Job search
Job Search

Andy Reed - Learning from failure

Failure is a key stage in the journey to success, and learning from each others’ mistakes can only help the sports sector, says Andy Reed

by Andy Reed | Published in Sports Management 2018 issue 3
Read on turning pages | Download PDF of this issue
Athletes learn from their failures to become better. Why doesn’t the sports sector? / © shutterstock/Denis Kuvaev
Athletes learn from their failures to become better. Why doesn’t the sports sector?/ © shutterstock/Denis Kuvaev

Professional athletes are excellent at learning from defeat. Listen to any champion or winning team and they will often refer back to how defeats and failures in their careers defined them. I’ve been inspired recently by the book Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed, which says that failure is an important stage in the journey to success, and suggests ways to change perspective and admit mistakes.

I’ve been looking across our sector to see how successful we are at learning from failure. Frankly, what I discovered was a culture that doesn’t even embrace sharing best practice, never mind admitting failures. In fact, there appears to be a culture of denial.

In the work I do to support tech startups, I’ve come to learn that the most important thing is to fail faster than the competition. The pace of change means you can’t sit around waiting to create the perfect solution. We need this speed of innovation in all areas of our sector too.

An honest approach
In the summer of 2017, Street League published its annual report. What was new was the healthy admission of where the organisation had failed in its outcomes, rather than just trumpeting all of its successes as most annual reports do.

Being open about where the programmes failed to meet their goals created a lot of healthy headlines. In this sector it seemed quite groundbreaking.

Take for instance the failure of spogo. We all know it failed but I can’t find the lessons learned anywhere. We need to create a culture for our sector where we talk and share openly.

Creating a new culture
In partnership, the Sports Think Tank and Upshot are creating the resources, and a conference in the autumn, to open up the debate. We want to create a culture in which we seek out failure in the same way as we do success.

When people are confronted with evidence that challenges our deeply held beliefs, research has shown that they are more likely to reframe the evidence than alter their beliefs. We need to challenge this thinking. We need to learn when to stop a new programme if it isn’t working, rather than just ploughing on.

This applies to the government, funders and those developing projects.

Learning from each other
As Matthew Syed says in his book: “Learn from the mistakes of others – you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”

This project is vital to our sector. We need to start opening up and sharing our mistakes, so we stop repeating them. The culture of admitting mistakes needs to change with both funders and those delivering sport and PA, developing a much more mature open relationship of trust and co-creation. Perhaps then we can really start to impact on our nation’s activity levels.

Andy Reed is the founder of Sports Think Tank, former MP for Loughborough, and chair of SAPCA sportsthinktank.com

Sign up for FREE ezines & magazines
Sports jobs
Everyone Active
featured job

Swimming Teachers

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive hourly rate
Job location: Nationwide, United Kingdom

Gym Trainer - Manchester Fallowfield

The Gym Group
Salary: Fantastic Benefits
Location: Greater Manchester, England

Extreme Sport Supervisor

GLL
Salary: UP to £11,160 per annum based on 20 hours per week
Location: London, UK

Fitness Manager

Parkwood Leisure
Salary: Competitive Salary and Benefits
Location: Bristol, UK

Commercial Marketing Director

Mytime Active
Salary: Up to £90000 per annum
Location: Kent, England, UK

Dry Side Leisure Assistant

GLL
Salary: Up to £8.75 per hour
Location: Bath, Somerset, UK

Swimming Teacher

MXT Swim School
Salary: Immediate Start - Flexible Hours - Competitive Rates
Location: West Sussex, UK

Deputy Centre Manager

The Climbing Hangar
Salary: £25k - £27k + 20% potential bonus based on achieving KPI's
Location: Parsons Green, London, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £21,284 per annum
Location: Archway, North London

Sales & Fitness Manager

Legacy Leisure
Salary: Circa £22,000 per annum plus OTE
Location: Kidlington, UK
recruiting with sports management

General Assistant

Legacy Leisure
Salary: £5.60 - £7.83 per hour
Location: Nailsea, UK

Sports Centre Operations Manager

Caterham School
Salary: Competitive, based on qualifications and experience
Location: Caterham, Surrey, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £17,806 per annum (39 hours a weeks pro rata
Location: Witney, Oxfordshire, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £16,187 per annum (39 hours a weeks pro rata
Location: Swindon, Wiltshire, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £7.50 per hour
Location: Swindon, Wiltshire, UK

Recreation Assistant (Lifeguard)

GLL
Salary: Up to £16,187 per annum (39 hours a weeks pro rata
Location: Appleby-in-Westmorland, UK

Swim Manager / Duty Manager

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive rate of pay
Location: Kenilworth, UK
recruiting with sports management

Chief Executive Officer

Westmorland County FA
Salary: £37,000 - £38,500
Location: Kendal, UK

Active Leeds Development Officer - Health

Leeds City Council
Salary: Competitive Salary and Benefits
Location: Leeds, UK

Recreation Assistant x2

Dudley Metroplitan Borough Council
Salary: Grade 3 £16,863 - £17,391 pa
Location: Stourbridge, UK

MASTER Aquatic Leads – 3 roles

Everybody Sport and Recreation
Salary: £26,821- £30,152
Location: Cheshire, UK

Fitness Instructor

énergie group
Salary: Competitive Salary and Benefits
Location: Cambuslang, Glasgow, UK

Swimming Lesson Coordinator

Lex Leisure
Salary: £22,000
Location: Bexley, UK

Operations Manager

Parkwood Leisure
Salary: Circa £24,000
Location: Thetford, UK
training with sports management

Area Manager

Leeds City Council
Salary: £34,106 – £37,107 per annum
Location: Leeds, UK

Athletics Coach

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive
Location: Harrow, UK

General Manager

The Gym Group
Salary: Competitive Salary and Benefits
Location: Ashford, UK

Membership Advisor

Parkwood Leisure
Salary:
Location: Bristol, UK

Membership Advisor

Parkwood Leisure
Salary: Competitive Salary and Benefits
Location: Bristol, UK

Lifeguards

Everyone Active
Salary: Competitive salary
Location: Southampton, UK

Health Referral Facilitator

GLL
Salary: £9.71 per hour
Location: Bath, Somerset, UK
lifeguard jobs  Swimming Teacher jobs  apprenticeships jobs  recreation assistant jobs  Gymnastics Coach jobs  membership consultant jobs  Swimming Instructor jobs  general manager jobs  General Assistant jobs  duty manager jobs  fitness instructor jobs  Leisure Assistant jobs  Customer Advisor jobs  Club Manager jobs  Team Leader jobs 
More jobs

Catalogue Gallery

JP Lennard: Leading supplier to Commercial Swimming Pools, Leisure Centres, Health & Fitness Clubs, Hotels, Holiday Parks, Schools and Universities, supplying thousands of products directly into these sectors.
JPL
BSW: BSW is a manufacturer of sports floorings, sports mats, gym flooring, elastomer products for impact sound insulation and vibration isolation, anti-slip mats for securing loads as well as protective and separating layers.
BSW
More catalogues

Video Gallery

Active IQ
Active IQ is an awarding organisation recognised and regulated by Ofqual within the Active Leisure sector designing qualifications that support clear career pathways. We pride ourselves on excellent customer service, and strive to provide high quality resources for our qualifications enabling Training Providers to give a positive learning experience.
Visit website
More videos

Company profile

Company profile: Wattbike
Wattbike is the creator of the world’s premier indoor bikes developed in association with world-class athletes.
View full profile >
More company profiles

Featured Supplier

Opportunities abound at SPATEX 2019
SPATEX 2019, the UK’s only dedicated water leisure exhibition is returning to Coventry’s Ricoh Arena this January.
View full details >
More featured suppliers

Property & Tenders

Location: High Lodge, Thetford Forest
Company: Forestry Commission
Location: White Rocks, Hastings
Company: GVA
More properties & tenders

Diary dates

22-24 Jan 2019
Harrogate Convention Centre, Harrogate, United Kingdom
28-29 Jan 2019
Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted, Stansted, United Kingdom
29-31 Jan 2019
Ericsson Exhibition Hall, Ricoh Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
27-28 Feb 2019
Chesford Grange, Kenilworth, United Kingdom
More diary dates