Learning and Legacy

John's Journal: Learning and Legacy

On the road again!  It’s my first trip abroad this year (2016) and I ’m admiring the snow-covered scenery in Sweden, en route to Sandvik in Hallstahammar.  I can’t wait to catch up with Anders, Enver and Kicki, the Delivering Service Excellence (D.S.E.) team at Hallstahammar and to continue to roll out the programme seminars this coming week (Week 7).

I have also had the opportunity to read a fantastic book today by James Kerr, “Legacy; What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About the Business of Life”.  Published in 2013, this book provides a wonderful insight into how the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team, have established themselves as one of the world’s most successful sporting teams and this of course prior to them winning the Rugby World Cup again in 2015!  As a rugby fan, and a fan of Richie McCaw the talismanic captain of the All Blacks who retired at the end of last year, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and how it illustrates what the All Blacks do to be the best.

Kerr challenges the reader to think how they might be able to learn from the All Blacks journey in recent years.  The chapters focus on a range of different topics, all of which show how leadership and team working are key to the success of the All Blacks.  Recurring themes about humility, adaptability, clarity of purpose, responsibility and a commitment to learning “kick off” the book, with the second half focusing more on preparation, coping with pressure, authenticity, sacrifice and legacy.  A brilliant read which is full of learning for the “corporate world” and life beyond.  The “wee stories” are fantastic too and bring a very human element to the All Blacks approach.  The senior players’ commitment to sweeping up the changing room after a bruising Test Match; the leadership teams taking responsibility for planning, doing and reviewing on and off field activity; mentoring new recruits to the squad; and Ritchie McCaw’s notebook as a working document, a library of affirmations, mantras, notes-to-self, reminders, exhortations, expectations, anchors and priming words and so on!

Without trying to rewrite the book, some of the key references Kerr includes which made me think and reflect, are;

  • “What you leave behind is not what is engraved on stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others”, Pericles, Greek Statesman
  • “Vision without action is a dream.  Action without vision is a nightmare”, Japanese Proverb
  • “The first stage of learning is silence, the second stage is listening”, Maori Wisdom
  • “Let the questioning continue; the ability of the person is in asking questions”, Maori Wisdom
  • “The being of team”, Gilbert Enoka, Mental Skills Coach
  • “Be a good ancestor.  Plants trees you’ll never see”, Maori Wisdom
  • “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth”, Muhammad Ali
  • “For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack”, Rudyard Kipling
  • “Humility, Excellence and Respect”, Core Values, All Blacks
  • “Our social footprint is the impact our life has, or can have, on others’ lives”,  James Kerr
  • “Better People Make Better All Blacks”, Brian Lochore, ex All Black

“Better People Make Better Leaders”.  The simplicity of this message permeates through Kerr’s book and certainly challenges me to link my learning back to the D.S.E. programme and the project at Sandvik, Hallstahammar.  It’s all about developing people and relationships at work, both internally and externally.  It’s about bringing excellence to service delivery every day, and creating an environment where honesty and humility coexist and where people are given an opportunity to learn, lead and share what they think. 

Although rugby has a low profile in Sweden, the Swedes are big sports fans and will always claim to be the best ice hockey nation in the world!  My Finnish friend Peter will certainly not agree!   Still, rugby or not, the lessons outlined in “Legacy; What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About the Business of Life” are so real, relevant and valuable to us as individuals and team members.  “Delivering Service Excellence” is very much focused on developing people and relationships and “winning the challenge” every day!  As Kerr acknowledges, the All Blacks are committed to marginal gains, where 100 things done 1% better deliver cumulative competitive advantage.

In sharing my learning with Anders, he confirms that the D.S.E. programme is having an impact on people, relationships and performance.

”The yearly customer survey (i.e. from our sales organisation) shows us that we are on track to our journey towards service excellence. 70% of our (internal) customers think that we are supplying a good or very good product (comunication, technical support, lead time, quallity, compared to 30% in 2013. General comments like “….I see positive progress…” are given along with comments on where we can, and should, continue improving our performance. Our organisation is today, frequently talking in terms of service, excellence, internal customers, etc, which was not that common a few years back!”

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