“And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered” – Ezekiel 34:5

Last week was a week of continuing humiliation for West Indies cricket supporters as they received a pummeling at the hands of the focused, disciplined and relentless Australian cricket team. It was a week of rejoicing for Australian cricket supporters and commentators who well remember when the shoe was on the other foot.

Australians had even more to shout about as their football team boosted their pride by qualifying in the Oceanian zone for FIFA World Cup Germany 2006. The Caribbean cricket commentators seemed to have sought some solace in the joy of the success of the Trinidad & Tobago team as they too qualified in the North, Central American and Caribbean zone for next year’s world cup. Indeed it was refreshing to see Caribbean people stand behind the T&T warriors before and after the Bahrain match.

What can we learn from the failure of obviously talented West Indian cricketers and the success of the team of T&T footballers. The blame for a non-competitive performance, in this day of management science, must be placed at the feet of ‘lack of leadership and management skills’.

At this point we should pause to celebrate the life of Peter Drucker, the father of modern day management science, who passed away last week at the age of 95.

When the final whistle blew in Bahrain and T&T began celebrating, Jack Warner (the father of modern day football in T&T) considered it ‘an unbelievable achievement’ and one for which much of the credit must go to coach Leo Beenhakker. Warner stated that: ‘I can’t give enough credit to Leo Beenhakker. He has brought a level of professionalism and a level of belief, actually. He gave us that belief that we could compete at this level, that we could compete with the likes of Mexico and the US and the rest of the group. I think Trinidad and Tobago team has got better as the campaign has gone by. Leo changed the mind-set of the players and psychologically he made us believe that we can be a better team and all of the players took that on board and were able to produce that on the pitch. Not every game we did well but he brought that fighting spirit, that tactical awareness and that self-belief that we could do this’.

Can the West Indian cricket coach, Bennett King and his team, do the same? Maybe, with some help.

As I predicted a few weeks ago in this column, all those who are exposed to Dr. Edward de Bono on his visit to Barbados will undoubtedly benefit from a stimulating experience. The expert in lateral or parallel thinking, made a brilliant presentation to a packed Frank Collymore Hall last Monday night despite the torrential rainfall. It was on the occasion of the 30th Sir Winston Scott Memorial Lecture mounted by the Central Bank of Barbados. Hopefully, this experience will allow us to think laterally, embrace change and find solutions to our problems.

In her welcoming remarks, the Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Marion Williams made mention of the fact that among the impressive list of Dr. de Bono’s international clients is the Australian cricket team. Is there a message here for our cricket administrators?

In his writings, www.edwdebono.com , Dr. de Bono states that from the past we create standard situations. We judge into which ‘standard situation box’ a new situation falls. Once we have made this judgement, our course of action is clear.

Such a system works very well in a stable world. In a stable world the standard situations of the past still apply. But in a changing world the standard situations may no longer apply. We cannot afford to be wedded to the past. Instead of judging our way forward, we need to design our way forward. We need to be thinking about “what can be,” not just about “what is.”

Yet the basic tradition of Western thinking (or any other thinking) has not provided a simple model of constructive thinking and that is precisely what the Six Hats method (parallel thinking) is all about. A thinking system based on argument is excellent just as the front left wheel of a car is excellent. There is nothing wrong with it at all. But it is not sufficient. Parallel thinking means that at any moment everyone is looking in the same direction.

But parallel thinking goes even further. In traditional thinking, if two people disagree, there is an argument in which each tries to prove the other party wrong. In parallel thinking, both views, no matter how contradictory, are put down in parallel. If, later on, it is essential to choose between the differing positions, then an attempt to choose is made at that point. If a choice cannot be made, then the design has to cover both possibilities. At all times the emphasis is on designing a way forward.

In all fields of endeavour, the adoption of a ‘shepherd’ should be high among our priorities, ‘lest we become meat to all the beasts in the field’.