly tell me about great things that we are doing at Middleton Hall but I hope I am always aware that we have to keep improving.
And if I can’t see that, it will be time for me to retire to the commentary box.