The Rugby World Cup is still in its group stages and England’s defeat to Wales risks them becoming the first ever host nation to exit the competition without progressing to the knock-out stages.
Coaching and the case method
A lot has been written about the final stages of the game, much of it hysterical, but Brian Ashton has long held a reputation for being one of the most thoughtful coaches in the game. His analysis of the closing stages of the game has some very interesting things to say about the importance of identifying and practising reactions to challenging situations before they happen.
Ashton uses England’s decision to turn down the chance to tie the game by opting for a line-out rather than a penalty, and their failure to execute the riskier strategy effectively, to promote a view of coaching that bears remarkable similarities to the strengths we recognise in the case method.
This is what Ashton says: ‘I have written more than once down the years of the importance of Game Understanding (an area so fundamental to winning rugby that it deserves the capital letters). Crucial to this are coaching sessions that put players in a problem-solving environment – where questioning is the means of communication, not telling.
‘As coaches, we should be asking players what happens when they are faced with an A-Z spread of potential decisions and they have to make the right call on the run. We have to challenge them to come up with solutions in the face of sudden momentum shifts. We must encourage what I call situational coaching because this is how leadership is developed.’ (My italics.)
Change the references to players and rugby to students and management and he’s really describing the practical application of the case method. That’s why I believe the case method to be the most effective approach to applying crucial management skills post-graduation in the workplace.
Maybe we should take Brian Ashton’s lead and stop talking about the case method and begin talking about situational learning.
You can read Ashton’s article in its entirety here