Leave the shirt in a better place: reinvention & growth, the All Blacks way

An anniversary passed recently, 16 September 1905, 110 years since the first New Zealand rugby team came to Britain, the Originals, as they are now known. The week in which the 2015 All Blacks beat Argentina in the first match of the recent World Cup marked the anniversary of their predecessors’ 55-4 defeat of Devon in the first game of their tour.

The Originals blazed through Britain, just like the 2015 All Blacks have. In 1905 they scored 976 points and conceded only 59. They bewildered their opponents. They were fitter, stronger, sharper and more scientific. No one had even conceived that it was possible to play the way the All Blacks did, let alone seen it done. They were not used to seeing the ball pass through so many hands, or the manner in which forwards mingled with backs.

Nineteen years later, the 1924 touring All Blacks won all 32 games, scoring 838 points and conceding just 166. They became known as the Invincibles. Current All Blacks coach Steve Hansen can justifiably claim to have carried on the tradition of both the Originals and the Invincibles in England with the recent World Cup victory.

Hansen has made his mark, and the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand in 2017 is likely to be his swansong, having indicated he intends to step down at the end of his contract. In losing only three tests since their 2011 World Cup success, Hansen has taken the team to new heights. However, he will have rebuilding next year following the retirement of six outstanding players – Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu and Conrad Smith.

But Hansen is already looking forward to moulding a new group for the number one team in the world, who were clearly the best team at the World Cup by any measure – physical and mental fitness, coaching and the type of rugby they played. They set new standards by becoming the first team to win back-to-back World Cups. They have kept raising the benchmark, kept improving and taken the game to new levels.

It goes without saying that the All Blacks are going to miss those iconic players – Nonu and Smith have played over 60 games as the centre pairing together. It is almost 800 caps worth of experience in total they will be losing. However for the All Blacks, no one individual is irreplaceable. The same conversations happened after Andrew Mehrtens, Tana Umaga and Zinzan Brooke retired. Someone always comes along, because the culture is one of long-term thinking and planning, always reinventing, creating future All Blacks.

There is some ridiculous talent waiting to come through. Akira Iaone, a number eight, Ardie Savea, the brother of Julian, is an openside with a huge future. Sam Cane, who would be a starter for most other teams, has been groomed in McCaw’s shadow, likewise, Beauden Barrett and Malakai Fekitoa have learnt the ropes from Carter and Nonu. Dan Coles described Keven Mealamu as the player he ‘looks up to’.

By the time the Lions arrive in New Zealand in two years’ time, it will be the likes of Brodie Retallick, Aaron Smith and Nehe Milner-Skudder on the front foot. At the next World Cup in 2019, they will be senior men. These fresh faces are the next generation who will have regenerated the team. The focus is always on the future, the next group of potential world champions is already here, in place. The All Blacks are constantly reinventing.

Players come and go, and yet the All Blacks keep winning. Knowhow and leadership, let alone experience, will be missed badly, but New Zealand prepared for this eventuality almost as soon as the celebrations died down in 2011, and so will overhaul themselves in 2016.

The All Blacks embrace a values-based team ethos that evidences that above all the physical and mental toughness, a progressive, forward looking culture is a key driver of success. Leave the shirt in a better place is one of the values within the organisation culture inherent in the All Blacks’ mindset, which creates this constant reinvention of the successful team.

It’s your obligation and responsibility to add to the legacy – to leave the jersey in a better place. The legacy is more intimidating than any opposition. So the All Blacks invent, reinvent, grow. The same applies to great businesses, past achievements in no way guarantee future success. Enduring companies and individual entrepreneurs earn their longevity through near constant reinvention, stretching to create their next evolution.

The reinvention process is a combination of inner and outer awareness. We need to know what our timescale is for what we’re doing, we need to know how the competencies we’ve built can extend in new directions, and we need to attend to how our business fits into the new world. When we do all three, we can be confident, committed and flexible in the value that we create for customers.

Some reinvention is innovation driven, for example Apple move from desktop computer devices into handheld devices and the iPhone, but the majority is a forced result of changing market structures. For example, there are a lot of forces converging in the car industry right now, including powertrain electrification and trends toward active safety systems, semi-autonomous driving, and vehicle connectivity. Is it an understatement to call this an interesting time?

These technology innovations have turned the industry on its head, with disruption coming from every angle, from the potential ways we fuel our vehicles to the ownership model. We have a whole generation that just wants access to vehicles as opposed to ownership for example, through services such as Uber and Zipcar. Even the dealership model is changing, with Tesla selling directly to consumers.

In terms of connectivity, so much of the technology is being developed outside the auto industry. Whether it’s vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, semi-autonomous and fully autonomous driving, or connecting to the cloud, these are all major disruptions coming fast and furiously.

The reality is that the major car manufacturers will not own, or develop, most of these technologies, so they have to reinvent themselves to be a thoughtful integrator of other peoples’ technologies and understand where they add value. The role of a traditional car manufacturer has changed dramatically to become a part of a mobility ecosystem. In this new world, they need to figure out what they have to own and what they don’t and to be a great integrator of technologies and services.

This ‘reinvention’ shows that it’s not easy to do, and that most reinvention that does occur is involuntary, the inevitable result of massive and painful industry disruption where the market place is reinvented, but with new players. The winds of disruption are howling across the industrial landscape of most Western economies and the ability of incumbent market leaders to defend their positions and build sustainable futures are increasingly fewer and further apart.

As one thinks about the future of Apple, they will continue to innovate from within and enhance their current product and market fit. They will likely enter the world of wearables, cars and maybe the health market in some way. Now add to this the idea of Apple using their cash to build through licensing and acquisitions and buying strategic products that could be sold through their online and physical stores and supported by their great customer experience and you have what I believe could be the next major version of Apple as Apple reinvents itself again.

So from an SME perspective, what are the elements in a reinvention strategy we can take from the All Blacks, Apple and the car industry? Here are my thoughts:

Rebound First and foremost, complaining about your competition or falling away of your traditional customer base won’t help. It only makes things worse and demoralises those around you, and yourself. Today’s laurels are tomorrow’s compost, look forward. What are you aiming for? What does success looks like in 12, 24 and 36 months time? There’s no point in feeling sorry for yourself, reframe your own future.

Restart Forget about how you’ve done business in the past. It was good enough then but it won’t give you the results you want in the future. In order to become the best business you can be, start with a clean sheet of paper. What type of customers would it serve? Why should customers buy from me, and not others?  People get stuck in their own rut doing business the same way.

Rebalance Do you remember the reason you went into business? The end result of your risk taking should be freedom and fulfilment, not continuous hard work and a feeling of déjà vu. Dedicate time to rebalance your focus. If it’s all the business of today, no one is steering towards business of tomorrow. Specify what you should be doing, working ‘on’ the business, and not simply ‘in’, and rebalance your priorities.

Revisit How can you win customers competing against a myriad of others based solely on the lowest price? In the new economy, the old strategy won’t work. Offering the same things every competitor does provides no advantage. Are your business strategy and business model viable in today’s marketplace? Will it build a winning company that works for you? Identify what markets and products will work in the next 12, 24 and 36 months.

Retool What should your business do to make use of technology, to increase efficiency and deliver growth? Use the menu of digital tools to build a greater awareness of your brand and your offerings. Where can you leverage our online business model to greater impact?

Refinance The best businesses are also the best financed. A strong financial foundation provides the platform to innovate, and invest for growth. Now is the time to take a hard look at your finances, your financial systems, and your cash requirements. Focus on managing your cash and use this information for strategy and pricing decisions.

Restructure Most companies use the same organisation chart for years without ever changing it. But over time, the old structure doesn’t work as business and customer demands change. Perhaps it is time to restructure and take a look at job roles, responsibilities, etc. What does the structure need to be to deliver the success desired?

Refocus What do you do differently to attract customers to buy your services? How do you gather new fans? Have you changed your target market to expand your customer base? It is time to refocus your customer strategy and look for new customers in new markets by offering something exciting that gets customers paying you for the value you create?.

Rebuild Take a fresh look at your overall company branding, image, logo and website. Do they create any excitement? Do they give out the right impression to your customers? Does it promote technical expertise and value? Rebuild your marketing, almost as a relaunch.

Revamp What business routines do you call over and over, year after year? Have you called any new plays lately? Your management style must be agile, what innovations have you introduced to refresh the business and shock customers (in the nicest possible way?) Think inside out, think like a customer.

Refresh How much time do you give your team to training to renew or develop new skills? Identify the training and development needs for each member of staff to get them performing at a higher level. Use personal coaching to stimulate and to get their heads up and seek to perform the best they can be.

Relive Are you living your dream with your business? Why not? Never forget your dream. Write down specifically what you want your business to do for you personally in the next 5 to 10 years. Next decide what you must do to turn your vision into reality. Make it personal, so your business enables you to work to live, not live to work.

Begin reinventing by asking the right questions, you must be inquisitive and open to the challenges ahead. The following questions can help:

  • What fundamental consumer needs have you been serving? What new experiences can address those needs?
  • How will you identify your core strengths? What is the best way to increase investments in those true differentiators?
  • In what ways can you identify new potential sources of value, and where in emerging ecosystems should you engage?
  • What can you do to assess current skill levels and capabilities objectively? How should you acquire new skills to fill gaps?
  • What sorts of reinvention torchbearers already exist in your organisation? What can you do to incorporate their influence into strategy and education?

The reinvention of our business life means marching off the edge of our existing maps. It’s a challenge to create new opportunities through reinvention, but don’t let yourself be put in the position where you fall into the complacency or ignorance trap, and forced into the reinvention game to survive – like the large supermarkets now responding to the low-cost providers.

Be agile, embrace the need for change and take a lesson from the All Blacks – go again when you’re on top of your game. Be next-in-line like the All Blacks reinvent, from the Originals, to the Invincibles to the World Champions of 2015, and you won’t go far wrong.

Richie McCaw: thinking correctly under pressure

New Zealand reached their second Rugby World Cup final in a row at the weekend due to their experience, discipline and composure in the second-half, beating South Africa 20-18 in an epic slog in Saturday’s semi-final. The All Blacks were five points behind at half-time with a man in the sin-bin as four penalties from Handre Pollard cancelled out Jerome Kaino’s early try.

As coach Steve Hansen said, We had moments where we had to keep that self-belief. Then in those moments it’s just about the process. It becomes the norm. It’s a learned skill and self-belief is massive.

The All Blacks, aiming to become the first nation to retain the Webb Ellis Cup, trailed 12-7 at the break. They returned to the pitch five minutes early for the start of the second half, and captain Richie McCaw led an on-pitch discussion in a team huddle. The television cameras showed it was an intense talk from McCaw, animated, direct and composed. McCaw’s eyes were filled with passion, concentration and a facial expression that simply said, follow me. It was one of the most important team talks of his life.

Immediately Hansen’s team tightened up, as the immaculate Dan Carter’s 45th-minute drop-goal rolled momentum in their favour to set up a brutal second-half encounter. The game swung in the 20 minutes after half-time, New Zealand beginning that period five points down and with Kaino off the pitch, but ending it five points up and with Springbok wing Bryan Habana in the sin-bin instead.

A five-point deficit at the break, nine penalties conceded, a key man in the sin-bin. All other teams would have worried at that point. Most would have felt a little shiver of panic: we’re not going to mess this up, are we? What happens if this stays the same and we can’t knock them backwards? This All Blacks collective is not most teams. When you have lost just three games in four years, panic and self-doubt is not your immediate thought.

So it was once again. Out they came, into the torrential rain and cold of a proper English autumn evening, and went at the problem with the poise of men who simply knew what they had to do. The psychology and discipline of thinking was again summed up by Hansen: We talked about it at half-time. We talked about keeping composure and talked about winning the first 10 minutes. With 14 men.

Dan Carter’s decision-making and kicking was once again peerless, his curling a conversion through the downpour and over the posts from an angle that offered him almost nothing was the moment for me that you knew this was their day. In that twenty-minute period from 40 minutes to 60 the game was wrestled away from the Springboks.

The second-half was a masterpiece of the little things done well, the Forwards hanging on to a slippery ball under pressure, Backs running intelligently, sucking in one defender and drawing another before off-loading with a simple, safe pass to hands.

And the composure in the crescendo, still the right decisions made with the noise deafening in the stadium and the anxiety of the occasion ramping up as the Springboks clawed their way back to within two points.

It was the decision-making, following good habits and knowing what to do under pressure that showed clearly the All Blacks were the masters of their game. When Carter chased back half the length of the pitch to snuff out the threat created by De Allende’s sharp kick deep into the All Blacks half, never appearing to hurry even with Pietersen bearing down on the ball, not diving on it in desperation or hacking it straight into the stands but clipping it away on the bounce as if the pitch were dry and this just another game, that made you realise they are champions.

It was there in the Forwards punching their united physicality into the Springboks’ guts with perfectly-timed sets and drives in scrums, rucks and then mauls to dissipate any South African momentum. And it was there in the final 10 minutes, the lead still so slender, never losing possession, never ceding territory, never giving a sniff. Just thinking correctly under pressure.

New Zealand made sure the last twelve minutes passed with no further scoring, and a shot at becoming the first three-time champions. Under slate-grey skies and in unrelenting rain, with just two points between the sides as they went toe to toe for the final 10 minutes.

Having spent half-time regrouping in the rain under the grip of McCaw, they showed grit to go alongside the guile that has led many to call this All Blacks side the best ever. Great teams have to come from behind sometimes. Great teams need great captains.

Everyone faces those pinch-point situations when the heat is on – from making a critical decision in-the-moment at a meeting, to keeping a cool head in the rugby scrum – those times when you need to function correctly under pressure. The reality is that most people fail in extreme situations. They choke, they get stage fright and their astute, high-wire decision-making skills fail them.

The All Blacks regrouped at the start of the second half due to captain Richie McCaw’s mentality and call to arms. Regarded as the greatest rugby player of all time, his debut for New Zealand was against Ireland in 2001, aged just 20, and despite his first touch of the ball resulting in a knock-on, he was awarded Man of the Match. He was subsequently selected as New Zealand’s first choice openside flanker for the 2003 World Cup and became a regular selection, only missing a few games due to reoccurring concussions.

In 2006 he was appointed All Blacks captain. After defeat in the 2007 World Cup quarter-finals, 18-20 versus France, his captaincy came under criticism. It was New Zealand’s earliest exit from a World Cup. An emotional McCaw could not hide his disappointment at the after-match press conference: If I knew the answers we would have sorted it out. We will be thinking about it for a long time. He was accused of not inspiring his team, lacking the ability to change when plan A was not working and not providing leadership on the field.

But he learnt from his mistakes and during the 2011 World Cup tournament, McCaw inspired his teammates and the nation, playing on virtually one leg after suffering a debilitating ankle injury. On 23 October 2011, McCaw led his team to the World Champions title, beating France 8–7 in the final.

In 2012, after the win against South Africa, McCaw became the first rugby union player to win 100 tests – while having only lost 12 games. McCaw, quite incredibly, achieved 100 test wins out of 112 tests played, a staggering 89.28% winning ratio – he has been on the winning side in 9 out of every 10 tests he has played. He’s also the most capped All Blacks captain.

McCaw’s record is as astounding as it is remarkable. His leadership is unquestionable, his playing ability is envied and judged to be the epitome of an openside flanker. McCaw is always there in the mix, leading by being there right on the shoulder of a teammate in the thick of the action.

Being captain in the frenetic and unrelenting pace of international rugby, demands discipline, clarity and focus as we saw at the weekend, so what are McCaw’s key attributes and traits as captain that we can take as leadership attributes in today’s commercial environment?

Mental strength & emotional discipline The captain needs to remain focused and alert whilst thinking and making decision under pressure during a game, so that he makes the right decisions at the right time. This requires considerable mental fortitude.

Some decisions will not be clear-cut. It is during critical situations that your team will look to you for guidance and you may be forced to make a quick decision. As a leader, it’s important to be lucid. Don’t immediately choose the first or easiest possibility, and be emotionally disciplined. Fire in the belly, but ice in the brain is a useful maxim here.

Emotional discipline is important. As a role model, the example set by the captain must meet every expectation he has of the players. For example, if the captain becomes angry with the referee and constantly questions his decisions, then he cannot expect his players to accept refereeing decisions themselves. A loss of emotional control will affect timing, co-ordination and the ability to read the game.

A leader creates individuals and defines the team A team executes plays as a unit, they should function as one. The captain exerts the effort to organise, reminding teammates their respective roles in the team. He studies his teammates’ skills, he recognises what they are capable of doing and utilises his teammates’ abilities. He ensures the right people are in the right seats on the bus.

Leading the charge from the front is one aspect of leadership, but success is ultimately down to teamwork so it is essential to creating an organised and efficient business team via delegation. If you don’t learn to trust your team with your vision, you might never progress to the next stage. It’s a fine balance, but one that will have a huge impact on the productivity of your business.

A leader should be visible to the team. Visibility clearly shows that you care and are approachable, it enables you to always know what is going on and it lets teammates know that you are ready to join in and help if needed, and be part of the team – but delegate, don’t hog the remote control!

The leader creates the team spirit A team can only work as one effectively if they maintain an environment free from individual tensions. Your ability to get everyone working and pulling together is essential to your success. Even the greatest leader cannot lead in a vacuum.

Harnessing and channelling the energies of a coherent and dedicated team is the only true path to success. A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.

Positive mind set and winning attitude: lead by example Morale is linked to success, and it’s your job as the team leader to instill motivation by positive energy and attitudes, and a winning belief, especially when times are tough. A leader is a dealer in hope – keep the belief.

Good teams have to come from behind sometimes. They know what to do. There may be times where the future looks rough and things aren’t going to plan. Part of your job as a leader is to put out fires, assure everyone that setbacks are natural and get focus on the bigger picture. As the leader, by staying calm and confident, you will help keep the team feeling the same. Remember, your team will take cues from you. Inspiring your team to see the vision of successes to come is vital. As McCaw shows, a great leader’s courage to fulfil his vision comes from passion, not position.

This wonderful All Blacks team has plenty about them in terms of talent, skills and tactical nous, but so much more besides in terms of mental toughness, resilience and the ability to turn up when it matters as they showed in the semi-final. It is undoubtedly in them all, but in that moment of potential crisis, it took McCaw’s leadership to remind them and give them a clear head. He was utterly relentless against the Boks at the weekend. When it comes to drive and desire, his levels are off the scale.

Nothing gives you more advantage in the heat of competition as to remain unruffled and think clearly. Composure is the product of an ambitious mentality envisioning the outcome we would aspire. It requires persistence, vision, self-belief and patience. Being persistent requires constant thinking and developing an agile plan to accomplish our goals as the situation changes – a plan doesn’t require detailed steps, rather it guides our actions to ensure we are always progressing towards accomplishing our goals.

As in sport, it’s the same in business, the ability to remain composed is vital, the capacity to make the right decisions when under pressure differentiates leaders in good times and bad. Composure is a telling factor in performance whether it contributes to the scoreboard or the bottom-line. Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm, but in the frenzy of the storm, holding your nerve, keeping focus and stopping the blood rushing to the head enable you to put your training into practice.

I’d love to know what McCaw said at half-time as the team stood in the pouring rain, a man down and losing 7-12. I’m pretty sure the four points of his leadership attributes I’ve detailed above were vital elements of his call to action. McCaw shows a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. Their responsibility is getting all the players playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back.

Next Saturday afternoon, 4pm, put yourself in that dressing room, as the referee knocks on the door, game time gentlemen. The World Cup Final. For Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu, next week’s showpiece final against Australia may signal the end of the international road for all four of them as they retire at their peak. They will all look to McCaw as he leads the team out. I’m sure he will set the call: make it count, and take control where it matters most: inside your own head.

Like England rugby & the All Blacks – does your organisation have a heart beat?

Saturday’s Six Nation’s final day was surely the championship’s most thrilling ever. The sight of Graham Rowntree shaking his cauliflower ears in dismay at the lack of English defence probably left the grizzled old retired prop secretly wishing someone would just stick the ball up his jumper and make a cautious three feet.

The stats: 221 points scored across the three matches, the most in a single weekend; 27 tries, run in from deep and wide and everywhere in between; England’s record score against France, Ireland’s biggest away win, the most tries Wales have scored in one championship half. This was glorious chaos.

At various points in the afternoon England were first in the table, second, third, briefly fourth, back to third and then finally into second again, another metre on a rolling maul away from victory.

And the crescendo began, go down our end and score, we go down your end and score. This just wasn’t Northern Hemisphere rugby, too predictable, too reliant on muscle and penalties. It was a wonderful spectacle, offloads everywhere, penalties tapped and gone before the sound of the whistle had reached your ears.

England’s anguish, despite a 55-35 win against France, left them reflecting that perhaps the championship should have been secured. They lost two line-outs on the French five-metre line when the opposition were spent, lost James Haskell to the sin-bin for a daft trip to cede momentum, and points and at the death seemed certain with a drive over the line only to lose control of the ball with the line under their toes.

There will be concerns about a lack of ruthlessness, a fallibility under pressure, a lack of precision, patience and discipline too in what became an utterly insane try fest, a post-mortem sounds harsh, but is this a team that can seriously make the most of home advantage and secure a second World Cup in 12 years? They can play some great rugby with a combination of power and pace, but are they clinical enough, robust enough and have a belief that anything is possible?

Small margins are important. These are the things that England will work on, but they can hold their heads high and go forward with real confidence – probably until we encounter the All Blacks, current World champions, who embrace a values-based team culture that evidences that above all the physical and mental toughness, team culture is a key driver of success.

Author James Kerr documented a year living with the All Blacks in Legacy, a compelling book that delivers pragmatic and powerful lessons for today’s business leaders from studying the All Blacks’ success:

How do you create a high performance culture? How do you maintain world-class standards? How do you handle pressure? Kerr created ‘The First XV’ – 15 All Black principles, based on the team being fifteen players who work together towards a common purpose – to win a game of rugby – and the principles outlined work in the same way for business.

I Sweep the Sheds Never be too big to do the small things that need to be done

Before leaving the dressing room at the end of a game, all the players stop and tidy up. They literally and figuratively ‘sweep the sheds’, an example of personal humility, a cardinal All Blacks value. They believe it is impossible to achieve success without having your feet planted firmly on the ground.

II Go for the Gap When you’re on top of your game, change your game

The philosophy and focus on continual improvement and continuous learning leaves no room for complacency. A winning organisation is one in which each individual takes responsibility for both cultural and commercial outcomes, and even when at the pinnacle of success, look to go again.

III Play with Purpose Ask ‘Why?’

When current captain Richie McCaw got his first All Blacks shirt, he spent a minute with his head buried in the jersey. The person with a narrow vision sees a narrow horizon. The person with a wider vision sees a wider horizon.

Better people make better All Blacks is a core belief, and understanding Why? identifies the purpose of being an All Black. The power of purpose galvanises individuals and alignment in group behaviours. What’s the purpose of your business?

IV Pass the Ball Leaders create leaders

A central belief is the development of leaders and the nurturing of character off the field, to deliver results on it, so that by game day the team consists of one captain, and 15 leaders.

Ownership, accountability and trust. Shared responsibility means shared ownership, a sense of inclusion unites individuals, and collaboration means advancement as a team.

V Create a Learning Environment Leaders are teachers

Former head coach Graham Henry made pre-match time the team’s own, as part of his devolved leadership plan. He left the players alone as a group to do what they had to do.

Mastery, autonomy and purpose are three drivers of All Blacks success – defined as modest improvement, consistently done. For the All Blacks, leaders are learners, are teachers, as Jack Hobbs, former captain said: Get up everyday and be the best you can be. Never let the music die in you.

VI No Dickheads Follow the spearhead

In Maori, whanau means ‘extended family’, symbolised by the spearhead. Though a spearhead has three tips, to be effective all of its force must move in one direction.

The All Blacks select on character over talent, which means some some promising players never pull on the black jersey – because they don’t have the right character, they’re considered d*******s, their inclusion would be detrimental to the whanau. No one is bigger than the team. The team always comes first.

VII Embrace Expectations Aim for the highest cloud

A culture of expectation enables the asking and re-asking fundamental questions: how can we do better? Taking risks and responsibilities is one of the skills you learn from rugby, a contest of strength, skill and intelligence.

Judge yourself against the best, create for yourself a narrative of unrealistic ambitions and benchmark yourself to a ‘Personal Best’. Make it an epic of what is possible, literally reach for the sky.

VIII Train to Win Practice under pressure

Brad Thorn’s mantra, Champions Do Extra, helped him become one of the most successful All Blacks’ captains. The philosophy means finding incremental ways to do more by preparation and practice. There’s a Maori saying: the way the sapling is shaped determines how the tree grows.

The foundation for success on a rugby field is built in training. You win games in training. The ugly truth is that in most cases you get the results of your weekly training efforts and commitments in the game at the weekend.

All Blacks run on individual integrity, total accountability, by actions not words. No one is ever late for training. A collection of talented individuals will fail without personal discipline. Ultimately character triumphs over talent, and for the All Blacks it is about training to win, practising under intensity to replicate playing conditions.

In business, training is often seen as a soft option, a day out of the business. Make practice your test, make it intense, it should be central to your culture. Training with intensity accelerates personal growth.

IX Keep a Blue Head Control your attention

One minute can decide the outcome of a game, as it can the outcome of a business situation. Avoiding poor decision making under pressure is vital.

Pressure is expectation, scrutiny and consequence. Under pressure, your thinking can be diverted. Bad decisions are made because of an inability to handle pressure at a pivotal moment. The All Blacks have a framework to think clearly and correctly under pressure:

  • Red Head, a state in which you are off task, tight, results oriented, panicked and ineffective.
  • Blue Head, is an optimal state in which you are performing to your best ability, expressive, calm, in the moment.

In moments of pressure, the All Blacks use triggers to switch from Red to Blue. Richie McCaw grasps his wrists and stamps his feet, literally grounding himself, triggers to achieve clarity and accuracy, so he can perform under pressure.

To act rather than react, move from volatility and an ambiguous space to having mental clarity, control your attention. Clear thought, clear talk, clear task is McCaw’s mantra.

X Know Thyself Keep it real

Honesty drives better performance, attributed to Socrates, the phrase know thy self, is a key tenet of All Blacks philosophy, believing that development of the authentic self is essential to performance.

The All Blacks’ socialising deliberately hark back to the local club rugby, reminding them of why and how they came to be here. No international superstar status, they simply keep it real. Better people make better All Blacks, is their credo.

XI Sacrifice Find something you would die for and give your life to it

Focus is vital, and there is no paradox – play to win, don’t play not to lose. – Don’t be a good All Black, be a great All Black.

Give everything you have – then a little bit more. What do you offer the team? What are you prepared to sacrifice? Champions give the extra effort and sacrifice to do something extraordinary. Treading water is drowning. What is the extra that will make your business extraordinary?

XII Invent your own language Sing your world into existence

There is a ‘black book’ for All Blacks’ eyes only. Its collected wisdom in the form of aphorisms still informs the culture:

  • No one is bigger than the team
  • Leave the jersey in a better place
  • Leave it all out on the field

It is a system of meaning that everyone understands, a language and vocabulary, a set of beliefs that bind the group. These have subsequently evolved to Humility, Excellence, Respect as the three words at the core of the All Blacks ethos.

Develop strong resonant values using a common language in your business, it connects personal meaning to the business vision of the future.

XIII Ritualise to Actualise Create a culture

A key factor in the All Blacks success was the development of the new haka, Kapa o Pango. Rituals reflect, remind and reinforce the belief system to reignite their collective identity and purpose.

In business, team spirit, pride and respect create effective relationship bonds. Building a great team requires individuals who enjoy a deep degree of trust in one another, the trust that colleagues are not just dedicated but also up to the task.

Au, au, aue bā! – It’s our time! It’s our moment! the final line of the haka.

XIV Be a Good Ancestor Plant trees you’ll never see

The All Blacks task is to represent all those who have come before them, and all those who follow, a Maori concept called whakapapa – the rope of mankind, an unbroken chain of humans standing arm in arm from the beginning of time to the end of eternity. As the sun shines on you for this moment, this is your time, it’s your obligation and responsibility to add to the legacy – to leave the jersey in a better place.

In 1999 Adidas ran a commercial starting with Charlie Saxton, then the oldest living former All Blacks captain, pulling a jersey over his head and is ‘reincarnated’ as Fred Allen, the greatest All Blacks captain. In chronological and successive jerseys it created a lineage of leadership to the then captain, Taine Rendell. The legacy is more intimidating than any opposition. This captures the essence of leading for sustainability.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gAiOkMGx4g

Take stewardship of your business as responsibility to add to the legacy. Be a good ancestor, this is your footprint, your time in the business.

XV Write Your Legacy This is your time

When a player makes the All Blacks, they’re given a small black book. The first page shows a jersey from the 1905 Originals, the first tour. On the next page is another jersey, that of the 1924 Invincibles, and thereafter, pages of other jerseys until the present day, and pages with heroes, values, the ethos. The rest of the pages are blank, waiting to be filled. By the player.

Those organisations that know what they stand for – and most importantly, why – consistently outperform those who are just going through the motions.

The First XV shows how the All Blacks values-led, purpose-driven high-performance culture uses the power of storytelling to give it resonance. The result of this extraordinary environment is extraordinary results. In business, if we align our people, resources and effort around a compelling narrative, and reinforce that story through leadership, communication and training, the results will come, shaped by the desire to achieve and the desire to be part of something special.

Often the numbers people win because they have hard metrics. However, the All Blacks narrative proves that the soft stuff delivers hard results. Culture creates competitive advantage – purpose, vision and the human aspects of your business architecture will deliver better business – and better people. Better people make better All Blacks – but they also make better businessmen, fathers, brothers, and friends.

The All Blacks remind us that We are better together than we are apart. If only we could capture this, and replicate Richie McCaw’s spirit of the All Blacks in our own organisations: When you score a try for the All Blacks, you do it for the team, because the silver fern on the front of the shirt, and the shirt itself, are more important than the name on the team sheet.

Many of us are more capable than some of us, but none of us is as capable as all of us. England showed this on Saturday, the All Blacks show it in every game. Make sure your organisation has this heart beat too.

First XV – lessons from the All Blacks

England blew the Six Nations title race wide open as they fought back to edge one of the great Twickenham battles, beating Ireland 13-10 on Saturday. Owen Farrell landed the conversion after Danny Care’s try, before a titanic last quarter saw both teams reduced to stumbling exhaustion by the relentless pace.

With both teams attacking in waves against remorseless defences, Ireland could not work the break they needed as the seconds ran out. It meant there would be no happy ending for Brian O’Driscoll in his 139th Test, on his last appearance at this stadium, and no Grand Slam to garland his final season.

England are shaping up well ahead to the 2015 World Cup, but the peerless All Blacks stand in their way – and three tests in Auckland, Dunedin and Hamilton on June 7, 14 and 21 this summer will show how close to the World Champions we are.

The All Blacks have lost once in their last 35 games. Undefeated in over 75% of their international matches over the last 100 years, what sets them apart is their consistency – their ability to win and keep on winning. But how do they do it? What’s their secret? What is their competitive advantage?

The All Blacks’ values-based culture is evidence that team culture is a key driver of success, a conclusion from James Kerr, who accessed their inner sanctum and produced Legacy – a compelling book that delivers 15 pragmatic and powerful lessons for today’s business leaders from studying the All Blacks:

How do you create a high performance culture? How do you maintain world-class standards? How do you handle pressure? What is the secret of sustained success? What do you leave behind you after you’re gone?

Why 15? Because a rugby team has fifteen players who work together towards a common purpose, to win, and the principles outlined in Legacy work in the same way for business.

The First XV

I Sweep the Sheds Never be too big to do the small things that need to be done

Before leaving the dressing room at the end of a game, some of the top players in the team – including Richie McCaw and Dan Carter – stop and tidy up. They literally and figuratively ‘sweep the sheds’. It is an example of personal humility, a cardinal All Blacks value.  Though it might seem strange for a team of imperious dominance, humility is core to their culture. The All Blacks believe that it’s impossible to achieve success without having your feet planted firmly on the ground.

Humility is taught in all things. It is an attractive but uncommon virtue in business.

II Go for the Gap When you’re on top of your game, change your game

It is the philosophy and focus on continual improvement and continuous learning environment that is at the core of All Black culture. When you’re on top of your game, change your game. Adaptation is not a reaction, but an everyday action.

A winning organisation is an environment of professional and personal development in which each individual takes responsibility and shares ownership. Build the ability to change your cultural and commercial processes. Even when at the pinnacle of success, look to regenerate

III Play with Purpose Ask ‘Why?’

When Richie McCaw got his first All Blacks shirt, he spent a minute with his head buried in the jersey. The person with a narrow vision sees a narrow horizon. The person with a wider vision sees a wider horizon.

Better people make better All Blacks is the core belief, and understanding Why? identifies the purpose of being an All Black. Our fundamental human drive comes from within, from intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivations. The power of purpose galvanises individuals, and alignment in group behaviours. What’s the purpose of your business?

IV Pass the Ball Leaders create leaders

Central to the All Blacks belief is the development of leaders and the nurturing of character off the field, to deliver results on it. This involves a literal and metaphorical handing over of responsibility from management to players, so that by game day the team consists of one captain, and 15 leaders.

Ownership, accountability and trust. Shared responsibility in your business means shared ownership, a sense of inclusion means uniting individuals, and more collaboration means advancement as a team.

V Create a Learning Environment Leaders are teachers

Former head coach Graham Henry made pre-match time the team’s own, as part of his devolved leadership plan. He left the players alone as a group to do what they had to do.

Mastery, autonomy and purpose are three drivers of All Blacks success, where success is defined as modest improvement, consistently done. For the All Blacks, leaders are learners, are teachers, as Jack Hobbs, former captain said: Get up everyday and be the best you can be. Never let the music die in you.

VI No Dickheads Follow the spearhead

In Maori, whanau means ‘extended family’. It’s symbolised by the spearhead. Though a spearhead has three tips, to be effective all of its force must move in one direction. The All Blacks select on character over talent, which means some of New Zealand’s most promising players never pull on the black jersey – because they don’t have the right character, they’re considered d*******s, their inclusion would be detrimental to the whanau. Like all the great teams the All Blacks seek to replace the ‘me’ with the ‘we’. No one is bigger than the team. The team always comes first.

Individual commitment to a group effort is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilisation work. You need to build and maintain a high level of trust in your business, so that individuals connect together and strive towards a common goal. If that is lacking, the competition will punish you.

VII Embrace Expectations Aim for the highest cloud

A culture of expectation enables the asking and re-asking fundamental questions, in order to achieve clarity. Humility allows us ask a simple question: how can we do better?

Go Forward! Recast your challenges into proactive goals. You have to be pro-active at all times, taking risks and responsibilities is one of the many skills you learn from rugby. This sounds militaristic, but in its core it is true, rugby, at the end of the day, is a contest of strength, skill and intelligence.

Judge yourself against the best, create for yourself a narrative of extreme, even unrealistic ambitions and benchmark yourself to the ultimate. Make it an epic of what is possible.

VIII Train to Win Practice under pressure

Brad Thorn’s mantra, Champions Do Extra, helped him become one of the most successful players in rugby history.  The philosophy simply means finding incremental ways to do more by preparation and practice. There’s a Maori saying: the way the sapling is shaped determines how the tree grows.

All foundation for success on a rugby field is built in training. You win games in training. The ugly truth is that in most cases you get the results of your weekly training efforts and commitments in the game at the weekend.

The All Blacks run on individual integrity. This means total accountability, and by actions not words. No one is ever late for training, players set their watches ten minutes fast. A collection of talented individuals will fail without personal discipline. Ultimately character triumphs over talent, and for the All Blacks it is about training to win, practising under intensity to replicate playing conditions.

In business, training is often seen as a soft option, a day out of the business. Make practice your test, make it intense, it should be central to your culture. Training with intensity accelerates personal growth.

IX Keep a Blue Head Control your attention

One minute can decide the outcome of a game, as it can the outcome of a business situation. Avoiding poor decision making under pressure is vital.

Pressure is expectation, scrutiny and consequence. Under pressure, your thinking can be diverted. Bad decisions are made because of an inability to handle pressure at a pivotal moment.

In 2010, founding partners of Gazing Performance, Ceri Evans and Renzie Hanham, assisted in mentally preparing the All Blacks, providing a framework to think clearly and correctly under pressure:

  • Red Head is a state in which you are off task, tight, results oriented, panicked and ineffective.
  • Blue Head, on the other hand, is an optimal state in which you are on task and performing to your best ability, expressive, calm, in the moment.

In moments of pressure, the All Blacks use triggers to switch from Red to Blue. Richie McCaw grasps his wrists and stamps his feet, literally grounding himself. Using these triggers, the players aim to achieve clarity and accuracy, so they can perform under pressure.

To act rather than react, move from volatility and an ambiguous space to having mental clarity, control your attention. Clear thought, clear talk, clear task is McCaw’s mantra.

X Know Thyself Keep it real

Honesty drives better performance for the All Blacks: Honesty=Integrity=Authenticity=Resilience=Performance

Often attributed to Socrates, the phrase know thy self, is a key tenet of the All Blacks philosophy, believing that development of the authentic self is essential to performance.

High performance teams promote a culture of honesty, integrity, authenticity. The All Blacks’ socials deliberately hark back to the local rugby culture each player came from, reminding them of why and how they came to be here. No international superstar status, they simply keep it real. Better people make better All Blacks, is an All Black credo.

XI Sacrifice Find something you would die for and give your life to it

Focus is vital for the All Blacks, and there is no paradox – play to win, don’t play not to lose. Don’t be a good All Black, be a great All Black.

As highlighted earlier, Champions do extra, give everything you have – then a little bit more. What do you offer the team? What are you prepared to sacrifice? Champions give the extra, discretionary effort and sacrifice it takes to do something extraordinary. Give your best, treading water is drowning. What is the extra that will make your business extraordinary?

XII Invent your own language Sing your world into existence

There is a ‘black book’, which was for a time, for All Blacks eyes only. Its collected wisdom in the form of aphorisms still informs the culture:

  • No one is bigger than the team
  • Leave the jersey in a better place
  • It’s not good enough to be good, it’s about being great
  • Leave it all out on the field
  • It’s not the All Black jersey, it’s the All Black man
  • Front up – or fuck off!

It was a system of meanings that everyone understood, a language and vocabulary, a set of beliefs that bind the group together. These have subsequently evolved to Humility, Excellence, Respect as the three words at the core of the All Blacks ethos.

Apple under Steve Jobs had the same approach to developing a credo:

  • Stay hungry stay foolish
  • Why join the navy when you can be a pirate
  • Insanely great
  • Think different

Develop strong resonant values using a common language in your business, it connects personal meaning to the business vision of the future.

XIII Ritualise to Actualise Create a culture

A key factor in the All Blacks success was the development of the new haka, Kapa o Pango. Rituals reflect, remind and reinforce the belief system to reignite their collective identity and purpose.

In business, team spirit, pride and respect create effective relationship bonds. Building a great team requires individuals who enjoy a deep degree of trust in one another, the trust that colleagues are not just dedicated but also up to the task.

Au, au, aue bā! – It’s our time! It’s our moment! the final line of the haka. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=We77jlAHzI8

XIV Be a Good Ancestor Plant trees you’ll never see

The All Blacks task is to represent all those who have come before them, and all those who follow.

There’s a fundamental Maori spiritual concept called whakapapa – the rope of mankind, an unbroken chain of humans standing arm in arm from the beginning of time to the end of eternity. As the sun shines on you for this moment, this is your time, it’s your obligation and responsibility to add to the legacy – to leave the jersey in a better place.

In 1999 Adidas ran a commercial starting with Charlie Saxton, then the oldest living former All Blacks captain, pulling a jersey over his head and is ‘reincarnated’ as Fred Allen, the greatest All Blacks captain and coach. In chronological and successive jerseys it crated a lineage of leadership to the then captain, Taine Rendell. The legacy is more intimidating than any opposition. This captures the essence of leading for sustainability.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gAiOkMGx4g

Take stewardship of your business as responsibility to add to the legacy. Be a good ancestor, this is your footprint, your time in the business.

XV Write Your Legacy This is your time

When a player makes the All Blacks, they’re given a small black book. The first page shows a jersey from the 1905 Originals, the first tour. On the next page is another jersey, that of the 1924 Invincibles, and thereafter, pages of other jerseys until the present day, and pages with principles, heroes, values, the ethos, the character of the team. And then the rest of the pages are blank, waiting to be filled. By the player.

Those organisations that know what they stand for – and most importantly, why – consistently outperform those who are just going through the motions. They create better commercial results, generate more sales, deliver higher shareholder value, attract better talent, and retain it.

The First XV shows how the All Blacks hold a values-led, purpose-driven high-performance culture and use the power of storytelling to give it personal resonance. The result of this extraordinary environment is extraordinary results.

In business, if we align our people, resources and effort around a singular and compelling central narrative, and reinforce that story through communications, resourcing and training, the results will come.

If your leadership focuses on culture, vision, identity – the ‘who are we, what are we really all about, and how do we live that with integrity’, you will create a special business – the competitive and the collaborative. The desire to achieve and the desire to be part of something bigger.

It’s easy to be cynical about the soft stuff – story and values and vision and purpose – compared to shareholder returns or sales figures. Often the numbers people win because they have hard metrics. However, the All Blacks narrative proves that the soft stuff delivers hard results. The culture creates competitive advantage. By focussing on story and purpose and vision and the human aspects of your business architecture you’re able to deliver better business – and better people.

Better people make better All Blacks – but they also make better businessmen, fathers, brothers, and friends.

 

From the All Blacks XV to Camp Bastion medics, what makes a breakthrough team?

The current All Blacks might be the best rugby team in history, having just completed a 100% record of 14 wins from 14 Tests in 2013. This encompasses all the things New Zealand rugby holds dearest: work hard, play to the whistle, believe in yourself, believe in your team-mates and, as current captain Richie McCaw says, never, ever, give up.

They clinched their final victory, 24-22, against Ireland in dramatic fashion last weekend. The hosts appeared on course to win their first Test over New Zealand in 109 years up until the final movement of the game, having taken the lead after four minutes and leading 19-0 after 18 minutes. The Irish had stormed into a 22-7 half-time lead but they failed to score a point in the second-half.

At 22-17, a missed penalty by Jonathan Sexton four minutes from time ultimately cost them their first ever victory over the All Blacks. At 80 minutes, full-time, they were still in the lead as they played keep-ball in the New Zealand half. Time was up, and they were keeping the ball in short phases. All they had to do was get the ball back from a tackle and kick it out into history.

But no. The referee penalised prop Jack McGrath for going off his feet and coming in from the side at a ruck. The penalty was 15m inside the New Zealand half. The All Blacks, as you would expect, showed their composure, tapped and moved up the field in progressive phases – 22 in total – until 92 seconds after the final hooter, far out on the left Dane Coles popped a pass to Ryan Crotty who had an overlap and the bearded centre scored. 22-all.

The try was analysed for nearly five minutes by the third match official, who eventually ruled Coles’ pass wasn’t forward. Aaron Cruden lined up the conversion, the Irish charged and Cruden missed. The referee judged that the Irish charge was early, which clearly it was, and so he ordered another kick without an Irish charge. This time, on 83 minutes and some seconds, number 10 Cruden nailed his second chance, and the All Blacks had won 24-22. A dramatic four minutes. It was the first time the All Blacks led in a breathtaking Test. Check out some the highlights:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFjprSZuyxU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSfsPis-so0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_tY8uaEAX8

So where do the 2013 All Blacks team rank in history, to be considered as contenders as the best team of all time? There have been two particular earlier tours that set the standard. The 1905 All Blacks, nicknamed The Originals, swept through Britain and Europe displaying a style of rugby that took the other nations by surprise, playing 35 matches and losing only one, 0-3 to Wales. New Zealand’s long history of innovation in the game really began here, as the team showed a combination of discipline, tactics, ferocity and grace. The ball was kept in hand, and passed for the fastest to run with, rather than kicked for them to chase. Shots at goal were declined in favour of spinning it wide or crashing it forward. Fear of the black jersey was born.

The 1924 team was dubbed The Invincibles, because they won every game.They boasted a strong forward pack which included the physical Brownlie brothers, a mastermind centre in Mark Nicholls, arguably their greatest-ever midfielder in Bert Cooke and the incomparable George Nepia at full-back. Nepia, aged 19 and who played in all 30 matches, is still regarded as the greatest player not just of that era but of all time, and set a standard for future generations of players to aspire to.

Over the years, the All Blacks have become the most feared opponent in the sport. Fierce rivalries exist between all the rugby powers, but the men wearing the black jerseys with the silver fern and delivering the challenge of the Haka have a psychological edge on the opposition whenever they step onto the field. Men like George Nepia, Colin Meads, Waka Nathan, Wilson Whineray, Graham Mourie, Andrew Mehrtens and Tana Umaga in the All Blacks hall of fame are outstanding individuals from outstanding teams – an unusual feature of many All Blacks teams is they can often have five or six truly stand out individuals, but its all about the team first.

Whilst many claim great teams operate to the maxim there is no I in team, there is simply no doubt that successful teams are comprised of high performing individuals. If you crush the individual character and spirit of those who form your team, how can your team operate at its best? It cannot. The strongest teams don’t weed out or neutralise individual tendencies, they capitalise on them. The goal is to harness individual strengths for the greater good of the team. This is best accomplished by leveraging individual talents, not stifling them.

Simply, no team can maximise their potential by ignoring or minimising the strengths of individual members. While smart leaders seek to align expectations and to create unity in vision, they understand this has nothing to do with demanding conformity in thought, or perspective. The key to maximizing the individual talents within a team is to focus on the shared vision rather than individual differences. For me, there are three primary considerations to build a high-performance team:

Alignment around a shared vision, shared values and common purpose One of the catalysts for effective team behaviour is trust. Trust between team members comes from believing in the same things. Teams with a strong sense of shared values use their behaviour to set standards. This seems obvious but many teams do not have it.

You want all team members moving in the same direction toward a shared vision, whereby individual and team goals are related to the purpose of the team. Then, team members clearly understand their roles and responsibilities and there is a strong and clear connection between all activities and the purpose of the team.

The common purpose should also be more than a set of numbers, it should connect to the organisation’s vision and the strategy for delivering it, having a common purpose includes the way they are going to win, especially if you are looking for repeatable success.

Make time for team members to appreciate one another’s skills Interpersonal understanding is critical to trust, the team must be aware of each member’s skills and personalities.  Once a team is established, taking time at each meeting for members to share personal reflections helps fortify the team’s understanding of each individual and how together they all contribute to a common goal. People on teams where people know one another better as people, are more collaborative and more efficient.

Once the individual senses their freedom within the team environment, there is a high and sustained level of energy, enthusiasm and confidence about their work and the way team members work together. Team members feel inspired and able to perform at levels never before imagined and in their ability to overcome obstacles. There is an aura of togetherness and focus that sustains growth of new capabilities and openness to change.

Mutual and individual accountability People like to know what is expected of them. In teams it’s critical to get the balance right between what the person is expected to do on their own and what that are expected to do for each other, and the team. Individual and team accountabilities must be aligned otherwise the team will pull against itself. Accountability, or ownership, needs to be one of any team’s shared values.

Teams need clear and constant feedback to know how they are doing in order to stay motivated and to correct performance inefficiencies. Ideally, a system should be in place so that team members receive ongoing feedback.

If you want a winning team, you need to make sure that each team member is responsible and committed to contributing to the team and are accountable for their performance and behaviour. No amount of good teamwork can be achieved if you don’t have individuals who are responsible, committed and accountable in your team.

However, the cliché remains. There is no I in Team, but Cambridge University’s Judge Business School Professor Mark de Rond’s research refutes the view that a cohesive team of players is more likely to win than a collection of outstanding individuals. There is an I in Team, combines social and psychological research with stories from world-class sports teams, as well as looking at other groups such as orchestras, and the corollary is definitely worth a read.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/There-Team-Athletes-Coaches-Performance/dp/1422171302

De Rond recently completed a six-week stint at the military hospital in Camp Bastion, the UK base in Helmand, Afghanistan and produced a remarkable study into the ways emergency medical teams cope with the high pressure environment which brings out their individual and collective qualities in the team.

De Rond says, At Bastion, you see the best teamwork you will ever see. But these are driven people, and some of the qualities that make them brilliant also make them difficult. The surgeons will occasionally compete for interesting work, and interfere with the work of others when they have none of their own.

Unable to cope with boredom, they will hope for new work to come in but then feel guilty about this – but the acceptance of such paradoxes is vital to the psychological safety of the surgical teams, allowing them to perform more effectively.

The need for best medical practices had led to a relaxation of the rules of hierarchy in the team de Rond has noted. The ‘de-ranking’ meant that people were able to speak more openly, admit mistakes, offer suggestions, or even criticism without worrying about that going on their records, upsetting the chain of command. It worked. The teamwork improved. The medical centre at Camp Bastion, the size of the town of Reading, has grown in six years from a row of tents to the most advanced of its kind, with treatments pioneered there for trauma adopted in civilian hospitals worldwide. De Rond’s findings are worth viewing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LNZ2DOiG4g

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-18594206

As the All Blacks, and the de Rond research remind us, effective teamwork is critical to an organisation’s success. We are better together than we are apart. The three key attributes of high performing teams identified earlier – superior levels of alignment, respect for the individual and mutual accountability – create greater levels of participation, cooperation, and collaboration – because their members trust one another, share a strong sense of group identity, and have confidence in their effectiveness as a team.

A final words to the All Blacks, where a whiteboard message in the changing room at Twickenham ahead of the England game declared: We are the most dominant team in the history of the world. We are playing England – this is about history, about human nature. We need to reach new levels mentally as a group. If only we could capture this, and replicate Richie McCaw’s spirit of the All Blacks in our own organisations: When you score a try for the All Blacks, you do it for the team, because the silver fern on the front of the shirt, and the shirt itself, are more important than the name on the scoreboard.

Whilst Michael Jordan said there is no i in team but there is in win, no one can whistle a symphony alone, it takes a whole orchestra to play it. Individual commitment to a group effort is what makes a team work, an organisation work, a society work, a civilisation work. Many of us are more capable than some of us, but none of us is as capable as all of us.