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What is the Root Cause of the Big Sam situation

Audit and Improve / Thursday 29th of September 2016

67 days. That’s all it took. The Daily Telegraph started their investigation earlier this year into corruption in Football, and they must have been rubbing their hands with glee when they caught Big Sam on camera.

Let’s follow the problem using a Root Cause Analysis (RCA). RCA enables you to look at a problem from a number of angles in order to define exactly what the problem is, and give you the right information to make a plan to solve it, and prevent it happening again. The angles we can explore are:

  • Physical Causes
  • Human Causes
  • Organisational Causes

Physical Causes

Not quite a physical cause, but the England Team has been materially failing for some time now. The pressure on the FA to appoint a new Manager after the Euros debacle was extraordinary. The problem is, it’s a shrinking pool of managers where the fans are pushing the FA to appoint a top-flight Englishman to the role. Big Sam was clearly a good choice for his on-the-pitch tactical awareness, but how much did they look into his other interests.

Human Causes

There are lots of human causes in this one. Big Sam probably wasn’t looking to break the rules, but he did seemingly know how to avoid them. The problem is, that Sam isn’t the only one in this problem. He will probably have seen other managers all getting similar offers; in this Country and abroad, so why shouldn’t he explore the offer he was given. There is a well-documented phenomenon of hubris; where people who are given power sometimes think they are above the rules. Perhaps a little of that played in this situation.

Organisation Causes

These failings are those caused by the Organisation; systems, processes or policies that have failed. The FA cannot be so naïve that after the scandals with FIFA, that the Media are not going to be all over corruption in Football. The Daily Telegraph investigation has been ongoing since the Spring, so those in the know would have been aware of it. The least they should have done would be to brief their employees.

Secondly, when an employee is inducted into an organisation, they should be fully aware of the policies and processes that are in place. A £3Million employee should not just be shown the documents and left to sign them as if they were a cleaner in a factory, but rather should be put through a vetting and testing process to ensure that everything is clean. Clearly, that didn’t happen, or if it did, it wasn’t very good.

Thirdly, the whole process related to representation and player contracts needs very careful review. The fact that someone can wave money in front of another person with a view to corrupting these processes shows how weak they are. Imagine how you would feel as a player knowing that you are just meat in a market to be bought and sold. Not only poor governance, but immoral.

So what happens now?

The focus will probably be on replacing Sam as the Manager, but what should happen, and what would happen in any sane business is these issues would be considered fully and plan to deal with them put in place. I doubt that will happen here.

What does it mean to me?

If you’re an England fan, you’re probably concerned. If you’re a football fan, you’re probably really concerned. If you’re a Manager in a business, take a look at the process of Root Cause Analysis and ask yourself if you can do better than the FA. You probably can.