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Cohesion Governance – it starts at the top!

The highest paid people in professional sport are the athletes, and many say they are the most important asset.
Published on
June 7, 2024

The highest paid people in professional sport are the athletes, and many say they are the most important asset. Yet, decisions made in the Board room have consequences that have positive or negative impacts that far out way the value of one individual star.

Gain Line Analytics have been assessing 30yrs of data to understand what drives sustainable performance.

They have uncovered that the only consistent measurable data set that determines short, medium and long term success relates to Cohesion.

You’re probably hearing commentators around the world starting to use the word Cohesion. It’s also being used by coaches and players in interviews, at pre and post match briefings and on podcasts. That’s because there is now a science around how Cohesion creates predictable performance.

So what is Cohesion?

It’s the measurement of the collective shared understanding of a group of people. OK – walk and talk me through this you say. If you look at a sporting team, how many games has each individual played together, has that been within the team or on a previous team, what position is that player, is it a critical or peripheral role, does it fit within a unit or combination etc etc. You can ask another 9,995 questions to complete the data set, that is drawn from 15,000 professional players globally, in rugby union alone.

OK – let’s regroup my head is hurting. So based on all of these data points, Gain Line comes up with a set of numbers that underpin key markers that predict performance. They give insights into decision making, not just on a week by week basis, but some that impact an organisation for many years, which is why we need to go right back to the Board Room.

Whether they know it or not, the Board has the ability to make or break a franchise through one decision. Examples of critical decisions include mergers, coach selection, player recruitment – retention – transition, feeder club alliances, academies and pathways, board nominations, new executives and the list goes on. All of these have an impact on your Cohesion numbers calculating collective shared experience that determines how you perform.

High & Low Cohesion

Founding Partner of XV Capital, Stirling Mortlock has experienced high Cohesion and low Cohesion environments. “Gain Line’s insights around Cohesion immediately resonated. When I joined the Brumbies I was in a high Cohesion environment with lots of shared experience at local club, franchise and representative levels. There was a system that was easy to slot into and all players knew each others games inside and out. This fast tracked your development and allowed you to perform. I was in the Wallabies set up very quickly as a result.

At the other end of the Cohesion spectrum were the Rebels. We were a brand new franchise pulling players together from the four Australian franchises and from around the world. Although we had a roster of high profile experienced players, our Cohesion numbers measuring collective shared experience were extremely low. We didn’t have combinations or the level of understanding required to perform consistently, and on reflection I now know why”.

Sports analytics is evolving and although it may have started assessing individual athletes around skill, speed and strength, data now adds value right up the food chain to where the long-term decisions are made. Cohesion is a critical overlay for any Board to utilise when making decisions as it directly connects the relationship of one strategic decision to performance. You may save yourself years of mid to low table “underperformance cycling” and in some cases relegation.

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