Tuesday, 2 July 2013 00:00
Given that sports give the best lessons to the world, be it the drive of the blade runner from South Africa to the come-back of Tiger Woods in the game of ,golf we see how sports tend to give the world a lesson politics or academics can teach. Let me take the recent ICC Champions Trophy that was staged in UK and what pick-ups we can have for Sri Lanka.
ICC 1: T 20 vs ODI
In the final there were more eyeballs that got tuned on due to it being a 20 over edition which happened by accident given the bad weather. If it was a 50 over encounter, the media research reveals that viewership ratings are much lower. It’s strange but just like the private sector – it’s the external reasons that drive innovation.
Pick-up for SL: Sri Lanka must develop a new format for driving the export business of Sri Lanka that is on a downwards spiral. The usual exhibitions and one-to-one meetings are good, but the progress is very Kaizen driven – small improvements. We have to get into quantum leaps and for this we have to get into a re-engineered format. One option can be to focus on Preferential Trade Agreements rather than FTAs as the latter is very time consuming. ICC 2: Must change
It’s strange but the ICC staging a multi-million dollar cricket tournament had not given space of one day extra in the event of bad weather, which is very common in UK, the official reason being that on Tuesday England was to play a T20 with New Zealand.
Pick-up for SL: Whilst there are elaborate plans for staging CHOGM in the latter part of the year, I feel Sri Lanka must carefully plan as to how we can restore the image of the country that has been under attack in the recent past. But as the Nation Branding Guru Simon Arnold commented: “A country must make people experience the wonder of a country than the media pun it does.” I feel Sri Lanka has a focused opportunity at the CHOGM event that we are hosting this year but it needs careful planning.
ICC 3: 50 over format dying
A new study reveals that even the ODI format is on the decline due to the time pressure of a cricket enthusiast. Hence unless ICC changes to be consumer-oriented, the game of cricket can fade on fashion. Today, we see how tournaments, be it tennis or golf, are changing their polices to cater to consumer lifestyles. So why not the ICC?
Pick-up for SL: It’s time that Sri Lanka asks itself why we have not produced an Olympic medallion or an Asian Games athlete in the last 10 years. Is it that we do not have talented people or is it that we do not have a process to develop an athlete? If not the billions of rupees spent on sports will not add value to brand Sri Lanka.
ICC 4: England’s losing trend
Whilst it can be fashionable to be in the final many times, one must ask why a country keeps losing continuously. England lost the 1979 World Cup final to West Indies, in the 1987 final it lost to Australia, 1992 to Pakistan and 2004 to Pakistan once again. In 2013 to India. There is some gap that needs to be closed.
Pick-up for SL: we need to do the same and ask why Sri Lanka has lost 85% of the tea markets that we were in 15 years back. After all over a 1.5 million people live by way of the industry and Sri Lanka is known for the tea industry globally. But how come we keep losing markets every 10 years? Is there a gap that needs closing? It’s time we ask this question as almost Rs. 3 billion is available for course correction.
ICC 5: Culture rub
Even with the bad weather and the shortened game in the final the champions were treated to British flavour of experience, from the white jackets to the champagne and traditional balcony photographs.
Pick-up for SL: Given the 300 million dollar beautification of urban Sri Lanka, its best we have clear theme so that we get synergy from an identification perspective for Sri Lanka. Singapore is one country that has been able to achieve this and I feel the time has come for Sri Lanka to achieve the same.
ICC 6: Midas touch
Dhoni is one of the most successful captains that India has produced. He captured the 2011 ICC world cup. He spearheaded the Chennai Super Kings for the 2nd IPL trophy and in 2007 at the inaugural ICC 20-20 he secured same and this one in 2013.
Pick-up for SL: Sri Lanka must also develop a set of leaders that can take different sports and sectors to the global market. For some reason we as a country do not foster leadership from a professional manner so that each one can play a part in the jigsaw of life so that a strong nation brand can be achieved. Some call for decentralisation to foster this idea, but the fact of the matter is that we as a nation are the loser as at now.
ICC 7: Believe in marketing
As Chris Gayle commented, ICC must pick up some tricks from IPL to promoting a brand. I would go further and call for a strong marketing campaign for ICC so that they become relevant in today’s world. As at now ICC is seen as the white elephant that needs to become marketing-oriented. I guess the extra day that was required for the final match is a pointer on the current orientation being so product-led.
Pick-up for SL: The call of the private sector tourism industry of Sri Lanka is the same. We must take a cue from Thailand and Malaysia and thereby promote Sri Lanka on a distinctive positioning. The current strategy of saying the rooms must be built before an aggressive promotional campaign to be invested needs a second look.
ICC 8: Winners $ 2 million
Some can call it very lavish but the fact of the matter is that globally supply chains are under pressure to the falling demand with Europe getting poor and US struggling to manage the debt burden. This makes media activity like the ICC Champions trophy big ticket items for brand marketers to get exposure for their products.
Pick-up for SL: Sri Lanka must also drive for taking big ticket items for the country. But to avoid collateral damage from an investment and PR point of view we need to step up the drive for better governance and managing issues. If not, all the hard work we do can get damaged. For instance the current 13th Amendment is a classic case in point.
Hence once again we see how sports can teach the world many lessons on running a country to running a company. But the question is, how many us want to learn and make a change?
(The author is a Board Director in the public and private sector and serves the international public sector. The thoughts are strictly his personal views and not the views of the organisations he serves in Sri Lanka or globally. Writing is one of the hobbies he pursues.)