The PowerPoint Revolution

Leading into this season, there appeared to be a tentative attempt to rebrand the Carlton Football Club. The phrase ‘New Carlton’ was heard to escape sporadically from the mouths of key personnel, much in the manner of semi-formed thought bubbles. The only practical effect was to send a shudder of recognition through those of us old enough to remember the New Magpies.

But for a club with a new(ish) president, new CEO, and a recent history of leadership that leaves Tony Abbot looking like Nelson Mandela, the $64,000 question remains: what’s new?

The bloodless handover of the presidency from Kernahan to LoGuidice raised more questions than answers. Was it a rare example of egos taking a back seat? Or an expression of spiritual exhaustion? Is Mark LoGuidice simply an acceptable compromise to a board with a factional balance more sclerotic than the ALP? Or does he represent a genuine way out of the post-Elliott quagmire?

And what of Swann out, Trigg in? A fully paid up member of the AFL Boys Club, Steven Trigg could be just another safe, unimaginative option – another ‘name’. And yes, there’s the obvious Tippet baggage. But against that, a number of other clubs pursued him, so if we’re fools for getting him we’re at least not fools on our own. For once.

Before proceeding further, we need to come clean about a problem that will face anyone trying to lead Carlton for decades to come. It always creates a dilemma when a relative goes mad, smashes all the furniture, and defecates on the walls. No matter what you think of this behaviour, they will always be family, and sooner or later you’re likely to have to sit down to Christmas dinner together. This dilemma applies doubly when said behaviour was committed by figures who will always loom large in club history. In the interests of getting on, full and frank disclosures will inevitably, at times, need to be circumscribed.

What LoGuidice, Trigg, et al also need to realise is that two decades of calamitous bullsh!t, offered up by a succession of club leaders, has predisposed those Carlton members not already medicated to have a hair-trigger response to anything with the slightest suggestion of pseudo-corporate wankery. Earnest declarations such as ”Centre of List Management Excellence” will only invite ridicule.

Which would seem to lead us to our newest plan for the future, KEY DRIVERS OF SUCCESS. Though some small gratification can be gleaned from confirmation we no longer do our corporate planning on the back of Jack’s old bar tabs, the biggest hurdle Key Drivers was always going to face was that its immediate predecessor was THE BLUE PRINT. This Kernahan-era nugget was soon proved an exercise in North Korean levels of delusion. For those disinclined to wade through the details, The Blue Print’s bottom line was “winning two premierships by 2015” and “highest yielding members (of Victorian AFL clubs).”  [I think that means most. – Ed]

Missed by thaaaaaaattttt much…….

Stepping boldly in the footprints of The Blue Print, Key Drivers exhibits many of the same problems. This should not surprise. All such exercises are inherently naff. Football usually looks most ridiculous when it tries to look most corporate. It’s the old gorilla in a tuxedo principle: one does not go with the other, no matter how much you spend on the tux. This problem doesn’t apply just to football. In our working lives, who amongst us hasn’t sat through numerous similar management presentations? Ever left one not wishing back the time just squandered? These exercises just highlight the limitations of conventional management expression.

So it is the easiest thing to flog Key Drivers, but what’s the point? The horse can’t be any deader, at least as presented. But within it are the kernels of what is required. Recruiting, list management and player development are precisely where Carlton must do better. Only actions will give these ideas flesh. Judge what people do, rather than what they think they should say.

On this score, recent evidence at Carlton is, ahem, mixed.

Steve Silvagni has returned to the fold as List Manager, confronting a very different task to what he faced at GWS, where he had the recruiter’s equivalent of a Willie Wonka golden ticket. But Mark LoGuidice has described Silvagni’s role in terms that make him sound like a de facto Football Manager, which no doubt comes as quite a surprise to the current Football Manager, Andrew McKay.

However, Silvagni wasn’t first choice for his current role. Not yet in the President’s chair, LoGuidice made a play for Hawthorn’s Graham Wright. Shane Rogers, Carlton’s then head of recruiting, was not consulted. The play for Wright failed, and Rogers was reportedly disgruntled. Nevertheless, he signed a new contract. Then, when the restructure under Silvagni was announced, Rogers quit on the eve of this season.

Still following me?

It occurs at this point that an important distinction needs to be made between a change agent and a chaos factor, and that Mark LoGuidice should heed it.

Signals remained confusing across the weekend just gone. Your impressions obviously depended on your vantage point. If you were listening to LoGuidice or Trigg on the airwaves, their various efforts obviously did them more harm than good. But if you were one of the many Carlton members who went to Melbourne Park after the game, you were probably pleasantly surprised. All the key personnel were face to face with the membership, and from the discussions I witnessed they gave as good as they got.

This exercise had value. They need to follow it up. Member engagement can sound like the tritest cliché in football, but the whole point of supporting a football club is a sense of belonging. The Carlton tribe has drifted apart since we stopped playing at Princes Park. The club hasn’t done enough about this.

So, for the present, we are left with a muddle seeking to replace a mess. This new regime has big decisions in front of it. There’s no time to waffle about airy concepts. Too many modern Carlton administrations have mistaken noise for action. A lot of powerful egos have their fingerprints on the current mess. Not many of them are keen to plead guilty. Carlton used to think ahead of the pack, and badly needs to rediscover the knack. PowerPoint is unlikely to be much help.


There’s been plenty for Carlton fans to ponder this week after losing to arch-enemy Essendon. You can read more Bluebagger passion and venting of the spleen in equal measure HERE 


About John Butler

John Butler has fled the World's Most Liveable Car Park and now breathes the rarefied air of the Ballarat Plateau. For his sins, he has passed his 40th year as a Carlton member.


  1. The People's Elbow says

    “For those disinclined to wade through the details, The Blue Print’s bottom line…”

    John, there were no details to wade through. The Blue Print was as deep as a car-park puddle!

  2. John Butler says

    I disagree Elbow, I thought The Blue Print used some very nice fonts.

  3. The New Magpies.
    Hell, I had forgotten about them.
    Wasn’t that Ranald McDonald and his mates? And Peter Brock?

  4. John Butler says

    Yep Smoke, Ranald it was. Trade war with Richmond,, sack Hafey, almost bankrupt 3 seasons later…

    Carlton may yet find the comparison all too relevant.

  5. John/Smokie

    I’m pretty sure Ranald wasn’t responsible for replacing Tom Hafey with Mick Erwin half way through the ’82 season. I think John Hickey might’ve been president prior to the election of the McDonald led “New Magpies” at the end of that season.

    No winners in the Trade War between the Pies and the Tiges. Brutal.


  6. John Butler says

    G’day Mick. How’s it going?

    I reckon you’re right. ‘Twas Hickey that did the deed on Hafey. Ranald comes along in ’83.

    Maybe the Blues are conducting a one-sided trade war with the Doggies? If so, after Jones and Tutt, you’re winning.

  7. E.regnans says

    I’ve greatly enjoyed your perspective over recent weeks. (Perhaps too greatly, as black & white vision can distort things).
    I think your unrest is fair enough. And pointing out the pointlessness of management -style box ticking spot on. Reading this I was struck by the similarities with political disillusionment in recent times.
    Obsessions with focus groups and targeted messaging,. Short term political solutions sought rather than long term public policy solutions. All about butt-saving, rather than progressive leadership.

    And the population (voters/ members) can see through it. And quite rightly want more. In each case there’s a tension between taking decisions that may yield unpopular times in the short-term, with the prospect (but no guarantee) of longer term happiness.

    No political party has worked out a way to stay in power since the rise of social media and it’s role in giving voice (predominantly to dissatisfaction). At least they should know by now that short term focus groups, KPIs and grab-bags of electioneering do not work.

    We probably all want a vision of the future. To be sold a believable future. To have someone of conviction, bravery and thought tell us everything will be alright. Someone to make some unpopular decisions to lead us there. To explain their thinking. To lead by principle rather than by popular opinion.

    Loving your work.

  8. John Butler says

    E Reg, can you please come and help us out at Carlton? You’d be close to the last Pie we haven’t approached. And you know we’ll pay you over the odds.

    You’re onto something with the politics angle. Our public discourse has become deeply insincere. Hypocritical would be another applicable word. Everywhere, people saying what they think they’re supposed to say, not what they feel, or know to be right. Social media is as prone to that as anything else, but being unmediated, more honesty slips through.


  9. The Philby says

    Great article, JB.

    As a long-suffering Bluebagger and gainfully employed in a job that does require mastery of the dark arts of PowerPoint and corporate speak, I’d like to think that my bullshit radar is highly fine-tuned when it comes to these sorts of matters. LoGuidice and Trigg don’t exactly inspire confidence. Actually, they make me weep on the inside and wonder what we did to deserve those two.

  10. Nice piece again JB. I am also enjoying your work this season. You don’t seem to be as pissed off as you were last season. I am not sure what to make of SOS in his role. Is he really the best person for the role or is it just because he is a prodigal son. The Giants list is in good shape but as you point out circumstances where very different to what we face. I look forward to reading more as the season progresses.

  11. John Butler says

    Good luck with your next presentation Philby. I’ll presume I’m not invited. :)

    Thanks DJL. The SOS appointment asks the same questions as so many other appointments at Carlton. Did we have a process prior to the appointment? Did we interview alternatives? SOS is friends with LoGuidice, which raises suspicions.

    However the appointment was made, made it is. The question now is whether SOS will be lead a restructure that puts in place better recruiting systems, or is he just going to assume the role of another messiah. We wouldn’t have that question lingering at a club like Hawthorn.


  12. Good morning John.

    Life imitating art – Ranald had a touch of “Ted Parker” about him. Pretty sure he lost some of his own cash during his reign at Victoria Park.

    Carlton-Footscray trade war?

    Both sides learnt their lesson following the doomed Ian Robertson for Max O’Halloran exchange of early ’74. I seem to remember Max & Robbo finishing their (senior) careers with the once powerful, now sadly defunct, Oakleigh Football Club not long after the “blockbuster” deal.

    One request – please go easy on Mick in future Carlton pieces, I like remembering him as the best coach the Dogs had (in my time).

    Take care.


  13. John Butler says

    Mic,, your grasp of the small corners of football history continues to amaze.

    I still haven’t got over us getting Bruce Reid.

    Such are the times, but I have some sympathy for Malthouse. Never thought I be saying that. Whatever misgivings I have about how he’s going at Carlton, it’s obvious the club has been largely responsible for dumping him in the poo.

  14. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Surely MM went into the Carlton gig with his eyes open.

    If he did, then his judgement (of his and/or Carlton’s ability) could be questioned.

    If he didn’t, then his motives (to spite Collingwood?, the coaching games record?) could be questioned.

    Either way, scrutiny can’t be avoided.

  15. John Butler says

    Agreed Swish.

    But don’t forget, we sold ourselves to him under false pretenses. We were supposed to be a finals-ready side looking to go to the next step. As an outsider, he’s entitled to presume that we had some grasp on reality.

  16. John.

    Carlton got/took/received Bruce Reid in exchange for the rights (old Form 4) to Jim Sewell. Sewell was recruited from Old Easts at the start of 1983 and played 76 games (the first 75 in succession) for Footscray.Terrific player at both ends of the ground for the club and was a major force in the clubs resurgence under Bluey Hampshire and Mick in the mid 80’s.

    Reid made 86 appearances for Footscray, 14 short of allowing the Dogs the chance to pick up his boys under the Father/Son rule. Your previous comment would suggest his 33 games in Navy Blue must’ve been forgettable.

    Any suggestions who Carlton would/should consider as the ideal replacement for Mick upon his departure?


  17. JB, no-one’s entitled to believe that anyone at Carlton has recently had a grasp on reality.

  18. John Butler says

    Sadly Budge, that seems more true with each passing year.

    If Carlton is really serious about plans, they should think about pinning this article to the walls at the Center For List Management Excellence –

    And possibly hiring Ms Quayle as a consultant to SOS.

Leave a Comment