So, with the 6 Nations upon us and the dust settling on the World Cup, what lessons can business managers and leaders learn from Stuart Lancaster’s England’s dismal results?

1/ It’s all about customers!
Ever tried to win a rugby match without the ball? England tried – and failed. The successful teams had a strong scrum, line out and a dynamic No 7. England had none of these due to poor selection. Having the ball is no guarantee of success, but you won’t win without it.
Ever tried to run a profitable business without customers? Having customers is no guarantee of success but you won’t win without them…
Don’t lose sight of who and how you win customers – and ensure your business equivalent of the scrum, line out and open side are some of the best around.

2/ Be prepared!
The best sporting interview I’ve ever heard was Stuart Lancaster on 5 Live a few months into his tenure as England coach. He was asked at one point what his favourite Coaching book is. Without hesitation he said Bill Walsh, “The Score Takes Care of Itself”.
Bill Walsh was the genius behind the San Franscisco 49ers near monopoly of American Football in the late 1980’s and it is a great book.
But one of the key messages from the book is that the coach and the team should have anticipated, planned and rehearsed every scenario they might come across, so no decision on the pitch will ever be panicked or emotional.
Fast forward to Twickenham versus Wales, 3 points down, 2 minutes to go, reserve hooker on, goal kicker not looking like missing, and England’s captain looked like he made the decision to go for the line out there and then. The decision should have been made 6 months before in a training room.
What is your business strategy? What tactics will you employ in any given situation?
Will you be calm and collected or panicked and reactive?
Will you be Bill Walsh or Chris Robshaw?

3/ Beware of your over strengths!
When does one of your strengths become an over strength?
When you instill discipline in the England team following the off the field debacle of the 2011 World Cup, refuse to pick one of your big name players because he’s been convicted of assault… but then refuse to pick a key player because of an on the field disciplinary issue.
Dylan Hartley, now England’s captain, was England’s biggest miss and the reasons for his absence show the previous strength of instilling rules and discipline overshadow a more common sense approach to an internal rugby issue.
In today’s businesses there is huge pressure to place conformity over individual flair, but we need our Dylan Hartley’s (see point 1 above) and we need to find a way to be more tolerant of some than others without losing our principals – think Alex Ferguson and Eric Cantona.

4/ Stop looking for perfection!
England were still tinkering with their selections right up to the eve of the tournament. They had 4 years to find their best team and failed to do so. At some point, a line had to be drawn, a settled side established and played together on a number of occasions.
Waiting for that perfect set of circumstances before acting is usually a recipe for continued non action or acting, like England, when it is too late.
Don’t lose sight of the goal and don’t lose sight of the best chance you have of achieving it.
And waiting for the perfect moment is not a good percentage call, so is not the way forward.
Instead, seize the moment and live with the odd banana skin that comes your way.

If any of the above themes strikes resonates about your business, then please give me a ring to discuss for a free initial discussion.
I specialise in helping managers, leaders and owners regain their focus, get the best out of their team and to understand their numbers better – or, put another way, increase their profits.



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