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Six ingredients for Olympic-style success

The PyeongChang Winter Olympics has been a fantastic success story for our British athletes, with a best ever five medals achieved. This included historic runs from our Skeleton team: Lizzie Yarnold, who held onto her gold medal for a second year, Laura Deas who clinched the bronze, and Dom Parsons who won the first ever medal in men’s Skeleton.

Here at Ignite we have a particular interest in the Winter Olympics because of our sponsorship of the Skeleton talent squad.

The reason why we were so attracted to this sport is the fact that they have succeeded so well against all the odds. Much of our work in the public sector is focused on helping organisations and people respond positively and confidently to challenges that often seem impossible at the outset. But, just like with British Skeleton, it is in such circumstances that our clients have demonstrated their incredible levels of tenacity, commitment and imagination. Together we have built teams who continue to provide essential support to local communities in the face of escalating demands and challenging finances

Achieving success against all the odds – British Skeleton

How does the Skeleton team continuously succeed against the odds, and what can we learn from them? We have seen, at close quarters, their approach, culture, mentality and sheer determination. We’ve learned from the team that there are six key ingredients to their success:

Spirit of resourcefulness – British Skeleton is used to competing with and outperforming countries with significantly greater access to essential resources such as track time and funding. They have developed a spirit and culture of resourcefulness that enables them to explore bold and imaginative ways of overcoming the simple fact that, for example, they do not even have a Skeleton track in this country.

A high-performance culture – Skeleton have developed and embedded a simple but high-impact performance formula at the heart of their organisation. They know that they need to have the right athletic potential, world class coaches, the maximum ice time and cutting-edge equipment to succeed. Behind each element is a relentless focus on being the best they possibly can be and total visibility of just how far they have progressed.

A clearly defined purpose, vision and brand - their purpose is ‘to inspire the nation through extraordinary performances’ and their vision is ‘to be the world’s leading sliding nation'. The overarching ‘brand’ of British Skeleton is centred on ‘winning against all the odds’. This is continuously reinforced through a deep-rooted understanding and pride in the heritage of the sport.

Relentless focus on the things that really matter – they decode what success requires into individual areas (sliding, pushing, etc) then further decode this into small elements that can achieve success and then set goals against these small elements. Every individual training session is a unique and important development opportunity – “come in, focus, get it done and then move on”. They have target outcomes for each session – their focus on taking every opportunity to develop is astonishing.

Outstanding leadership – in recognising the vital importance of leadership British Skeleton has scoured the globe seeking the very best leaders they can find and have gone to extraordinary lengths to attract them to this team. This leadership extends from visionary leadership at the top right down to strong and decisive operational leadership in their day to day activity. They all share a common set of agreed principles that guide and inform the way they lead.

Winning mentality – they feed off their heritage and the presence of medal winners in the team to hard wire a winning mentality in everyone. They then reinforce this with a series of unique rituals, codes of practice and ways of working that acknowledge and celebrate the act of winning and everything that contributes to this.

In our work across the public sector we are supporting organisations whose very future relies on their ability to explore bold and imaginative ways to configure and run their organisations. It is only through this that they can continue to provide the kind of excellent and affordable public services we so desperately need. We are fortunate to be able to take much of the learning from British Skeleton and apply it in our work that ultimately benefits all of society.








It is a privilege to be associated with a set of athletes and coaches that are such an outstanding example of just what can be achieved.

​We hope our current talent squad will have an equally bright and golden future!