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What to do About Kevin

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Watching how the ECB has dealt with the Kevin Pietersen situation has reminded me how challenging it can be to ensure a team all pulls in the same direction. Kevin is an extraordinarily talented cricketer who has the ability single-handedly to change matches at the highest level. There is probably no-one else like him in the England team. But (and as far as the ECB is concerned it seems now to have become an insurmountable ‘but’) it appears that his conduct off the pitch has been such as to make it impossible for him to remain a member of the team as they play the final crucial test against South Africa.

We have all come across those individuals who are a bit maverick; the kind of people who think differently and often act differently to everyone else. When that difference is channelled in the right way it leads to innovation, creativity and a hugely positive effect on an organisation. When it comes with a disruptive effect on the rest of the team resulting in factions and disharmony you are faced with a difficult decision.

Do you balance the benefit that individual brings against the harm it may cause (and how do you measure the latter?). If so, when does the tipping point arise?  Or, do you try to accommodate the maverick tendencies and manage the negative aspects as much as you can, and when does that cease to be possible? It is not an easy decision (or it may be an easy decision but the immediate effect on the organisation potentially damaging). Add to that the potential employment law implications involved in addressing these kind of issues and you have a situation ripe with complexity and risk. Sadly I don’t have any solutions and each situation will be unique, but sometimes (and perhaps this is the conclusion the ECB came to), when ‘about the team’ starts to become ‘about the individual’ then the risk to the team is so great you have no alternative but to act.

Posted: 17/08/2012 14:14:15
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