Tag Archives: collaboration

Who is the world’s best performing team?


When All Blacks coach, Graham Henry (later knighted for his services to rugby), took over as coach in 2004 he realized there was a need to change the culture of the organization – the players, coaching staff and administration. They needed to build in collaboration, resilience, innovation and good decision-making under pressure on and off the field. After a review, Henry and his wider team came to the view that “better people make better All Blacks”. He put together a team of support staff whose role was to help all the players not only with their fitness, diet, training and skills, but more importantly to build their character and attitudes as people leaders and understand their commitment to the team and to their fans in New Zealand and around the world.

Henry set about building a collaborative leadership team composed of the senior players and senior staff. These on-field and off-field teams knew their roles and responsibilities and worked as a total team to build a winning culture designed to continue the legacy of the great All Blacks teams of the past.

When the New Zealand All Blacks lost to the French in the quarter final of the Rugby World Cup in 2007 it was a shock to the players, coaches and 4 million New Zealanders – the entire population of the country. Henry realized there was more to do so he hired two outside consultants, one a psychologist, and both Black Belt karate experts, to develop a mental skills program to raise the ability of players to handle pressure on the rugby field. They educated the players on how the brain works and each player had triggers to help keep focused when under pressure and when unexpected things happened in the game. This added to their resilience as players and enabled them to handle extreme pressure in tight games and when things were turning against them.

“Better people make better All Blacks”

This program of development has continued and with consistency of players and coaching staff over time has created a consistent world beating team.

The All Blacks won the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups and with a winning rate of higher than 90% over the last 10 years are regarded by many as the best performing team globally in any sport.

Questions to ponder in your business:

How well do your “on-field customer facing teams” and “off-field support teams” collaborate for the benefit of customers and the community?

How well do you support your leaders as “whole” people, not just in terms of skills, but also in terms of their attitudes and alignment of their personal values and priorities with your business’s mission and vision?

Focus on collaboratively creating and delivering superior value for customers is a galvanizing goal for all people in your business – when embedded as a culture it brings out the best in your people that benefits them, your customers and your business performance.

You can learn more in our best selling book, The Customer Culture Imperative.

Collaboration Needed by Workers Too

On my way in to the office today I heard an interesting story on NPR.  Apparently services have popped up in New York wherein small business owners, freelancers and other self-employed types can work together in the same space.  While one tennant (right word?) admits it cuts into his productivity a bit, the value of (1) interacting with others, and (2) network with other entrepreneurs more than outweighs the downside.

Here’s the link to the story, which you can read or listen to.

In this area we have a similar concept over at the Marina Technology Cluster.  While it was set up as a business incubator to vitalize a community in dissaray after a military base closing, radio ads definitely emphasize the value of the collaborative environment.

Video Enables Never-Before-Possible Conversations

Using videos to interact with clients has always been powerful.  A video report at an annual shareholder or sales meeting will hold attention better than most, if not all speakers.  And back in our younger years, how much more interesting was a watching an educational film than listening to the teacher?

Over the last number of months we’ve seen that video can enable conversations that just wouldn’t happen otherwise.  I’m talking about online video.

Example 1 – Jemima Kiss is an online journalist for the UK publication, The Guardian.  Excited about the upcoming Indiana Jones movie, she recently posted questions via Seesmic.com to Steven Spielberg and Karen Allen (Marian in the 1st & 4th films) … and got responsesClick here to read her article and view the videos.  From her home in London she was able to speak directly to these Hollywood celebrities, and she was rewarded with a couple of direct answers.  Pretty empowering.  As she puts it, “The best thing about it is that it bypasses the Hollywooid/Cannes schmaltz and gets straight into a conversation.

Example 2 – Baron Davis, NBA allstar, sent out a “dare” directly to some of his fans via iBeatYou.com a site that elicits video responses to fun and outrageous challenges.  He directly challenged a teenaged fan to an online staring contest.  That teen then responded and further challenged Jessica Alba (star of the Fantastic Four movies) and she responded.  Now these videos are not really that interesting, and the whole thing is just a lot of fun and nonsense.  But the bigger picture is that here is a teenage fan that gets to play a game with two of his favorite celebrities.  That’s pretty neat!

We’re still very much in the early adoption stage of online video, but what other opportunities does this provide us and the companies we work for?  A more personalized message for one.  A lot more meaning and understanding can come from a video conversation than can over the phone, or worse, email.  Enabling video chat raises one’s “cool” factor.

Just as teleconferencing with our coworkers in other offices reduces confusion and builds comrodery – put a face to the voice – online video enables that powerful connection with anyone out there, including our customers.

In-Stadium Collaboration

Last week, in the midst of the New England Patriots run for the second ever undefeated season in the National Football League, a player from the Pittsburgh Steelers (next opponent) guaranteed victory for his team. This guarantee, made on national television, raised a few eyebrows (and fists) within the New England fan and media sets.

Today I sat in my living room and watched the Patriots methodically dismantle the Steelers, offensively and defensively. As the final minutes of the game ticked away, a chant from the home field Patriot fans could be heard to grow: “guar-an-tee, Guar-an-tee, GUAR-AN-TEE!, GUAR-AN-TEE!!, GUAR-AN-TEE!!!.” It became so loud that we watching from home could clearly hear it through the TV and feel a tingling urge to join in.

As I sat there, marveling at the perfect timing and context of this rebuke, I began to think about how sports game chants work. Stadiums fill up with tens of thousands of cheering and shouting fans. Many of these individuals are eager to start cheers and when they do, other fans listen. If they like it, they pick up the cheer; if they don’t, they ignore the cheer. The favorite cheers build momentum and burst into the thundering “GUAR-AN-TEE” that was heard today. Cheers with poor conception, bad timing, or little relevance are lost in the shuffle.

Stadiums are big cheer-factories that combine the thought-power and judgment of thousands upon thousands of fans. With this massive level of collaboration, is it any wonder that they deliver without fail?

What’s the point you might ask? The point is that if Bob Craft (Patriots owner) wanted to produce great cheers that his fans liked, his best bet would be to access their knowledge and preferences. In stadiums, this process happens automatically, but in businesses it doesn’t. If you’re interested in having the best ideas and products (cheers) at your company (stadium), take the time to listen to and collaborate with your customers (fans).