Progressive Liberal Democracy – Pass It On

 The most innocent announcements can have the most profound consequences. One of those announcements happened today when many of us received the following email from Henrietta Latham, the Executive Officer of the New Zealand Swim Coaches and Teachers Association.

At the recent AGM the Board undertook to make some changes to the website and ensure members were informed of up coming events.  We also agreed to make available the minutes of each Board meeting moving forward, along with the Minutes of the AGM.  All minutes from 1 February 2018 forward are now available along with the DRAFT Minutes of the 2018 AGM.   Please follow the links provided to find the most recent changes;

2018 Award Winners here

2018 Minutes  and DRAFT AGM Minutes here

News and Information is being updated regularly here

Course Calendar is now linked to the SNZ website here

We will be making further changes and will keep members informed.


The full significance of this announcement might not be immediately appreciated. I’m not referring to the publication of the AGM Minutes. These annual events are normally fairly procedural. In a stable organization like the NZSCTA, the minutes of annual meetings tend to record simple rule changes and the election of officials. The minutes need to be publically available. They always are of course, through the Registrar of Incorporated Societies, but the organization’s decision to support the statutory requirement with its own publication is a welcome step forward.

I also welcome the intention of the NZSCTA to update members with improved news and information and with a calendar of swim-courses. That too is as it should be and is welcome. It is not however unusual, nor does it represent a new open approach to the management of swimming in New Zealand.

But, the promised publication of the NZSCTA Board minutes – now that is revolutionary. Since 2011 the management of swimming has been characterised by secrecy and silence. Mushroom management – feed them manure and keep them in the dark – has been the prevailing business model used to manage New Zealand swimming. The Chairman of Swimming New Zealand, Bruce Cotterill, writes books on management. If his time in swimming means anything his next volume could well be called, “The Benefits of Mushroom Management”. He certainly knows plenty about the subject.

And like obedient puppies the NZSCTA followed the example of the corporate parent. It too became secretive and hidden. Decisions were made behind closed doors and remained in the dark hidden from the rank and file members. In a period when the cleansing property of fresh air was needed the most, NZSCTA and SNZ management told us nothing. Remember when Sutton announced he was going to meet Johns and find out why Hurring and Bouzaid were treated so badly. I guess the meeting took place but we, of course, were never told about the content or the conclusion; silence, secrecy and mystery was all we were given. 2011 to 2018 was a depressing and sad period in New Zealand swimming history.

But it looks like someone at the NZSCTA has decided all that should stop. Board Minutes should be published. The NZSCTA should become a liberal democracy responsible to its members. Management practice should join the 21st Century. When an organization’s website proclaims that two of its core values are “transparency” and “accountability” it is clearly not right for it to indulge in management practices favoured by the Soviet KGB.

I am certain the change is a good one. The involvement of members will improve. The knowledge of members will increase. The loyalty of members will strengthen. Many years ago Arthur Lydiard said to me, “David, the first rule of coaching is, “Always trust your athletes”. The problem with Cotterill’s secret management style is that it leaves the impression of mistrust – probably because hiding those minutes, making those decisions in secret, keeping information away from the members, is based on deception. The reality is a lack of trust.

But it looks as if, for the NZSCTA, all that is a thing of the past. From 2018 minutes of Board Meetings will be published. Well done the NZSCTA; brilliant. The NZSCTA next job is to bring about the same reform to the Board of Swimming New Zealand. Is anyone taking bets on whether Huckins, Cotterill and Johns will see the light? They should. It is obviously the right thing to do. Cotterill is supposed to be the master guru of capitalist management theory but appears to know little about the principle of shareholder accountability. My guess is that Swimming New Zealand’s reactionary cliché would vote against the abolition of slavery, the enfranchisement of women and the publication of Board minutes. We can only hope that even these Neanderthals will see the reform working well for the coaches and will announce, to a gullible swimming world, that they are going to begin the distribution Board Minutes. And when they do Cotterill will be all over the internet telling the New Zealand management world about this new, liberating and successful corporate tool he has discovered. Just imagine the recognition that will flow from the NZ Institute of Directors on that exciting news.

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