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Take a lesson from the All Blacks

Written By: - Date published: 9:23 am, October 22nd, 2016 - 21 comments
Categories: business, employment, sport - Tags: , , ,

The All Blacks are good at what they do, and lately never better. There are many reasons for that success, but here’s one of them – New Zealand’s supremacy a testament to All Blacks ideal of shared ownership

They have not lost in the tournament since then and their success rate in 118 Tests played since the beginning of 2008 is 88.98%: they have won as many matches as Ireland and France combined, averaging nearly four tries a match. Hansen was part of the management team headed by Graham Henry in 2007. Until then, World Cup failure, and that was defined as not returning home with the trophy, meant automatic dismissal. The New Zealand Rugby Union paused for reflection eight years ago and after Henry was reappointed, along with Hansen and Wayne Smith, he modified his approach and gave, in his words, ownership to the players.

He established a group of four on-field leaders, who would get together with the coaches the night after a match to review it and plan for the next one, and three off it, who worked with the team manager, organising the squad’s schedule and helping ease in new players. The system remains…

The Japanese proved decades ago that shared ownership – involving workers in management – is a highly successful and productive model. Why is it used so seldom in NZ? If we won’t learn from Japan, would we consider learning from the All Blacks?

21 comments on “Take a lesson from the All Blacks ”

  1. RedLogix 1

    Yes. The rather remarkable company I work for at present is on the same playing field. While it remains family owned and the Tech Director is still a strong leader, almost everything else is ‘up for grabs’.

    We run a very flat open management model, where everyone is allowed and encouraged to talk with everyone. It’s a bit chaotic, frustrating at times and means we keep changing our minds … but the results are in world-class All Black territory.

    Right now we’re at the crux point of commissioning an audacious project that literally no-one else in the world could have pulled off in the time-frame and budget we have done. And it implements a bundle of technologies that are transformational in our industry.

    Shared ownership (in every sense of that word) absolutely works. The trick is managing all the personal relationships and fostering a healthy culture that is aware of power, rank and the uses and misuses of these. We actively coach and mentor in these.

    • Sacha 1.1

      Great to hear. And yes, it requires resourcing of focused ongoing coaching/training. That’s what many NZ organisations are unwilling to commit to, and our slack managerial culture supports them.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.2

      The trick is managing all the personal relationships and fostering a healthy culture that is aware of power, rank and the uses and misuses of these.

      Yep, definitely needs the processes in place that empowers people to speak out. The exact opposite of what normally happens in hierarchical systems.

    • gsays 1.3

      As the old addage goes: managers need workers, workers don’t need managers.

  2. Ad 2

    Theory K!

    I’m guessing no-one remembers that book, written after New Zealand’s America’s Cup win. It was the early 1990s off the top of my head. Projects nationalist hogwash from our apparent sporting greatness.

    There’s also plenty written on how good New Zealanders are in teams. Meaning, by negation, pretty average managers. I think it’s more a kind of collective moral failing, not helped by our economic history.

    I would so love to see more shared equity and shared leadership within New Zealand companies. It’s really, really rare. In my field I can think of one. Would be interested in others in New Zealand.

    • RedLogix 2.1

      New Zealand is rotten with weak managers. Well-meaning amateurs at best, sociopathic arses at worst. Which is WHY they are so bad at wielding the rank and authority necessary to do their jobs well.

      Because when a manager/leader gets it right, their team will crawl over broken glass for them.

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 2.1.1

        Yep, NZ management is often rubbish. The skills / attributes needed to be selected into management (e.g. sociopathy), are totally different to those needed to be a good manager.

        In my industry, which requires a lot of capital to start a business, there is zero worker equity or ownership – and it shows very strongly in the management quality. Some very good teams at the lower levels, but dreadfully mismanaged from above in general.

    • Cinny 2.2

      and some of the worst managers are the ones who are managing our country, time for a change, come 2017 they’ll be fired.

  3. mauī 3

    We have the National Party in New Zealand. The senior leadership group and advisors lead them to election wins with a professional mindset and the win at all costs mentality. Then there’s the questionable backing and ethics, mirroring what the ABs have in AIG as sponsors and off field incidents.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    The New Zealand Rugby Union paused for reflection eight years ago and after Henry was reappointed, along with Hansen and Wayne Smith, he modified his approach and gave, in his words, ownership to the players.

    So, what we have here is an example of communism working?

    Why is it used so seldom in NZ?

    Because our business people are too busy thinking that they’re better than everyone else and thus must control everything. It’s, IMO, one of the reason why NZ managers are some of the worst in the world.

    • ropata 4.1

      Wealth and power are a poor indicator of intellect, skill, or morality.

    • Incognito 4.2

      Maybe this post was specifically about business managers & leaders but I took it in a more general sense, e.g. managers & leaders of any NZ organisation or institution such as hospitals/ADHBs, city councils, schools and tertiary education institutions, political parties and Government, etc. Frankly, I don’t see how one could or should distinguish between business and non-business in this context. If this was the intention of the post, which I doubt, then it was flawed IMHO.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1

        IMO, our ‘leaders’ consider themselves businessmen first no matter where they happen to work. It is part of the Cult of the Individual and neo-liberalism that entered our society since the 1980s.

        • Incognito

          If only; many see themselves as astute leaders and managers in the first place while acting as (amateur) business people; very schizophrenic if you ask me. At the same time they are responsible for resources that are not theirs.

    • Gosman 4.3

      Two points.

      Any decision made around the role if the players in the decision making of the All Blacks was done voluntarily. Noone forced the coaches or NZRFU to do this. It was not imposed after a Revolution.

      The organisation of both the team and the NZRFU still is hierarchical. Steve Hansen is still ultimately responsible for deciding who is in and who is not and how the team plays and he reports to the NZRFU board. The fact a lot if individuals decision making has been delegated to players does not take away from that.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.3.1

        Any decision made around the role if the players in the decision making of the All Blacks was done voluntarily. Noone forced the coaches or NZRFU to do this. It was not imposed after a Revolution.
        I don’t recall mentioning a revolution.

        The organisation of both the team and the NZRFU still is hierarchical.

        And just imagine how much better it would be if it wasn’t.

        Steve Hansen is still ultimately responsible for deciding who is in and who is not and how the team plays and he reports to the NZRFU board. The fact a lot if individuals decision making has been delegated to players does not take away from that.

        Just because you have some people responsible for making specific day to day decisions doesn’t mean that they have to be hierarchical.

  5. Cinny 5

    Yes we do have stellar sportsmen in NZ, and a very tight, talented All Blacks team, highly trained, and I’ll be watching the test tonight, love watching the AB’s such skill, I try to watch every test, love it.
    Just had an earful on the wireless about the outgoing PM taking the fijian dictator to the test 2night. Pisses me off how the outgoing PM constantly exploits our national sport for his political gains.

    Anyways, shared ownership is a fantastic approach. Would be good to see some shared ownership of any social problems in our own communities, everyone working together for solutions, more experienced assisting the youth, taking them under their wing. Take the oldies from the rest homes and retirement villages and involve them with the kids, everyone would win.
    The Food Forest around the corner is a fine example of shared ownership.

    “The word he used was re-establishment,”… is it time to ‘re-establish’ some of our communities due to a lack of shared ownership? In some parts of NZ yes. Bit of a challenge for any in a city, but nothing is impossible.

    GO THE AB’s, the aussies will be super fired up 2nite me thinks, it’s gonna be an incredible game. Shared ownership <3

  6. Morrissey 6

    Only a fool would dispute the All Blacks’ brilliance, but the ugly and indisputable fact remains that they would not have won that farcical 2011 RWC final if there had been a referee….

    “The World Cup was decided on non-refereeing decisions.
    Unbelievable… shameful…really bad…he refused to make any
    decisions. Shameful… so sad…. France should have had two or three
    opportunities to win that game from penalties but the referee did not
    have the same rules for both sides. That World Cup was decided on non-
    refereeing . A shameful, shameful performance. The French knew what
    was going to happen before they went in to this game, I think Paddy
    O’Brien did brilliantly to ensure a benign referee from New Zealand’s
    point of view was in charge. He didn’t referee them at the breakdown,
    he was completely inconsistent. That Kaino non-decision was just
    disgraceful. That was on the 40-metre line and was very kickable.

    The referee abrogated responsibility.”

  7. Incognito 7

    My impression of NZ managers and leaders is not very positive based on an admittedly very small sample.

    It seems like a lot of them are stuck in old-school patriarchal autocratic attitudes and thinking and are intrinsically colonial and conservative. At the same time they pride themselves in being self-taught (autodidact), wearing this as a badge of honour and independence.

    This is mixed & merged with modern attitudes that worship self-reliance and self-determination; they know best.

    The end result of this weird cultural mix of old & new is a bunch of people who don’t have the skills or inclination to co-operate, collaborate, and co-function in a collective sense. They haven’t got a clue as to how to bring the best out of people and optimise individual and collective performance. Instead, they resort to force and power play, or become sticklers for rules & regulations (laws), and often pull rank.

    Another short-coming of these so-called managers and leaders is a distinct lack of communication skills. They don’t listen and they are not able to articulate the common purpose; they don’t have the glue to bind and hold people together and to inspire or motivate them to work towards a common or shared goal.

    Morale is often average to low and when a crisis point is reached urgent meetings are called for or, in larger institutions and organisations, online questionnaires are employed to seek feedback and engage with the work force.

    O.k., end of rant; thank you for giving me the opportunity to get this off my chest.

  8. Philj 8

    Mom… The Dompost weekender had a scathing feature about how NZ rugby and particularly its administration had become too big for its boots and needed some tough love to bring it back to the grass roots. The Abs are a good team in a small global sport. Big fish in a small pond. This says much about NZ’s wannabe mentality, to punch above our Weight etc. I could argue that the dominance of the nations adoration of the ABs has been detrimental for many smaller sports in NZ that could benefit from better media coverage and public support. The ABs are too important to our limited National identity IMO.

  9. keepcalmcarryon 9

    A great idea to use the talents of all concerned in an organisation.
    In New Zealand with backwards labour laws and broken unions , this system easily becomes everybody else doing managements job but not being payed or even credited for their ideas. Some shiny arse claims credit and gets a bonus.

    NZ rugby and the Allblacks are an interesting case study to quote – staunch conservative rusted on National voters as they liked to tell us last election. Yet they have the Rugby Players Association (union) making sure the players (workers) get their slice of the pie, even while voting for the union bashing nats for everyone else.
    Similar story for the farmers union Federated farmers but here I digress.

    So yeah , fine sentiments, the sharing of ideas with our betters – if the pie gets shared with those who contribute.

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