How the Adelaide Crows new Chief Executive can restore the Football Club with MBA Thinking

January 29, 2021
How the Adelaide Crows new Chief Executive can restore the Football Club with MBA Thinking

Let’s face facts. The Adelaide Crows aka Adelaide Football Club has fallen from grace in recent years and it does not augur well for the year when the first official duty of Chairman John Olsen at last night’s 2021 season launch was to announce the resignation of CEO Andrew Fagan.

If ever an organisation needed MBA Thinking, it is the Adelaide Football Club, and it is now.

Of course, with the luxury of time, the Club could wait just a few more weeks and send every player, runner, and staff person to do A Lunchtime MBA, right throughout our Adelaide Fringe semester, Feb 22 to Mar 19.

However, when it comes to not having a leader as a season starts, the urgency is similar to needing three goals to win the game in the final quarter during time on.

But an MBA never panics. They turn to the principles and insights and forge a course forward. Here’s how I would set out the agenda and criteria for the new Crows CEO, based on the insightful article, 8 Best Practices in Business Management, from University of Saint Mary.

Engage workers and players

The article notes that disengaged workers or players do not care about performing in their roles, they only care about collecting their pay.

The great insight here is that, “the first thing a manager needs to do is find out how to make employees care about the company’s vision.”

My suggestion is to key into the behavioural insight that embarrassment can motivate.

As pointed out by Mandel et al in the paper, The Compensatory Consumer Behavior Model: How Self-Discrepancies Drive Consumer Behavior, from the Journal of Consumer Psychology, when Crows player perceives a “self-discrepancy”, or an inconsistency between their ideal and their actual self (Higgins, 1987), they become motivated to correct the situation.

So if the incoming CEO had new shirts and hats made for everybody associated with the club, emblazoned with Adelaide Crows 2021 Premiers – Guaranteed, it would motivate all personnel to make this happen to avoid the embarrassment of being ridiculed on TripleM, FIVEaa, or in the street.

Reward player effort

In the University of Saint Mary paper, the writer points out that, “no one likes their work to go unrecognised.”

It then discusses the virtue of making the effort to praise players for jobs well done, without worrying about coming across as too “touchy-feely”.

However, as any hot-blooded male who’s ever shared a group shower with his mates will tell you, there’s nothing wrong with “touchy-feely” when you can smell liniment in the air.

So, the new Adelaide Crows CEO must do two things:

  1. They must volunteer to be in the changerooms every game and massage as many players as possible.
  2. They must also rig up a greyhound track around Adelaide Oval and replace the toy rabbit with an AFL Premiership Cup, so that the players can chase the cup at every training.

Be vulnerable

The paper also points out that leaders who make themselves vulnerable, earn respect.

In the context of a football club, and building on the prior point, I believe there is a special and symbolic way the incoming CEO can achieve this.

The new Adelaide Crows CEO must strip down after every match and “shower with the boys”.

This shows the CEO has nothing to hide (well, actually, they might have a lot to hide but what is bared in the changeroom, stays in the changeroom) and is willing to bend over and pass the soap when a brother’s in need.

Staying committed through conflict

While someone who is not up to speed with MBA Thinking might think that a happy workplace is a productive and successful workplace, they are wrong.

As the Saint Mary University article reminds us, when team members don’t trust each other they shy away from conflict to keep the peace, which leads to lack of commitment in what Patrick Lencioni labels as the “third dysfunction of team dynamics“.

The answer is to mandate conflict in the weekly schedule.

If the new CEO can make sure that every player must turn up to a Taut Tuesday meeting with a slur or criticism or outright insult directed at a fellow player, staff member, or even the CEO, the team can start bonding through tears as well as sweat and shower gel.

Personally, I love these meetings at the MBA School Of MBA Credentials, and continue surprising myself by the faux spite I can muster.

For example, only last week I called our Ass Pro Robert Lloyd a scandalous rump-fed promise-breaker!

It went down well and we enjoyed a nice steak downstairs in the Treasury 1860 restaurant afterwards.

Clarity of goals

Of course, not every player on the field can kick goals, or should they?

This is going to be a key question for the Adelaide Crows new CEO to work out.

If a defender scores, will that undermine confidence and self-worth among the forwards?

Therefore the two most important questions for the first meeting on the CEO’s first day in the job will be:

  • Who must do what?
  • What is most important, right now?

For example, with timing, perhaps we can let a defender score a goal, but only after the final siren just for fun, so they can feel good about themselves, in the same way that local bands always make the drummer and bass player feel like they are equal to the others.

Create cultural cohesiveness

If there’s one thing a primeval group of players can do to bond, it is to go away to a secret camp and challenge each other in various initiation ceremonies.

I recall the club did try something like this before the 2018 season but what was flawed was that the psychological boot camp was held in the Gold Coast, instead of home.

Our memories use place as one of the triggers to remind us of experiences.

This is why the new Adelaide Crows CEO must stage a terrifying psychological torture event in and around Adelaide Oval so that every time a player goes past a particular landmark, they’ll be triggered to remember a key lesson.

Focus team effort

An important point in the article is about being prepared to keep realigning team goals.

This is something that Andrew Fagan’s replacement can outsource to the ground staff at Adelaide Oval.

Every week, they should move the goal posts a little, sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right, sometimes on an angle, sometimes forward or back.

It might interfere with the third umpire but on the bright side, that would simply add more exhilarating confusion and befuddlement during tense moments of the game, which is what most punters want.

Hold regular meetings

An MBA is not an MBA unless their diary contains 90% meetings.

We all know this.

But some football clubs don’t and I’d wager the Crows have missed some easy goals on this one.

A regimen of daily meetings should be:

08:00am – Team meeting to set agenda for day’s meetings

09:30am – Minutes of previous meeting and coffee

11:00am – Premiership progress meeting

12:30pm – Matters arising from meetings thus far

01:30pm – What Would Michelangelo Rucci do? A team brainstorming session

02:45pm – Daily update and collective reminder to ask partners to collect children from school

04:00pm – Life skills training

05:00pm – Review of the day and preparation for evening training

07:45pm – Prayers

And there we have it. Some very simple things to keep in mind as the Adelaide Football Club board considers registrations of interest for its new CEO.

As a final thought, maybe it is time for club to recruit from outside football and consider bringing in someone like an MBA academic?

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