The independent commissioners’s report says;
1. The NZRU’s planning was thorough and professional
2. Winning the World Cup was however overemphasized
3. The team was underdone due to the conditioning programme, weak warm up opposition and weak pool opposition
4. The management team of 19 was too large
5. The on-field leadership model failed at critical moments
6. The referee and touch judges had a ‘significant adverse affect’ on the outcome of the game
I find it interesting the report the commissioners Don Tricker and Mike Heron produced outlines little more than a few of the differences between this campaign and previous campaigns, but because the AB’s recorded their earliest exit since the tournament began, they have presumed these differences to be the ‘cause’ of the failure.
The only thing the report sheds any meaningful light on in my opinion is the fact the authors appointed have insufficient knowledge of the principles that govern human performance to conduct a comprehensive review.
As I suggested would be the case (Issue 1, October 07), this report has failed to provide any meaningful insight as to what really went wrong inside the All Blacks outside the realm of common sense and so, for the sake of continuing the conversation, I have provided an alternative synopsis of each of the above mentioned points.
Alternative ‘Craig Steel’ Synopsis
1. Whilst the planning may have been ‘professional’ it certainly wasn’t thorough otherwise the AB’s would have at least made the final. My reason for this comment is based on the fact that the AB’s were the best rugby team in the world for the three years leading up to the World Cup (hence the reason they were favourites to win).
2. The only reason to suggest winning the World Cup was ‘overemphasized’ was because they didn’t win it. The reason they didn’t win was because they didn’t cope with the so called pressure and as a result, capitulated mentally (i.e. they were unable to access their considerable and recognised physical capability/potential).
3. To say the team was ‘underdone’ due to the conditioning programme and build up is in my opinion misleading however it is the closest the commission gets to providing an accurate answer. The AB’s did not fail due to a lack of physical preparation. They failed because they were incapable of creating an appropriate mind-set (as was evident in all of their pool games and indeed the entire campaign). The reason this critical ‘insight’ has been left out may be for the following reasons 1) they do not understand nor appreciate its significance and/or 2) because the experts tasked with the responsibility of teaching the All Blacks ‘how to think’ in order to win failed to deliver what was required of them yet again.
4. To say the management team was too large is an automatic response to the recorded failure. If members of the management team either doubled up, created uncertainty or confusion amongst the team fair enough, however they must have had sufficient understanding regarding their specific roles prior to departure otherwise they wouldn’t have been included or, at the very least, one would imagine concern would have been raised and yet all players (virtually without question) said the campaign (build up) was, in their opinion, exceptional hence the reason they couldn’t understand what went wrong (it is possible the size of the management team added to the so-called pressure). Whilst 19 managers may seem on the face of it to be an over supply, I would like to think AB management had sufficient reason to justify their inclusion and proceed with it.
5. The on-field leadership did not fail at critical moments (during this particular game). It was lacking from the outset i.e. evident from the moment the AB’s arrived in France.
6. It is fair to suggest the referees did not have their best game however the AB’s lost because of the way they played, not because they were consistently, deliberately or wrongly denied.
In my opinion the failure was not caused by the above mentioned points. The reason the All Blacks failed was because of their complete inability to create the necessary mind-set required to win the tournament (interestingly enough, it is the exact same ‘issue’ that derailed their three previous campaigns but not surprisingly, because of the way the reviews were conducted, the vital lessons that needed to be learned were not). We only need look at the All Blacks’ performance over the 24 to 36 months leading into the campaign to highlight this point. During this time they were virtually unbeatable. Their skill sets and physical capability didn’t suddenly disappear when they arrived in France, they were simply unable to create the right mental state required to use them.
Needless to say, I believe the team was well prepared for the tournament physically. I accept the conditioning programme proved to be extremely costly but not in terms of the impact it had on their chances of winning the World Cup, but rather because of the impact it had on the Super 14 and 2007 rugby season in general.
This being the case, why are we not hearing more about the mental side of things? I believe it is because those commissioned with the responsibility of assisting (and incidentally, those who would otherwise be considered qualified to make comment on this matter) must be either too embarrassed to admit they failed again or they remain at a loss as to understand why they failed again.
It may be worth explaining two key factors which I believe need to be considered in order to make sense of this debate; 1) athletes cannot ‘outperform’ their mental state and 2) most coaches, sport psychologists and technical advisors continue to make the mistake of assuming that if athletes ‘appear’ happy and/or confident, everything must be in order and yet, as the campaign results illustrate, it shows how inaccurate this assumption is.
The criteria most professional coaches use to justify psychological intervention (as outlined above) is completely inadequate and yet it is still in use today. The only criteria that should be considered is how efficiently and consistently athletes can access their potential.
There has also been speculation the All Blacks appeared ‘complacent’. It is important people realize their apparent response (complacency) didn’t provide any accurate indication as to the level of their commitment. The All Blacks wanted to win, they desperately wanted to win. However, the reason they couldn’t up the anti when they needed to was because they were severely hindered (psychologically immobilized) by what by then had become a deeply seated fear based state. This is the reason why they didn’t, or more importantly, why they couldn’t use the many opportunities available to them during the course of the game to reset their state and therefore alter their approach or game plan (I suspect this is what the commissioners meant by the term ‘leadership failed at critical moments’).
The questions we need to ask are; did they not do this (reset their state) because they were not aware the ‘cause’ of their lack luster performance was psychological or was it because they knew it was psychological but they had no idea how to correct it? It would be interesting to know if the commissioners asked such questions.
There has also been plenty of discussion regarding the ‘pressure’ the All Blacks were under and that it played a significant part in their demise. It is important we understand any pressure athletes ‘feel’ is self induced. Pressure is not caused by (and is never caused by) external influences. It is an internal state caused by a person’s (team’s) fears about their ability/inability to perform. People only ever experience pressure when they know there are high expectations regarding a particular result i.e. they know people expect them to perform, they believe they should perform, but if they are fearful they may not be able to perform, they naturally experience pressure. Pressure, as experienced by the All Blacks, is caused by an inappropriate ‘fear based state’ but must be supported by the misinterpretation of expectation in order to be sustained (experienced) i.e. if athletes fail to use public expectation as confirmation of their capability and therefore additional leverage to excel, they will almost certainly experience pressure. In other words, people and/or teams do not experience pressure if no one expects them to perform. As we all know, most New Zealanders, and indeed most of the rugby world, believed the All Blacks had the potential to win and the players themselves knew this. This provided the necessary disposition required to create (experience) pressure.
At the risk of repeating myself, I believe the reason the All Blacks didn’t perform (win) was not because they lacked physical capability or suddenly ‘lost’ their ability (potential) to perform. It was because their state of mind was completely inappropriate for the task in hand (i.e. their state of mind proved to be nothing more than hopeful, wishful thinking. As I mentioned in Issue 1 – this was a case of blind optimism at its best).
Building Performance Capability
Firstly, what is performance capability? Performance Capability is the term I use to explain a person and/or team’s current ‘capacity’ to perform. As such, the term ‘building performance capability’ simply means increasing/improving an individual and/or team’s ability (capacity) to perform.
To ensure we give this topic the commercial consideration it requires, we need to go back to basics. As we all know, profitability is primarily a by-product of productivity and productivity is governed by performance (i.e. the quality and appropriateness of a person and/or team’s actions). The better people perform, the more productive they will be meaning the organisations they work for will have a greater chance of becoming or remaining profitable.
The only way organisations will remain profitable in the future (given the rate of increasing international competition in the market place) is by continually improving their productivity (output). The way companies generally think about improving productivity is to; 1) provide their people (workforce) with better, more advanced tools (technology) to help them produce more with the same degree of effort and in the same amount of time 2) ask their workforce to work longer hours (i.e. based on the theory that more man hours worked will produce more output/product) and/or 3) hope their people work harder (better/smarter) when they are at work.
It is interesting to note experts believe virtually all productivity gains achieved in the past 100 years can be directly attributed to technological advancements alone. Whilst technology will remain critical to growth, companies need to figure out how they can improve their productivity from their existing model. This of course necessitates companies asking themselves the question – how can we encourage/enable our people to produce more (increase their productivity/output) without increasing their working hours or upgrading the tools (technology) they are using?
Whilst it may on the face of it appear to be an easy question to ask, research shows it is proving infinitely harder to resolve. In fact, New Zealand’s productivity performance over the past twenty or so years has fallen so markedly compared with other OECD nations that we are, in David Skilling’s words, ‘poised to take on Antarctica’.
To give you an example David, who was until recently the head of the NZ Institute, recently released figures showing NZ’s productivity (output per man hour worked) was just under 80 units compared to the OECD average of 100, and yet the hours we worked to produce that output was 110 units against the OECD average of 100.
What this means is we New Zealanders are working longer hours than virtually any other OECD nation and yet our output per man hour worked is considerably less than virtually every other OECD nation. To put this into context, David says France produces around 145 units (remember NZ produces just 80) per man hour worked but because of their high levels of productivity, they only work on average 75 units a week compared to our 110.
Needless to say, this is a very serious issue and one we as New Zealanders must resolve if we are to remain competitive on the international stage. So getting back to the purpose of this discussion, how can we improve the productivity of our workforce?
All commercially focused managers know the obvious answer to this question is to increase/improve the ‘performance capability’ of their workforce. However, this naturally leads us into what is proving to be a perplexing and debilitating debate amongst management teams the world over. The reason for this is because the issues companies need to address is whether their particular performance ‘issues’ are caused by a lack of available skills or whether they are more to do with workforce (personal) attitudes and behaviours.
To examine this further let’s consider the following; if a person in your organisation isn’t performing the way you would like them to (i.e. delivering what is required of them), is it because they don’t have the necessary skills to complete the particular task or is it because they have the skills but for what ever reason they are not using them (i.e. they don’t care enough to do their job professionally or perform the task correctly)?
I have come to the conclusion most business leaders believe the majority of the performance issues they face that are inhibiting their growth and profitability are of an attitudinal nature rather than core skill deficiencies.
If and when we need to respond to a performance issue we must, if we are to ‘add value’ as a business leader, ask ourselves the above question i.e. is this a skill issue or is it a performance issue? If we do not ask ourselves this question, we will never place ourselves in a position where we can address or resolve the problem.
If the issue proves to be skills related, you need to ‘up-skill’ the individual concerned. This is why ‘skills based training’ needs to be managed (considered/implemented) on an ‘individual as and when needed basis’ unless new technology is rolled out across a team/department in which case group training is best.
If however the issue proves to be attitudinal, what then? Firstly, you need to ensure your have a robust and meaningful mechanism to engage and align your team (refer Issue 3 – February 2008 for further information or refer to our Strategic Performance Template on our website). Secondly, you need to establish a mandate (and implement the supporting process/framework) that gives managers, supervisors and team leaders the ability to challenge people’s performance.
It is important your managers understand the ‘mandate’ they require to challenge people doesn’t come with the territory. It is not an automatic or propitious right that is given to them as a superior and yet this assumption is, in my opinion, one of the fundamental reasons as to why so many seemingly competent managers fail to become effective leaders.
Improving the performance capability of a team is without question, one of the primary responsibilities of leadership. Unfortunately however most leadership teams are unsuccessful in this area and as a result, end up blaming their people (and their respective attitudes and behaviours) for their lack of growth or achievement.
To improve workforce performance, we must improve leadership performance. I believe it is wise to consider your ‘current’ workforce performance (productivity) to be the best indicator of your organisations leadership (management) performance. The reason for this is because the way your manager’s communicate, interact and perform (act and behave) sets the standards and approach your employees will inevitably follow and almost certainly adopt.
You may recall me asking the question in the March 2008 issue of Performance Talk, ‘do you believe your workforce is the key to your organisations success, or are they a resource you simply have to have?’
I suggest you ask your management or leadership team this very question in the context of ‘building performance capability’ to find out how committed they are to this particular aspect of their role and therefore gain greater insight as to how successful you/they are likely to be if you decide to pursue it.
To find out more about how we can help you increase the performance capability of your workforce, call us or visit our website.
Moss Burmester wins Gold
Moss Burmester wins Gold
Moss Burmester has become the first New Zealand swimmer to win an individual gold medal at the World Short Course Championships by claiming victory in the 200m butterfly.
Moss cruised through his morning heat to finish 6th fastest but led from the start in the final to win in a time of 1:51.05, a new World Championship record and only 3 tenths of a second off the world record.
Melissa Ingram finished 4th in the final of the 200m backstroke, just missing out on a medal. This result puts Melissa among the world”s very best showing she is on track to becoming a true world class swimmer.
Helen Norfolk also performed impressively, breaking the New Zealand record in every swim at the Championship in the 200m and 400m individual medley as well as the 400m freestyle.
We are in the final stages of preparation for the Beijing Olympics and will keep you up-to-date with our athletes” progress.
Over the past 8 years in real estate, I have made a conscious decision to attend as much training as possible. The two day compact programme I attended with Craig Steel was by far the best training course I have ever experienced. If you want to progress with a career in sales, attend this programme.
Exceptional – every motivated business leader should do it.
Completing this programme will make a permanent change to the way I perform.
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This is without question the best leadership course I have ever come across.
The programme was fantastic. I take my hat off to our management team for putting us through it. I think it is the best thing they have ever done.
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Craig Steel’s work is an essential point of difference to how our company does business.
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Having Craig engaged in our business has been transformational – not just for my team and business performance, but in delivering the kind of capability shift in individuals that is fundamental in today’s increasingly competitive environment. His insights and tools offer profound opportunity for change.
Since completing Craig’s programme four months ago we have achieved the best sales results in our ten-year history. We exceeded our quarterly sales target by 407% and improved our nationwide standing from tenth position to first
The potential for Craig Steel’s work in the business world is enormous
Working with Craig has been outstandingly beneficial for myself and my business. Craig’s skills within sport are totally transferable to business where leadership, responsibility and focus are prime requirements
Craig Steel is by far the most thought provoking presenter I have ever listened to. When he speaks his words resonate a depth of understanding that is instantly recognised. He not only provides the wisdom but gives you the ‘how’. Craig has a presence and knowing that is rare. His message was both inspiring and exciting in its simplicity and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to excel.
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Working with Craig was an instrumental factor in my return to form.
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Completing this programme has definitely given us a competitive edge. There is no doubt the programme will pay for itself over and over again as a result of the improvements we make. We certainly recommend it.
Craig Steel’s Strategic Performance Template is an extremely effective process while simultaneously being very straightforward to execute. It has provided us with an efficient way to connect the dots between our long term strategic vision and our short term goals, thus allowing us to clearly communicate our priorities and motivations to our team.
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Craig Steel’s performance improvement programmes are profound as they address the very essence of human performance
I used Craig’s performance improvement process in order to further myself as an international athlete. During that time his principles enabled me to improve my mental attitude (and understanding) tremendously, while my results improved dramatically.
Craig.s performance improvement programmes have been of immense value for our people whom we recognise as the ultimate foundation and drivers of our business.
Completing Craig Steel’s performance improvement programme has definitely lifted our performance. We have tripled our historical growth rate in the past year.
Craig’s coaching ability and depth of understanding allowed us to achieve the ‘almost impossible’. A major culture change has occurred within our company.
Thoroughly enjoyed it – an invaluable, and life changing experience.
Of all the training tools I have ever used, Pro-Sport has had the biggest impact on my performance by far. I consider Craig to have been a key factor in my success this season.
Completing Craig Steel’s Strategic Performance Template enabled our partnership to identify and align around a unified strategy as well as providing a mechanism to successfully communicate and implement that strategy: this process has helped us generate a real change in focus as we move towards a high performance culture.
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We completed Craig Steel’s Strategic Performance Template under his guidance and achieved a fantastic outcome. The simplicity and clarity of his template enabled us to gain rapid alignment around a coherent strategy and goal set.
I consider myself extremely fortunate as an elite member of the national swimming team to have had access to someone of Craig Steel’s calibre while living and training in New Zealand.
Even though we have a lot of talented people here, Craig has helped us to be better than we would otherwise. People are a lot closer to the business, a lot more focused. We’ve had more than tenfold worth of benefit out of him.
The result we achieved from the two day strategic planning process Craig Steel ran for our Executive team was remarkable.
This is without question the best performance training programme I have ever encountered.
Improving the performance capability of our leaders has been a key strategic driver for us in recent years. Craig’s extraordinary process and obvious ability have proven such an effective combination, we have made it our primary leadership development tool.
Craig’s impact on our business has been invaluable. Our sales are at an all time high and our profitability the best it has been in years. I highly recommend any organisation seriously committed to developing the performance of their people take the time to speak with Craig.
Craig’s programme was immensely valuable and will return us significant long term benefits.
Craig Steel’s programmes are not for the faint hearted. They are not designed to help enthusiastic amateurs improve. These are world-class programmes designed for companies who are serious about performance become true international champions.
Succeeding at the highest level in sport requires more than just physical ability; athletes have to be equally as strong mentally. Craig’s extraordinary insight and understanding of performance makes this process achievable.
Pro-Sport is the most logical and powerful mental training programme I have ever seen. The impact it has had on my top students is dramatic. I highly recommend coaches use Craig’s programme to prepare their elite athletes for competition.
The two day Sales Manager programme we completed with Craig Steel was in my opinion (after twenty two years in real estate), the most thought provoking and inspiring I have attended. The wisdom, knowledge and ‘know-how’ is something that will affect all facets of my life. If you have a desire to succeed in sales, this programme is a must.
Working with Craig on an on-going basis provides me with the additional performance tools necessary to succeed.
You have created a product others in the leadership training and development arena either can’t or won’t attempt to enter … immensely valuable.