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What Asset Managers can learn from Adam Peaty

Local authority Asset Managers can learn a great deal from the brilliant swimmer Adam Peaty. Peaty of course is an eight-time world champion who has broken the world record on 13 occasions.

Once again Adam has started the GB&NI Olympic list of gold medals, thanks to his win in the 100m breaststroke final yesterday in Tokyo. A remarkable victory, and the first person in our history to retain an Olympic swimming title.

This achievement does not come out of nowhere. It takes a great deal of dedication and sweat. But it is not dedication and sweat that I want to talk about in this article. What I want to talk about is the uniqueness of Adam’s technique, and the impact this has on his success. More importantly though, the impact it is having on his competitors.

During the finals of the first day of the British Swimming Selection Trials in April 2021, Adam Peaty won the men’s 100 breaststroke with a 57.39. This is the 5th fastest performance in history. He already had set a 57.70 in the heats, and now he owns the 20 fastest performances of all time.

Let me repeat that in case you didn’t get it. He owns the 20 fastest performances of ALL TIME.

Peaty's top-20 moment came almost exactly six years after he first broke the 100m breaststroke world record at the 2015 British Championships.

In a recent interview with Olympic Channel, he said: “You’re basically going to somewhere no one on the planet has been before, so you need to have something a little bit different about you. You need a different energy, a different focus.”

A few weeks later, that focus delivered him the current 100m breaststroke world record of 56.88. That also meant that he had become the first man to swim under 57 seconds, before anybody else had ever swam under 58 seconds.

Adam’s emergence as an unbeatable swimmer has made his competitors sit up. They are all analysing his swimming style to see how they can apply this to their approach. And that is a big mistake. Rival nations have resorted to following and filming his every move to discover how he has changed the face of breaststroke.

One thing many of his competitors do not realise is that Peaty’s double-jointed knees and ankles enable him to create even more force in a discipline where 70 per cent of that power comes from the lower body.

Whilst analysing his technique is interesting, replicating it will simply not be possible by a rival, unless they too have double-jointed knees and ankles. His technique is uniquely designed for him, and not for anyone else.

Even in his earliest days, Peaty’s technique set him apart. His legs remain narrower than others, allowing him to kick and glide with less water resistance. Peaty takes 46 strokes to complete 100 metres. His rivals more typically take about 40 strokes.

Adam has reportedly welcomed the copycats, saying: “Anyone can copy anything but it’s never as good as the original, is it? They can try and copy it but they don’t have my feel, and breaststroke is very unique.”

And that is the lesson for local authority asset managers. Too many asset managers trawl the internet to find copies of asset strategies and asset management plans produced by others, instead of forging their own unique path.

The one question I am most often asked by local authority asset managers, is to point them in the direction of a ‘good’ asset strategy or asset management plan.

My answer is always the same. Forget what other people have done or are doing. This will not help you on your journey. In the same way that Adam Peaty has unique knees and ankles, so you have your uniqueness as an organisation, which requires uniqueness in strategic property asset management. Copying someone else will not serve you well.

As Bob Paisley once said: “There is no way anybody imitating, can be great.”

And Bob knew a thing or two about winning, having been Liverpool FC’s most successful manager in its history, winning twenty honours in nine seasons: six League Championships, three League Cups, six Charity Shields, three European Cups, one UEFA Cup and one UEFA Super Cup.

When you are creating a new property strategy or asset management plan, remember that copying will lead you to mediocrity, not greatness.

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