Two years ago we looked at six low TWI® teams across six different competitions and followed them up again at the end of their respective seasons. Because TWI® is a very strong indicator of long-term sustainable success, it is a good time to have another look to see how each of the teams have progressed.
Brooklyn Nets (NBA):
Brooklyn were able to perform at an average level in 2014/15 on the back of having one of the highest salaries in the NBA. This mitigated their low TWI®. In season 2016/17 they now have a salary at the bottom end of the scale which means they are far more exposed to the impact of TWI®. Brooklyn's record this season is the worst in the NBA by a significant margin.
Salford Red Devils (English Super League):
Salford continue the similar recruiting philosophies that have had them at the bottom of the ladder over the last few seasons. Last year they were in the final knock-out relegation game which would have put them down into the second tier of English Rugby League. They won that game by 1 point, saving them from relegation. While there seems to be the slightest positive shift in their recruiting philosophy, it will still take a few more seasons before they can feel safe.
Parramatta Eels (NRL):
Low TWI® clubs generally have a buying philosophy rather than a building philosophy. Parramatta took their buying philosophy to the extreme in 2016 by breaching salary cap regulations. While Parramatta have one of the biggest talent pools to draw upon, they are still using the false notion that buying in highly skilled players will bring success.
Melbourne Rebels (Super Rugby):
The Melbourne Rebels are almost the shining light of the six teams listed here (not that you would realise this from the first round of Super Rugby). They have had to reload their squad again and again which means it will take time for the results to happen on the pitch, but at least it is being done in a positive and constructive manner. Whether the organisation can be patient enough and not change course mid-stream will be critical.
When we reviewed London Welsh back in 2015 they had the lowest TWI® in the Aviva Premiership, therefore it was no surprise that by the end of the season they had been relegated. In late 2016 the club went into liquidation and in early 2017 they were expelled from the RFU Championship and effectively ceased to exist as a professional franchise.
Queens Park Rangers (Football Championship):
After being relegated following the 2014/15 season QPR have spend most of their subsequent time mid-table in the Championship. Their results this season are looking to be worse than last season so it will be a few more seasons - and a change of philosophy - before they will be competing consistently at the top of the Championship, let alone being strong enough to maintain promotion in the Premier League.
It takes a significant philosophical shift within an organisation to change recruiting strategy. Only one of these 6 clubs has made that significant shift, but for them it will still be a few more seasons before they reap the rewards. From a long term perspective the worst thing that can happen for a low TWI® club is for a season of success - as counter intuitive as it seems. This short-term success masks the inherent faults within an organisation and creates unrealistic expectations on the organisation and its individual members. This has played out at some level in the recent sacking of Leicester City's Claudio Ranieri.
While TWI® most obviously manifests itself on the playing arena, it is also a measure of an organisation as a whole. Best case scenario for low TWI® teams is sporadic success, worst case is failure of the organisation. This has played out with the unfortunate and sad demise of London Welsh.
IN THE MEDIA
Ben Darwin on Switzer TV with Peter Switzer to discuss the development of GAIN LINE Analytics. Switzer TV is one of Australia's best sources of quality independent business and financial advice and commentary.
GAIN LINE is an operations and management consultancy with a unique perspective on success in professional sports. We believe great teams are more than just the sum of their parts; we believe great teams are the product of the linkages and connections within their playing group. As such, we help clubs build these linkages and connections with a view to sustainable, long-term success both on and off the field. As distinct from other firms in the industry, GAIN LINE places a strong focus on data analysis and quantitative research. This means we offer our clients solutions that are grounded in evidence and real-world experience.