Before the Goldrush

5 key learning points from Rio

It is hard to get your head around the achievements of Team GB these last couple of weeks.  Those of us who are old enough may remember getting up early in the morning to watch David Hemery win Britain’s solitary gold on the track in Mexico, and the stir that created.  20 years ago in Atlanta the haul was one solitary gold medal for the whole games.  The role of the eternal also-ran seemed ours for the taking, GB were simply not able to compete with others.  Set against this backdrop, the performances at these games and the sheer dominance in some events, seem unreal.

These changes haven’t happened overnight though and it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise when tracking each subsequent games up to London 2012.  It takes time to develop greatness.

So what is needed to achieve high performance?

  1. Investment – the correlation between lottery money and success is undeniable, if we want to be successful we need to invest. For business this could mean money but it also means investing time and effort to help people excel.
  2. Knowing what Good looks like – setting targets and goals has helped Team GB and the teams within.  Setting out clear expectations of individuals and making tough decisions when needed.  Business follows exactly the same principles (or should do).
  3. Going from Good to Great – Dave Brailsford is widely credited with the success in Cycling and you may have heard him talk about “marginal gains”. That means having 1-1 conversations with people to find out all the tiny adjustments that can be made to their environment, that cumulatively lead to success.  Business should do that too, creating optimum conditions so people can be great.
  4. Values – at the heart of the cycling team is a set of core principles, things like “ownership” and “commitment” and these are coached and lived and breathed to create professional athletic behaviours.  Businesses also have core values and the very best ones believe in them and use them to drive professional behaviour.
  5. Feedback – our athletes are possibly the most observed and critiqued people you will ever see, every performance and nuance of performance will be played back, each time providing instant feedback on how to improve.  Business should provide, if not the same level, at least regular instantaneous feedback and conversations about performance.

Of course it isn’t all as straightforward as that and it may take time in business to begin to see a return on all of the above.  But if we start now with our people we may well see some quick wins and, in the words of BBC commentators who insist on turning nouns into verbs, they may even eventually “medal”.

I will be talking more about this on our “Performance Management: Courageous Conversations” at St Helens Chamber on 8th September and there are significant discounts for Chamber members.

Posted by John Drysdale
19th August 2016
John's Blog


New Projects for Summer/Autumn 2018

It has been a really rewarding couple of weeks here at No Guru with new work and wonderful new clients added to our portfolio.

This week we met with the Senior Team at Irwell Valley Homes who have commissioned a project in support of their new brand. (more…)

No Guru now working with University of Huddersfield

Quarter 1 has started off with brilliant news, a newly commissioned programme of delivery for the University of Huddersfield to deliver ‘Strategic Thinking in Higher Education’ as part of an ambitious programme of development for Senior Managers. This leads to a recognised qualification from the Chartered Management Institute.  Head of Staff Development, Daniel Benton explains (more…)

Coaching for Results: Event with Professional Liverpool

We are delighted to be partnering with Professional Liverpool to deliver a FREE seminar on Monday 5th March (3pm to 5pm).

This explores the role of Coaching (and Mentoring) in helping staff deliver business results.  The session will be run by John Drysdale and will be a chance to find out how you can coach more effectively and perhaps consider a role in Coaching and Mentoring through our ILM Programmes.

To reserve your place click here. (more…)


John's Blog

The Immortal Memory: Robert Burns

Address to The Liverpool Athenaeum  2nd February 2018

I was delighted to be asked by club President Sir David Maddison to deliver The Immortal Memory at The Athenaeum Burns evening which I attended with my wife Fiona. This is a huge honour for any Scot and I hope I did it justice.  Burns provides such a rich tapestry I found it a real challenge to be succint and speak in a way that would connect with the audience – I chose to set Burns against the universal themes we recognise today and in the challenges we face in uncertain times.  I hope you enjoy it.   JD


The Immortal Memory – Robert Burns 1759-1796

The Athenaeum 2nd Feb 2018

President, ladies and gentlemen, fellow proprietors and distinguished guests.  I am honoured to propose the Immortal Memory this evening.

To one Robert Burns who lived between 1759 and 1796.


Image Triage – be careful what you post

How to avoid public ‘shaming’

If you’ve ever read Jon Ronson’s book ‘Shamed’, you will know the devastating effect social media can have on people who have posted something stupid on the internet.

Ronson highlights the case of Justine Sacco (a director of corporate communications) who, before boarding an 11-hour flight from Heathrow to Cape Town, Tweeted to her 170 followers what she thought was a series of lighthearted, acerbic comments about her journey. (more…)

Across the great divide

Reworking of an earlier blog of mine, marking the 50th Anniversaries of the deaths of Martin Luther King (4/4/68) and Robert F Kennedy (6/6/68)

Let’s be kinder to each other 

There is a striking memorial in a park in Indianapolis.  It marks the spot where, in April 1968, Robert Kennedy told a waiting crowd that Martin Luther King had been shot and killed, before speaking from the heart and his own personal experience, that violence is never an answer to our grievances.  His calming words quelled the rioting that other cities endured in the days after Dr King’s death and, arguably, saved some lives that night.


The memorial itself is an arresting work of art.  (more…)