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Monday, August 21, 2017

High Performance Culture: "Legacy" and the All Blacks

Organizations flourish or die according to their culture. James Kerr's Legacy describes the reinvention of the New Zealand 'All Blacks' rugby club into a superpower that won world titles and 86 percent of its matches. 


Richie McCaw, All Blacks captain

Here are quotes from the first few chapters. Kerr shares the All Blacks championship ethos and the reasons behind their renaissance.

"The challenge is to always improve, to always get better, even when you are the best. Especially when you are the best."

"Sweeping the sheds. Doing it properly. So no one else has to." (It is such a challenge to get players to leave the gym better than they found it. I bring a towel for the floor because I'm tired of coaching in a swamp.) 

"A collection of talented individuals without personal discipline will ultimately and inevitably fail. Character triumphs over talent." 

"Character begins with humility."

"The challenge of every team is to build a feeling of oneness, of dependence on one another,’ said Vince Lombardi. ‘Because the question is usually not how well each person performs, but how well they work together.’"

"The really clever teams build a culture that drives the behaviours they need." (Coaches are teachers and education changes behavior.) 

"Though every organization thinks they have unique problems, many change issues are centered on one thing... the ability – or inability – to convert vision into action." (VDE - vision, decision, execution)

"Our values decide our character. Our character decides our value." (__________ doesn't build character. _______________ reveals character. Fill in the blank, whether it's sports, leadership, high office. Matthew points out the value of sharing...as a contributor, not an agitator.)

"Humility allows us to ask a simple question: how can we do this better?" (It can always be better.)

"Humility does not mean weakness, but its opposite."

"What else is a legacy if not that which you leave behind after you have gone?"

"Never be too big to do the small things that need to be done."

Four Stages for Organizational Change: 
° A Case for Change; 
° A Compelling Picture of the Future; 
° A Sustained Capability to Change; 
° A Credible Plan to Execute. 
(need, vision, commitment, process) 



"A winning organization is an environment of personal and professional development, in which each individual takes responsibility and shares ownership."

"The military have an acronym: VUCA: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. VUCA describes a world prone to sudden change." (Losing my top player to injury last season was the VUCA gut punch but gave other players more opportunity.)

"OODA Loop. OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act." (John Boyd's fighter pilot acronym...)

"‘It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.’ Charles Darwin"

"Go for the gap." It’s about adapting quickly to change by creating an adaptive culture.

"Sustainable competitive advantage is achieved by the development of a continuously self-adjusting culture." 

"Organizational mantra, Better People Make Better All Blacks"

"They started with purpose. "They needed a theme. The first came from Shakespeare’s Henry V: ‘for he today who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother’."

"Good leaders understand this and work hard to create a sense of connection, collaboration and communion."

"Viktor Frankl used research, "Asked what they considered ‘very important’ to them now, 16% checked ‘making a lot of money’; 78% said their first goal was ‘finding a meaning and purpose to my life.’" (I keep a copy of Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning on my desk...my wife says I have EVERYTHING on my desk.)

‘Self-actualization,’ he concludes, ‘is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.’ (This meshes with Gregg Popovich's caution to players, "get over yourself.")

"Mike Markkula, Apple’s ‘Employee Number 3’, had told Jobs. ‘Your goal should be making something you believe in and making a company that will last.’" (Steve Jobs philosophy was to build a company that makes a 'dent in the universe'. Regrettably, this explains Apple's fragile cables...they LOOK good.)

"Inspired leaders, organizations and teams find their deepest purpose – their ‘why?’ – and attract followers through shared values, vision and beliefs."

"As Nietzsche said: ‘He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.’"

"Leaders who harness the power of purpose have the ability to galvanize a group, aligning its behaviours to the strategic pillars of the enterprise."

Note: readers of Legacy will find dimensions from many other authors and leadership books within. But James Kerr weaves a seamless tapestry of ideas, with many threads from Maori culture. 

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