What the All Blacks Have that Aussie Business Needs

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Does your business resemble a football team?Australian business can learn a very valuable lesson from the dismal performance of the Wallabies last weekend and, conversely, the brilliant performance of the All Blacks. The New Zealand team that every Aussie loves to hate does one thing well (in addition to playing great football): they live their core values, both internally and publically.

In business, there is a myth that ‘core values’ are the internal values, and brand values are external values.  When, instead, they are one and the same.  This is something the All Blacks understand and execute brilliantly.

Brand values are what support the vision, shape the culture and reflect the company’s principals.  Don’t be mistaken, perks and rewards (or winning the Bledisloe Cup) don’t create a strong and unified culture – values do.  Along with many businesses, the Wallabies are focusing on their technical competencies at the expense of the underlying values that make a team, or company, run smoothly — brand values.

There are a number of advantages to having and living your company’s brand values.  Namely:

  • They guide the decision-making process.
  • They distinguish you from your competitors.
  • They are primary recruitment and retention tools.
  • They give your staff a guideline on how to behave.

In the article The Team We Hate to Love (Courier Mail p57: 25/08/14) Robert Craddock lists how the All Blacks live their core values:

  1. The senior members of the team sweep the dressing room floor after the game, keeping them grounded.
  2. They have a simple and powerful plain black jersey.
  3. They respect the game  (Richie McCaw conducted a post-game interview in a tie, Michael Hooper wore a beanie).
  4. Relatively speaking they don’t get paid much, proving that they play for passion and love of the game.
  5. They attack harder than any team in the world because they are living up to the expectations from their fans.  (Our neighbours from across the ditch are the only ones in the world to jeer if a player attempts a field goal.)*

So how does a business discover its brand values?

You may be thinking that Robert Craddock missed a few not-so-nice All Black values off his list, but the fact of the matter is that the All Blacks have a winning formula.  So how do you translate this success to your business? The trick is discovering, not prescribing, the right brand values for your business.  In the article, Aligning Action and Values, Jim Collins asserts that organisational values cannot be set, nor can they be instilled; they must be discovered and shared by everyone throughout your organisation. While this may sound somewhat mystic and supernatural, it is really anything but.

Anyone want to take a trip to Mars?

Collins believes the key is to start with the individual and proceed to the organisation.  With this in mind he developed the ‘Mars Group’:

Imagine you’ve been asked to recreate the very best attributes of your organisation on another planet, but you only have seats on the rocket for five to seven people who have a gut-level understanding of your brand values, the highest level of credibility with their peers, and demonstrate the highest levels of competence. 

Ask the Mars Group to list what they think the core values of the organization are. Then ask them the subsequent questions relating to each of the core values they have chosen:

  • Are they core values that you hold to be fundamental, regardless of whether or not they are awarded?
  • If you woke up tomorrow morning with enough money to retire for the rest of your life, would you continue to hold on to these core values?
  • Can you envision these values being as valid 100 years from now as they are today?
  • If you were to start a new organization tomorrow in a different line of work, would you build the core values into the new organization regardless of its activities?

But be warned: unless your values are aligned with your purpose and aspirations, you are simply wasting your time.  Collins states: “There is a big difference between being an organization with a vision statement and becoming a truly visionary organization. The difference lies in creating alignment… When you have superb alignment, a visitor could drop into your organisation from another planet and infer the vision without having to read it on paper.” A little like the All Blacks and their all black jerseys.

If you want your business to play like an All Black, call Nicola Dent-Votier on 0466 980 076, or send us an email

*Before you send 9 Strategic hate mail (or a diatribe explaining why these statements are not true) please note that I am paraphrasing Robert Craddock.  Any comment can be sent directly to him via the Courier Mail, Brisbane.