Creating a Collaborative Culture: 3 phases, 7 steps

kevinOn Tuesday last week, Kevin Roberts Worldwide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi London kindly hosted a gathering of prospective stakeholders interested in learning more about and contributing towards the Global Rugby Collaborative (GRC). The GRC aspires to unite people and organizations from around the world who are interested in creating positive social change through rugby with a shared vision to “Together, Create a Better World through Rugby”. You can learn more about the GRC here but this blog is more about the process we’re going through to create this collaborative structure.

While establishing the GRC network I have read a lot about collaboration. Having also been a member of various high performing sports teams for many years it has enabled me to really reflect upon how best to create a successful Culture of Collaboration. The GRC is a real-life case study, early on in its development. So, I have come up with 3 phases including 7 steps (I love #7) towards building this culture – steps I am currently going through myself! I hope they are helpful to you whether personally or professionally, in developing a culture of collaboration and I would be interested to hear your thoughts. What has worked for you? What have been your challenges? How have you maintained a culture of collaboration, having started one?

PHASE 1: CATALYZING THE COMMUNITY -

Step 1: Inspire through a Shared Vision - Why would someone like Kevin Roberts – a world-class CEO, care to contribute his most valuable asset – time – to the GRC? Honestly, I haven’t asked him directly but my guess is he likes the idea that rugby can help change young peoples’ lives. He probably likes it because he appreciates what rugby did for him, what it has done for others he has supported over the years both personally and professionally. I would think also given his role, he appreciates the value and perhaps relishes the challenge of driving forward a creative idea that has the power to be transformational. In short, I’m sure he shares the vision for the GRC and I for one, am very grateful for that! I’m sure the other 30 attendees – all leaders in their respective fields from business, philanthropy, and Sports for Development – share that same vision. So that is the first step – to inspire a group of individuals / organizations to participate as community around a central, shared vision.

Step 2: Embracing Leaders - It’s relatively easy to come up with an idea. It’s much harder to execute on that idea and make it a reality. I’ve learnt this through my professional experience with both successes and failures. One of Saatchi’s core beliefs is that “an idea is not an idea until people participate in it”. So, in order for a newly assembled community to collaborate around an idea, you need them to participate in it. One key way to do this is to ask for the contribution of leaders in the space. So, in the field of Sports 4 Development (social change through sport – and rugby specifically) we were proud to have the CEO of the IRB, the President of RFU, CEO of Beyond Sport, the grant Manager from Laureus Sports for Good Foundation, and the Communications Manager from AIG in attendance, for example, among a number of other world-class leaders in their fields. Embracing leaders and asking for their contribution not only provides a fountain of valuable knowledge for the collaboration but also builds momentum, credibility and collective buy-in to the idea.

Step 3: Identifying Shared Purpose - Now we’ve gotten people to participate, how can we align them to build a strategy towards achieving the vision? Before we start talking about goals and objectives, strategies & tactics, 100 day action plans, etc, we first need to establish the foundation for this action to be built upon. The foundation is establishing a shared purpose. Core to a shared purpose are our shared beliefs and character. What do we believe in, how would we define ourselves? So, for two examples within the GRC community we believe that “Rugby has the power to change young peoples lives for the better”, “Rugby is a uniquely feasible asset to benefit the communities we serve”. Our character would include traits like: Innovative, Brave, Transparent, Supportive, Passionate, Collaborative. So, we need to understand others beliefs and character traits and unite with those who share the same ones. We then finally define the purpose for the collaborative together. This ends phase 1 (which was last week and is currently being documented) and we move on to phase 2 (this week & going-forward…)!

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PHASE 2: COLLECTIVE CONTRIBUTION –  

Step 4: Team Based Trust - High performing teams are build upon the most effective combination of individual strengths. Everyone brings different strengths to the table and the right combination of these strengths enables team members to respect each other. From respect builds trust. Because others have different strengths to ourselves, we respect their ability to perform a task and to support us in performing our task. In return we support them in achieving theirs. As a team, we all share the same objective. So, to build a collaborative culture, we need to identify individuals’ and organizations’ strengths and create the right positions through which they can make a meaningful contribution to the team. So, for the GRC we have created 5 task forces: Partnership Development, Fund Development, Network Development, Coach Development and Organizational Leadership Development. Underpinning these will be some generic functions across all task forces – comms & marketing, finance, reporting, etc. However, while enabling people to contribute based upon their strengths is important, we also need to understand how they can gain personal or professional benefit for their contribution. Other than believing in the vision and purpose, what drives their participation? For example, would they like: recognition, personal development, networking, sense of purpose, serving others, establishing deeper connections? Understanding the dynamics of individual motivation is as important as enabling individuals to contribute in a meaningful way. This is also arguably not an easy task to get right!

Step 5: Cooperative Game Plan – There are two ways of doing this – bottom up, and top down. I can’t tell you which one works best for the GRC yet as in reality we’ll likely do both simultaneously. Based upon feedback from members and other stakeholders to date, we have a good idea of what we would like to get done to support our members (strategies to achieve specific outcomes). The bigger question is how do we do it, what resources do we need, how can people help? So we will be asking each functional area to come up with a game plan (18 month strategic plan & associated action plans) of what they could do to help contribute towards us achieving certain defined outcomes (based upon our member needs) and likely also defining what other complimentary outcomes they could achieve. We can then compare the proposed functional outcomes horizontally (fit) and vertically (impact) to prioritize and ensure alignment. We will then coordinate resources around the chosen priority outcomes to support each others’ long-term (big hairy audacious) goals as we build step by step in achieving some smaller wins that build momentum and confidence towards us achieving our shared vision.

Step 6: Team First, Self Last - This is where the rubber meets the road. Now, its game time – we have to get the work done and it needs to be about the common goals. This is where egos have to be left at the door and individuals and organizations are committed to and contributing towards the vision they couldn’t otherwise achieve on their own. In order to support this, we first need to establish together the “rules of the game” our “code of conduct” – processes and rituals that reinforce collaborative behavior. If we can all agree upon these rules of the game before kick-off, we can hold each other accountable to the collaborative goals during game time and post-match review!

Step 7: Collective Celebration - Our code of conduct is not just about doing the right thing, it’s also about celebrating success together. So when we achieve things together we need to shout about it and celebrate not only the collective success but also thank each individual for their contribution towards that success. This may be as simple as recognizing the contribution or saying “thank-you”. More deeply, this reinforces why it is really important to understand each individuals’ drivers for participation so when we thank them, we can ask them what they are getting out of it and how we can help them further that individual need. The more we can support members of the community in achieving their personal objectives through contribution towards the collaborative objectives, the more motivated people will be and the more celebrations we’ll be able to have as we go-forward together!

GRC Facilitators

So, lastly as I reflect on this process – I would just like to give a quick shout out and thank-you to Kevin Roberts (top picture) & Saatchi & Saatchi London, our three primary facilitators for the GRC Stakeholder event: Nick Skytland (above left) Adam Armstrong (above, three from left) and Dan Nichols (above right) staff member Mallory Woods (behind the camera), for making our London event so collaborative!

 

Can you coach Resilience? Here’s 7 ways to try…

There are so many tragedies around the world and it is inevitable that each and every one of us has either already experienced some kind of material set-back or knows someone who has. It is also inevitable that we will experience various set-backs throughout our life time, whether at home, at work, or in the community.

Some people, organizations and communities ‘bounce back’ quickly, others don’t. Why is that? Resilience is the ability to recover, become strong or successful again after something bad has happened. At the individual level there are some biological factors at play with regard to how our brains work that somewhat influence that process, but I’m afraid they’re above my pay grade. Given businesses and communities are networks of people, what I want to explore is how we can help develop or coach resilience through a process of encouraging and practicing healthy habits. Whether we are self-coaching, life-coaching, parenting, leading a team at work, or mentoring others, I believe these habits can be applied. The younger they are learned, the better. I have outlined 7 steps to develop resilience. Let me know what you think and please share any additional recommendations you have learned from your own coaching / experience?

Some of the young people we work with at Play Rugby USA it seems have experienced enough set-backs already for life. Some of them have had to grow up quickly as a result. It is truly inspirational to see how so many of them continue to go-forward and support each other in achieving success. We are proud to be able to provide them with some passionate Youth Development Mentors who they can trust to help them along the way. So this brings me to the first of my 7 steps to learning resilience:

1) Go-Forward mindset: Yes, this is easier said than done but we remind our students regularly to “Go Forward”. As I have stated in previous blogs, Go Forward in rugby means to advance the ball forward to maintain possession (control), challenge and ultimately penetrate the defense (adversity). Off the field this means to learn, improve, experience personal growth and to never give up. A Go Forward mindset therefore requires learning from the past but always looking to the future knowing we may not always be able to control every outcome, but so long as we are going forward (making progress) to never give up. A Go-Forward mindset isn’t enough on its own to be learn resilience, but it’s a solid start. Just saying to yourself regularly “Go-Forward” is a gentle reminder to keep focus on what’s next, not what has gone before.

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2) Understand that change is constant and set-backs are an inevitable part of change: We have likely all been told at some point in our childhood “life isn’t fair”, and we have it drummed into us that “the only constant is change”. But, how do we prepare for change? When coaching / mentoring we can communicate that goals & benchmarks can change, expectations can be adjusted and that there is always something can can be learnt from every outcome, whether it was desired or not. We can encourage people to “play what we see” and make the best decisions they can on the fly taking into account those around them. We can communicate that sometimes bad things may happen, and we appreciate that bad things suck. But because we know that, we shouldn’t be surprised; we can handle them. Also, we need to appreciate point #3:

3) Step back to broaden your perspective: Picture your issue / set back. It may be all consuming. Then take one massive step back in your head. What else is there in your life? What is going well, what and who do you love, who do you know, who has been through this before, who can help? I’m not exactly a philosophy expert but Budda did say: “Our life is shaped by our mind. We become what we think. Suffering follows an evil [replace with "negative"] thought as the wheels of the cart follow the oxen that draws it”. Thinking broadly, thinking positively helps dilute the concentration of adversity.

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4) You can’t change the weather: (Although you can move to improve it!). We can only control what we can control. So, we have to make the most of the things within our sphere of self-influence. Also, if there are too many external factors negatively influencing our sphere of self-influence, how can we control (i.e. get rid of / minimize) some of them? For the things within our control, imagining our ultimate outcome (vision) for each, helps set our course. For example, if you’re a personal trainer working with someone looking to loose weight (it is New Year after all) how do they want to look and feel in 12 months time? Then, we help them set small goals in bite sized pieces, to help them move them forward. Then:

5) Self-Leadership: This is a broad and much documented topic but there are some basics we can employ that help us maximize point #4 above. Once we have set our ‘ultimate’ or  longer-term direction for a particular factor we can control and we’re motivated to get there,  imagining what that could look like (motivation), we can now employ 3 R’s: a) Reward ourselves for our achievements, and b) Reflect upon our outcomes (whether good or bad); and c) practice self-Respect. That is – put your positive hat on! If we respect ourselves, we can look positively at each step we take towards the vision we have for ourselves and be honest about whether we’re still going-forward. And if we’re struggling, we can always remember the old English proverb: “where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

6) Balance routine with enrichment: Personally, I’ve always been one to “keep busy” to keep my mind and body active & challenged and in some respects this has helped me go-forward after some set-backs. Routine for me traditionally has been work (running a small portfolio of sports-themed social enterprises) and training (gym, running, biking, rugby practice). However, having a routine it is not enough and at times can be a cause of stress and anxiety by taking on too much and loosing control of too many outcomes. So, just as important  or helpful as a routine may be, it’s equally important to have fun. Take a break, play a game, go out with friends, watch a movie, write a blog..haha, etc.

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Lastly, and absolutely not least:

7) You do not have to be alone: One of the themes that comes out most prominently from many of the students we work with is that since they have started playing rugby they realize they have a new “family”, “teammates” and “support”. They “look for help” want to become “role models” and feel a “connection” to and “respect” for each other. They make each other want to be a “better player / person” and they “learn” from each other along the way. They have chosen to participate in a game that has provided them with a new network of friends and supporters. So, to develop resilience, you need to ensure that YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE ALONE. Being resilient however isn’t just about asking others for help. Resilient people exhibit the following behaviors: a) make connections with other people; b) help other people and c) ask for help, when they need it.

Junior and Senior Academy players play team building games together

Junior and Senior Academy players play team building games together

 

I’m interested to hear your thoughts? Can resilience be coached / developed? What are the challenges? What has worked for you?

Wellness: Young peoples’ lack of participation in sports is America’s biggest missed opportunity for long-term success.

If you glance over international education league tables, you may not be too proud to hear that the USA is punching way below its weight. For the biggest economy in the world, USA’s ranking at 17th (Pearson, 2012) and below average among OECD member countries, leaves much to be desired. In the land of opportunity, where education is the primary vehicle  to seize that opportunity, the USA is falling behind its peers. The American dream while still aspirational may be becoming just a little too impossible for too many, to attain. And it’s America’s most disadvantaged, urban youth, that will bear the brunt of this, as the achievement gap continues to grow. I believe improving the wellness of America’s young people is the key to getting the USA back on top.

 There are some broader but related challenges, evidenced by the following facts:

  • 71% of young people do not get the recommended daily dosage of physical activity;*
  • 1 in 3 young people are overweight or obese;*
  • 25% of middle school students report being a victim of violence;*
  • On average only 58% of young people in urban public schools will graduate;*
  • Obesity treatment costs total more than treatment costs for alcohol and smoking related treatment combined! At an estimated $190 billion / year (2005), they are quite literally unsustainable.**
  • Obesity has roughly the same association with chronic health conditions as does twenty years’ aging.***

* Up2Us website / ** Cawley J, Meyerhoefer C. The medical care costs of obesity: an instrumental variables approach. J Health Econ. 2012; 31:219-30. / *** R. Sturm, 2002 Health Affairs.org

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Elementary school participants in Play Rugby USA’s program compete in a fun, indoor, flag rugby tournament. 

So why does wellness matter?

In short, I believe wellness as a core component in USA’s educational policy is the single-most important factor in America achieving long-term economic success. Furthermore, that we need to focus on wellness as the most powerful prevention vehicle we have through our young people who hold our future in their hands.

As luck would have it, there is demand for this among our young people. Participation in sports as an extracurricular activity happens to be the one thing the vast majority of kids report they want to do. Why? Because sports are FUN! And, research would suggest that sports (assuming appropriate dosage of the right sport/s, coached in the right way) have proven to be the most effective vehicle for young people achieving and sustaining wellness. Sports prepare young people for life while developing healthy habits leading to improved health & fitness. This ultimately will lead to a reduction in the systemic treatment costs associated with America’s poor health.

 In New Directions for Youth Development, Michael Bergeron reported that students participating in 1 hour of moderate of physical activity, 4 – 5x per week, during which their heart-rate was at least 50% of maximum –would notice favorable changes in body composition and maintenance.

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Perhaps Sports biggest asset for young people, is that coached appropriately IT IS FUN! What better way to keep the kids coming back for more exercise!

Sports programs have been proven to be the best value approach ($ / student) by engaging multiple students on a frequent basis. The cost of participation in sports is multiples less than the cost of treating obesity. Clearly sports alone cannot prevent obesity but sports happen to be one of the few solutions that positively impact multiple other outcomes of a child’s development. A number of studies show that participation in sports has empowered young people to improve: attendance at school; cognitive function; academic performance; graduation rates and college matriculation rates; while reducing discipline issues; other delinquent behaviors; and ultimately, drop-out rates. In fact, sports correlate more strongly with low drop-out rates than any other activity (Up2Us position statement on Education).

Runners World recently wrote referencing a study published in PLoS One that fitter kids (aged 9 & 10) had significantly better memory recall, particularly in harder recall situations.

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Students from PS279 in the Bronx, representing “New Zealand” took it upon themselves to learn the Haka – a Maori war-dance and performed it at a Play Rugby USA tournament.

According to the Center for Disease Control, for young people the optimal dosage of activity is 1 hour / day of moderate to vigorous physical activity. While at school, physical activity can be achieved through participation in physical education classes, through recreation in the playground and through participation in sports. All three are important but sports have the advantage of engaging young people in structured safe play with positive adult role models (coaches) who can facilitate the development of life skills, increase activity levels & facilitate young people having fun. Moreover, sports delivered after-school provide an engaging alternative when young people are most at-risk of being inactive and / or making bad choices.

So, why are budget cuts year on year reducing opportunities for young people – especially those in urban areas who are disconnected or disadvantaged – to participate in sports? Why is physical education and sports not front-and-center in the educational agenda, rather than a massively underfunded after thought (which is the reality)? With these budget cuts, pay-to-play participation is on the rise and the future for America’s most in need young people does not look bright. Initiatives like the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” are a step in the right direction by increasing awareness but are still ancillary to the core educational agenda and in creating systemic action & change that is required.

According to a recent GAO Report (February 2012) only 55% of schools mandated physical education, and under 16% offered physical education at least 3 days / week (13.7% elementary, 15.2% middle, 3.0% high school). There’s 50 million students in America – so that’s a lot of kids not running around, having fun.

Furthermore, the USA, I believe, is one of the only countries in the world without a Sports Minister, sports department, or anything that remotely resembles a body that has any material influence over mandating or supporting sports participation in schools. Without Sports being a core component in America’s educational dialogue, we’re missing a huge opportunity to create a generation of healthy, successful people to drive our economy forward.

But, let me not criticize the powers that be, without making some suggestions:

 1) Instead of ObamaCare shouldn’t we have ObamaFit / ObamaPlay / ObamaSports. I do of course appreciate the need for access to healthcare (I am from the UK after all) but with the reality of finite resources, debt-ceilings and the associated opportunity cost of political decisions, can we not put our tax-money into prevention and start with our kids- our potentially most valuable asset or alternatively our largest long-term liability. There’s a stakeholder model here through public-private partnerships that can truly work, very efficiently, very effectively, to create a long-term legacy of a healthy America.

2) One such model (there are many) could be to simply multiply the force of Coach-mentors across the country (see CoachAcrossAmerica) delivering Sports-Based-Youth-Development programs. We could place them in schools to work alongside (not replace) physical educators and staff from organizations like Playworks – to jointly develop opportunities for students’ participation in sports during & after-school. If we’re moving towards an extended school day (that’s another debate) let’s ensure physical activity & sports are part of the day and the extension! I mean, I know our kids all love taking tests :) but can they also please play some games!

3) Let’s change and improve America’s sports culture from one of elitism and money making to one that also embraces and encourages amateurism and participation. Parents speak up! Sports don’t just have to be for the most talented “Varsity” athletes, they can be fun for all. Community programs don’t just have to be elite travel-leagues, let’s create some additional leagues that encourage participation, play, competition and fun. American professional sports will be just fine – they’re too big and too popular to fail, but let’s get our next generation of amateur sports players activated!

4) Let’s add in some new, less traditional American sports – providing something new & something different to engage our young people. There’s value in all sports if coached with a player-first philosophy but clearly with a blog called rugby4good I am somewhat biased towards rugby. So, to end my rant on wellness – America’s biggest missed opportunity – here’s some reasons why participation in rugby can help:

  • Rugby is inclusive, life-long, inexpensive and in it’s flag (non-contact) form, safe, simple to coach & flexible enough for almost every school in America to adopt. We have a best-in-class online curriculum and coach training program that can support this effort!
  • Rugby is a vigorous but seamlessly-engaging physical activity:
    • According to a study conducted by the University of South Florida Flag Rugby (6.03 METS) attains the highest activity levels when compared to flag football (4.93 METS), basketball (5.51 METS). Flag Rugby students also reported to be their highest engagement and competence level, closely followed by basketball and further behind again, by flag football. >6 METS is considered vigorous physical activity for young people.
    • Play Rugby USA’s most recent evaluations with middle school students indicate over 2 after school practices (3 hours total), average heart-rates of over 65% in boys and over 70% in girls.
  • Rugby is a second-to-none sports opportunity (vehicle) through which you can develop life-long values in young people:
    • It is player centered – requiring students to make decisions individually & together on the field, enabling them to learn from mistakes, support each other and “go-forward” together.
    • It is fast paced and dynamic – requiring students to “get there” with physical urgency and “switch on” mentally, to make the best decisions for their team in a rapidly changing environment.
    • It is continuous and fluid requiring students to constantly “play what they see” by constantly assimilating visual, verbal and physical queues and reacting accordingly.
    • The “spirit of rugby” is a core component of the laws of the game and engenders integrity, solidarity, commitment, discipline and respect in a way unsurpassed by other sports.
    • And finally, to quote one of our students – Zolia – “Rugby is sanity, you know, mental health”!

7 Components of Camaraderie: One of Rugby’s Greatest Assets

7 Components of Camaraderie – One of Rugby’s Greatest Assets.

As I flew back to New York on Sunday having competed in the World Rugby Classics in Bermuda, I reflected again about some of the incredible people I have had the opportunity to meet, play with and compete against. Just over a week ago, the Classic Eagles  – USA’s over 33-year-old alumni national team managed to beat Australia 15-12 in a hard fought match. With only 3 ‘new’ players on the squad this year, we won in large part because of the camaraderie we had developed competing together over the last few years.

Will Greenwood mentioned recently that rugby was a “passport”. Many refer to the rugby community a brother/sister-hood, a fraternity or family. For many of our young participants it is this support network that may become one of the most powerful assets they will own (and one day treasure) from playing rugby. Rugby may become a passport to lifelong opportunity should they choose to travel with it. This global rugby fraternity is something very unique to the game and exists because of camaraderie – a camaraderie that at its core is built upon a culture of respect.

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Maori All Blacks & Play Rugby USA students in pre-practice huddle at Pier 5, Brooklyn. Photo: Michael Lee

Rugby people, help rugby people:

If you know anyone in the rugby world, they will tell you, that rugby players have an unbreakable camaraderie between them. The game of rugby, when coached with an emphasis on its unique constituents can genuinely change lives. These unique components are the difference between a team of players who work together on the field and a team of players who still have one another’s back off the field—camaraderie. Because I had experienced this myself from a young age, I decided to retire 35 years early from my banking career to set up Play Rugby USA. I wanted to create an avenue for young people to experience the vast amount of opportunities that rugby offers, young people that otherwise might not have had one. In doing so, I have met some incredible people all over the USA and from around the world. The culture of respect, the doors it can open, the camaraderie that can be developed are really whatever you want to make of them. I’ve been lucky enough to help John Layfield establish a similar program in Bermuda, I’ve traveled to New Zealand for nearly a month, and not paid for one night of accommodation, I’ve been hosted by Premiership Rugby at the finals in Twickenham and by Phil Greening for an international rugby match. I am lucky, yes, but these people have given back to me, because I have given back to rugby. So, giving back is possibly one of the most rewarding things you can do – so pass it on (just not forward)!

Here are my 7 components of Camaraderie:

1) Respect: to work with and for someone, or to support someone towards maximizing jointly shared objectives, respect is vital. Respect is a core value of rugby (and Play Rugby USA) and a key component in any youth development program. Despite what may seem on the surface a pretty brutal collision sport, you will always see rugby players shake hands and even hug after matches and often eat dinner together in the club house. Even within a match, you will see players offer a hand to help up an opposition player after a stoppage in play, or a gentle tap on the back to respect a tackle someone has made on you. You will never see a rugby player overtly celebrate for making a big tackle but you may see teammates congratulate them for doing so. In sports terms we talk to the kids about ROOTS (Positive Coaching Alliance) –  which is Respect for Opposition, Officials, Teammates and Supporters. Respect is integral in developing camaraderie.

2) Trust: From respect and an understanding of peoples’ characteristics, roles and responsibilities, can come trust. Trusting someone – that they have your back, that they will execute their part of a play, that they will keep digging deep in the dying minutes of a close game, that they will remain disciplined under pressure – is an integral component of an effective team, business partnership, or for that matter any relationship. Trust is also necessary to build camaraderie.

3) Reciprocity: Camaraderie is most effectively developed when you get out at least what you put in. This is equally true between two individuals or among a team.

4) Reward: Reward is the excess positive energy that is developed from relationships founded in respect, reciprocity and trust. The reward is the value added, it’s what keeps you coming back. For a relationship it might be friendship, for a team it might be winning, or performing better, for a business partnership it may be profit.

5) Purpose: For a relationship, business partnership or team to be successful they need to have a clearly defined and shared purpose. Having a purpose provides direction, integrity & clarity in how to go-forward together, even when adversity may appear.

6) Caring: Caring for your shared purpose develops a commitment to the relationship, partnership or team that enables camaraderie to develop.

7) Friendship: is one of the biggest opportunities and assets I see resulting from camaraderie but can also be part of camaraderie.  Making new friends through rugby is perhaps the most valuable part of being involved in the game.

 

5 Ways the Global Rugby Collaborative will create a better world – are you our next partner?

On Tuesday September 10 at the Beyond Sport Summit in Philadelphia the Global Rugby Collaborative (GRC) was born. The innovative international network led by Play Rugby USA is the culmination of a big idea – seeking to unite and support Rugby4Good projects from around the world to create synergy, energy, and opportunity for all.

Check out the GRC’s launch video here (under 2 mins):

The GRC vision is “Together, Creating a Better World through Rugby,” while the GRC mission is “to create a world of better opportunities for young people, through rugby.” GRC member organizations, at launch, served over 18,000 young people a year across 37 countries, tackling some of the worlds most intractable social issues.

Are You Our Next Partner?

The GRC is seeking various shared-value partners–largely among corporations, other NGOs, government agencies and foundations to help deliver the mission across 5 primary functions:

1) CONNECT – pool knowledge capital, influence, and talents to benefit all members;

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2) ADVOCATE - promote organized youth rugby as a positive & influential community asset;

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3) DEVELOP - secure and strengthen partnerships and resources to meet member needs;

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4) SHARE - distribute knowledge, experience and best practices across all R4G projects;

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5) SUPPORT - bolster the community through various services to be created for members.

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The GRC is expected to expand to close to 100 members ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and is planning to host a Young Leaders member-based initiative at the Rugby World Cup in England in 2015. One of the GRC’s initial projects will be to establish an International Coach Training Program to build capacity, resources, knowledge, and sustainability among its members.

Get involved at the GlobalRugbyCollaborative.Org.

7 Core Values of “Go-Forward, High Performance Teams”

Last week I was honored to join 30 fantastic facilitators – under the leadership of my friend Lou Bergholz & Edgework Consulting – at the MIT Sloan business school’s annual team-building workshop. Together, we were “Facilitastic”!

As I supported two newly formed teams of 7 students over two days through a series of engaging but challenging team-building activities, it prompted me to reflect upon my experience competing on elite level rugby teams and how I have translated those learnings in business and coaching. Over the two days it was revealing to see that despite my two teams having completely different and extremely diverse skills sets, they still relied on the same core values to be successful. I identified 7 such values throughout the workshop, which I call the 7 C’s.

I have subsequently integrated these 7 core values (7 C’s) into a “Go Forward, High Performance Team Model”. A Go Forward, High Performance Team (GFHP) seeks to learn (from information available), to improve and develop (individually and as a team) and to never give up in achieving their ultimate performance.  There are four foundational components to a GFHP Team:

  1. A Culture Keeper
  2. 7 C’s / Core Values
  3. Balanced Roles
  4. Defined Process

Below, I define briefly the 7 C’s / Core Values that make up a GFHP Team (I will tackle roles and process at a later juncture). At the center of these values is a “Culture Keeper” – a Team Manager, Team Leader, Captain – someone responsible for balancing and operationalizing the team’s values (on and off the field) to develop high performance norms, expectations and processes.

 

Go Forward High Performance Team

 

The 7 C’s (Core Values) of “Go Forward, High Performance Teams”:

  1. Clear Goals & Roles: Vital to a team’s success is a clearly defined and understood goal of what the team needs to achieve and how each team member can contribute to that goal based upon their individual strengths and weaknesses. This is balanced with an understanding of individual team members’ needs and goals to help their personal development, commitment and contribution to the team’s long-term success.
  2. Communication: Specifically open, honest and transparent communication is key to a team’s success. Active listening is a key component of effective communication, as is the raising of red-flags as challenges arise in the team building or task execution process.
  3. Common Purpose: An effective team aligns its individual members, skills and beliefs towards a common purpose as a unit of collaborators. The common purpose will relate in part to the tasks needing to be completed by the team but must also be sensitive to broader environmental factors, such as organizational culture, systems, structures & processes, for example.
  4. Collaboration: Cohesion and cooperation within a team towards their common purpose is what enables a team to achieve more together than the sum of its parts could do individually. Sometimes, the highest performing teams will use collaboration and communication to create a team roadmap based upon the information available to them, when a common purpose or specific goal are not clearly defined.
  5. Commitment: An effective team needs to be committed to achieving its objectives. Commitment includes a “team-first, self-last” attitude but also appreciates the value in diversity that each individual brings to the team. Thus, there needs to be a commitment to support each individual team-member’s development as part of the broader team development process. This leads to increased skills, higher retention and improved performance over a longer term.
  6. Change Management: A successful team recognizes that the world can be ambiguous, complex and change is inevitable. Thus a team should constantly evolve and strive to predict, react & adapt to change. This reduces the materiality of external pressures that may otherwise arise and inhibit team performance at critical moments.
  7. Confidence: In addition to being an outcome from a healthy mix of the aforementioned core values above; confidence can also be developed through individual and team preparation and practice. Confidence – while not referred to as often in team-building literature – I would argue is one factor that can enable a team to out-perform expectations on paper, and deliver the ultimate in high performance performance results in practice.

There are clearly many models and theories available regarding effective teams. This is my own creation of a “Go Forward, High Performance Team” based upon a little research, combined with my personal experience on the field and in the office. More to come but in the meantime, I am interested in your thoughts….

Spirit of Rugby Awardees speak about their experience

Play Rugby USA interviewed their Summer Academy “Spirit of Rugby” awardees. The awards were presented to Zoila and Braulis for exhibiting rugby values on and off the field. I have listed a few of their quotes and embedded the youtube interviews below. Enjoy!

Spirit_Quotes_2013

Well done guys – we’re proud of you. Keep Going Forward!

Anything similar you would like me to share, please respond below!