Roar!

Lions badgeFor those rugby fans among you – and virtually every New Zealander – the British and Irish Lions touched down in Auckland this afternoon.

They are here to play ten (daunting) games, including against all five NZ Super Rugby franchises and three All Black tests. I can hardly wait!

A Lions tour to NZ is special. It now only happens every twelve years….and the Lions have only ever won one series, way back in 1971. It’s going to be a tough gig.

I’ve recently been getting into the mood by listening to interviews with various Lions from past tours. Much of the material on offer understandably focuses on the last NZ tour, back in 2005 (when the Lions got well and truly thumped) and what went wrong….and how on earth can they win this time round.

One interview stood out to me – Matt Dawson with Sir Ian McGeechan1.

(I should explain, for those that don’t know, that ‘Geech’ is perhaps the most successful Lions Head Coach there has ever been).

Dawson was asking Geech about an incredibly tricky task – the process of selection (i.e. which players from the ‘squad of four nations’2 would get to play in a test).

GeechSir Ian explained that he would sit down with his team of coaches (perhaps five people) and work through all the analysis and then discuss, often for hours deep into the night. He provided this wonderful insight:

I’ve never voted in picking a test team, [I’ve] always talked it through until we get to what we want to see and are comfortable with.”

He doesn’t even mention that, as Head Coach, he had the power to force his views through (i.e. not even go to a vote)…because that’s not how he thinks.

I love the fact that (when he was the Head Coach) they never voted!

This fits really well with a few of my earlier posts:

Talk-back radio which has a dig at people using their opinions;

“What I think is…” which talks about moving from opinions to knowledge; and

Catch-ball which talks about moving from the (predictably) divisive process of ‘consultation’, to the inclusive process of ‘catch-ball’.

If you’re reading the above and you are a ‘tough’, ‘command and control’, ‘conventional wisdom’ type of person, then:

  • you may judge me (and Geech) to be weak; and
  • you may argue that talking it through would take forever to make any decisions.

Yes, it takes a great deal of effort to reach a consensus…but that’s the point – it requires you to actually invest in those around you, to listen to them, to test your own thinking, to draw out theirs, to connect, to understand, to appreciate, to grow…and to make monumentally better decisions, for the longer term, together, towards your shared purpose.

Footnotes

1. Sir Ian McGeechan (‘Geech’) is perhaps the most respected/revered/ loved Lion ever. He played for the Lions in 1974 and 1977 and then coached them in 1989, 1993, 1997 and then again in 2009.

He also coached the ‘mid-week massive’ during the 2005 tour of New Zealand whilst Sir Clive Woodward was Head Coach. Woodward (in my view) is a very different man to Geech.  Sir Clive ‘decided’ things, and often wouldn’t budge in spite of the advice being offered to him….which didn’t turn out too well.

2. The Lions are made up of the very best players from each of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

3. For long-term blog readers, you may recall from an earlier post that I would be torn as to which team I will be supporting. I have the good fortune to be going to the 3rd test in Auckland on 8th July with my oldest son, and with some great mates (thanks Jonesy!)

Let’s just say that I will be wearing red, and my son will be wearing black – which I think fits rather nicely with our past and our future.

4. As a bonus for reading this far 🙂 , here’s another nice ‘Geech’ quote to ponder regarding selecting the right people:

“It’s what’s happening off the ball that you watch….I spent as much time watching players off the ball as I did on the ball…Who’s putting themselves into the game? What’s happening off the ball? Who’s stepping up trying to make a difference when the team are under the cosh?”

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….because I wanted to!

nz mapSo something really important happened to me yesterday evening – I became a Kiwi!

“What’s so good about that?” you might ask…

The Back-story:

I was born and raised in the UK which (for the avoidance of doubt) I still love.

However, I have happily been a permanent resident of New Zealand for 8 awesome years. There was no pressure on me to go further and apply for citizenship. Indeed, to do so would require a bit of effort on my part and some money to pay the Ministry of Internal Affair’s administration costs.

The Citizenship Ceremony:

There were about 180 candidates for citizenship, representing over 30 different countries.

The ceremony kicked off with an excellent performance from a Kapa Haka1 group.

The Mayor of our city, ably assisted by a linguistically impressive2 MC, presided over the ceremony and did a brilliant job of welcoming us, making us feel at ease, running a tight ship for oaths/ affirmations, certificates, photos (and trees!3) and finally congratulating us.

The National Anthem was sung.

But, just before the National Anthem, we watched a short video….

The insight:

…and within that video was a welcome from the Hon. Peter Dunne, Minister of Internal Affairs.

He nicely put into words that, as New Zealand residents, we are already entitled:

  • to stay indefinitely, to work and to study;
  • to healthcare, education and social security, as citizens are; and
  • to vote

and that this is not the case for all countries around the world4.

…and as such, we’re not becoming citizens in exchange for such rights – it isn’t for personal gain (in a ‘do this to get that’ kinda way), it is because we want to!

Indeed, some people will be choosing to surrender citizenship5 from their country of birth.

Now, I hadn’t formalised it as such…but, yes, Mr Dunne had ‘hit the nail on the head’. There was no need to become a citizen, but we feel part of this community and want to belong to it.

Now, for those of you reading the above thinking “that’s very nice and all that…but you usually write about organisations – what’s gone wrong this time?”…here goes:

The analogy:

Yep, you can see where this is going: Many an organisation uses the ‘do this to get that’ logic on its people throughout its management system:

  • meet these targets to get this reward;
  • put yourself forward to win this competition;
  • act in this way to win this quarterly/ annual award
  • search out, and apply for external awards to gain hierarchical kudos
  • ….etc.

In fact, they do so as if this is all rather obvious, and the only way to go about running an organisation.

But all of these things are extrinsic. They aren’t because you want to, they are because you want the prize available for complying with their wishes. This reminds me of a very early post I wrote titled ‘Don’t feed the animals’ which sets out and explains the point.

The reverse logic is to provide the people with what they need to thrive (with no strings attached)…and they will blossom…and they will want to belong. This is all about the environment:

…which will create:

People will come to love such an organisation, will want to belong, and will want to give of their all. How many organisations can honestly claim that?!

For you skeptics out there, such a transformation is:

  • possible, desirable, worthwhile and (as a side effect) profitable; and yet
  • impossible without a fundamental change in thinking.

Where would you choose to work (or live)?

Post script:

I texted a very good friend just after the ceremony: “All Blacks supporter now!”

ABs vs LionsHis response was:“All Blacks over the Lions?”

Damn, I hadn’t thought about next year’s Test series. This might take a little bit of time and emotional baggage to work through!

Footnotes:

1. Kapa haka is the term for Māori performing arts and literally means to form a line (kapa) and dance (haka).

2. 30+ different countries results in amazingly different names to be read out!

3. Every family grouping is presented with a native ‘baby tree’, to plant at home. We’ve got a spot in our garden already sorted.

4. Where this is a particular bone of contention for Kiwis living in Australia.

5. Some countries forbid multiple citizenships, and therefore require you to renounce your citizenship if you want to change to another.

6. You may not think they are random…but if they don’t take proper account of variation, then they are.