Monday, 10 February 2014


This is not just about cricket I promise. It’s about management and marketing.

There were two things I came across this week following the Kevin Pietersen debacle. The first was from my wife who having a very sharp sense of the zeitgeist said:

“It’s ridiculous they’ve fired him. He’s our top scorer and he’s cute.”

The second was in an article by Simon Barnes lamenting the folly of his departure. He quotes from an English swimming coach:

“He faced his swimmers and asked “who here wants to be mediocre?” It seems to me had the same question been addressed to the England cricket team they would have been holding up their hands.”

So to a non-cricket fan it’s talent, sex appeal and charisma that counts. And to a highly intelligent pundit the standards have deliberately been lowered to read “England lose harmoniously”.

Let’s lament the following disruptive influences – Ian Botham, Shane Warne, Fred Trueman, Ian Poulter, Nick Faldo, John McEnroe, Steve Jobs, Vincent Van Gogh and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The world would have been better, would it not, without these show-off virtuosos?

I used to work with a talented advertising man called Richard French. He believed the role of management was to manage the unmanageable. I realise now he meant me as well as others. Interesting that Pietersen, who ranks as a self-preening, adolescent genius – but maybe the best batsman to have played for England since Hutton – has divided the ranks so clearly between journeymen and stars. Of course he was a pain and a challenge. The sort of challenge Mike Brearley, the England Captain, faced with Botham in 1981.

If calm, reasonable, group-think HR ran the world none of the mavericks above would have been allowed near a cricket pitch, golf course, tennis court or boardroom. Because talent when it reaches the level of a Jeff Bezos (head of Amazon) or a Steve Jobs (late head of Apple), spills over into outrageous behaviour. Indeed one questions whether a Lloyd George, JF Kennedy or Bill Clinton would have been allowed anywhere near high office in the 21st century.

More to the point why do we all let people with such genius get backed into an isolated corner of disapproval from which disgrace or dismissal seems the best solution? The two jobs of management are to manage these unreasonable people with oodles of talent, not to be scared of them.

And to inspire winning performances whilst marketing is there to delight audiences with spectacular achievements.

I don’t think either course was necessarily best served this week.

In fact I think we settled for bronze.


No comments: