We're used to hearing Olympic champions thank their coaches, families and gods while clutching their hard-earned gold medals, but few have yet offered a word of thanks to the management consultants that helped them bring that precious metal home.
But Great Britain's Olympic sailors, who won four golds, one silver and one bronze medal in Beijing this year, may owe a small debt of gratitude to Accenture. The consulting giant has brought its blue-chip expertise to a new arena as part of a £165,000 sponsorship deal with British sailing team Skandia Team GBR and the sport's governing body, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA).
Since March 2005, the consulting giant has been working with the RYA to identify areas where its business and technology expertise can contribute to the performance of the GB sailing team. As the team stepped up its preparation for the Beijing Olympics, Accenture initiated a performance management project aimed at maintaining Britain's position as the world's number-one sailing nation.
The profiling tool brings Accenture's corporate performance management expertise to the sporting world, allowing management to set common goals for every member of the team, from sailors and their coaches to support staff. Throughout the training process, team members log their progress objectively using preset values.
The resulting data allows team management to co-ordinate training regimes across the whole team, so that all sailors and coaches follow the same optimized training programs and so that any weaknesses, be they individual or across the team, can be spotted and rectified quickly.
Trevor Hatton, Accenture Scotland managing director and the most senior advocate for the program, explains that consistent reporting reduces the element of chance when it comes to choosing and training potential medal winners.
"Unless you've got some kind of consistent measure it's very difficult to know how to get a gold medal winner, and what a gold medal winner should look like," he says.
Just as a corporate performance management system might aggregate data from all parts of a company, so every possible variable that impacts a sailor's performance is taken into account, including the boat, sails and mast, diet, exercise regime, physical condition, the rules of each yachting class and even that great unpredictable, the weather.