Sunday, February 17, 2008

11) The Coach, the Cyclist, and the CRM Consultant

In post #10, as the cyclist, clearly I was at fault. The coach had given me his expectations and I had agreed to do the work and provide the information from my cycling computer. I was the one that started "Gaming" by not providing the information. I began to blame the cycling computer for my unwillingness to provide the data about my riding activities. I did not admit that I felt I was being reduced to "ride data" or that I felt the coach should be talking to me more instead of just looking at my data.

The coach has hired a consultant to come in to determine what went wrong and make recommendations for a solution.
  • The Coach was interviewed by the consultant and showed documentatation on our discussions and agreements on the information I would provide on my cycling activities

  • The coach showed the consultant all the great comparison data he had made available to me for uploading to my cycling computer

  • The coach also said he liked to compare all his cyclist data to decide the best riders to work with because the more comprehensive data he had, the better. The data also made the coach's job of evaluating cyclists much easier than spending time with them personally.

  • The consultant then interviewed me. I said the cycling computer was too slow and I was not being provided with the information I thought I would be. I had hoped I would be able to see more information, not just upload my data.

  • I also said I was spending too much time setting up the computer and it was cutting into my riding time. I said the cycling computer was poor value and was hard to read with just a black and white screen. I couldn't always trust the data because I get strange readings if my batteries are low.

The consultant made the following recommendations to the coach:

  • Spend more time explaining the benefits of the ride data to the cyclist so he will buy-in

  • Tell the cyclist he will be dropped as a client if he doesn't provide the data

  • Upgrade Arne to the Edge 705 with a color screen

  • There is a new software package to upload the data for better analytics

  • Give the cyclist extra batteries and a mobile power pack so he won't be able to say he forgot to charge his cycling computer

Because I have given you insight into the real reasons I have not been providing my ride data consistently, you now know that the previous five recommendations will not work. It isn't the consultant's fault because the consultant can only go by what they are being told. It would seem there is little hope for this situation unless I change my ways. There are likely coaches and cyclists going through this same situation all over the world.

Can you see the similarities to CRM? Can you see the "Real" problem? Is there another solution?

Put some blame on the coach:

The coach has to be aware that athletes are sensitive about providing all their ride data. Ride data collected by a GPS cycling computer, identifies every strength and weakness a cyclist has, that can be identified by data alone. The coach prefers getting good data to spending time with the cyclist and uses the information to select the best cyclists to work with. The cyclist has not been told this, so the cyclist should believe that the data is only used to improve his performance and encourage his good activities. Despite what the coach has stated, his desire to receive all ride data is not just for the benefit of the cyclist. In fact, the data could be used in the decision to drop the cyclist as a client or cut back services to the cyclist. It is not enough for the cyclist to say he climbed that hill, he has to prove it with data. - Do all these unspoken motives validate the fears of the cyclist in providing all the data?

The cyclist isn't being honest about the situation either of course because he doesn't want the coach to monitor every rest break, or chew the cyclist out when he didn't climb the hill fast enough. The cyclist understands he needs to be accountable for results and accepts that. The problems are:

  • The pie chart that shows eight minute rest breaks when only five minute breaks are allowed.
  • I ride better at 2:00 pm than I do at 6:00 am despite all the other riders doing better in the morning.
  • It takes me an hour to drive to the hill the coach wants me to climb but he doesn't know that because he has never been here.
  • I hate being compared to other riders. I am also sure the coach is showing my data to other riders because he shows me their data.

The bottom line: Neither the coach or the cyclist is going to get the desired benefits in this relationship because neither side can be truthful with the other. They may decide to part ways. They may give up on the cycling computer and go back to a manual spread sheet. The cyclist may feel he has "Won" because the activity controls are gone but he has lost far more than he knows. The coach may try out the new Edge 705 with all the new features at a much higher expense. The results will be the same because the unspoken issues about the data are at the heart of the failure. If the cyclist isn't performing, he should probably be dropped. The coach should be spending more time with riders, not just looking at data. If the providing of data will never meet the capabilities of the cycling computer, does this mean we give up on it because riders aren't submitting the data?

A PACT between the coach and his cyclists

  • What information can be provided before a ride will help the cyclists perform better?
  • What information about the ride does the coach really need in order to coach and improve the cyclist?
  • What data about the rides are cyclists comfortable providing consistently and can be held accountable for?
  • What is the best way to provide this data?

If this is the US Postal Service cycling team, they don't have this problem. They aren't doing Google searches on how to convince riders to submit their data. For the USPS Team, if you don't willingly submit your ride data, your spot on the team will be quickly filled thank you.If ALL the USPS team riders, decided they wanted one riding day a week to be cycling computer free so they could ride for "Fun", do you think it would happen? What if they all decided they wanted to go back to traditional monitoring and stop using the GPS cycling computers? If CRM is being used by all your employees to record their activities, I am sure you are not wasting your time reading this blog.

Now I am going to go cycling, WITH my Edge 305. When I get back I will tell you all the data about my ride that makes me look impressive!

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