May 1, 2012

Setting the Scene for Innovation

Winning is the state of mind. Having an inspiring goal to aim for and internalising it determines the outcome, where luck is not an option. Business, like sport, is about outdoing the competition. It’s about winning. Greatness and fame, that in turn attracts more fans and sponsors, or, loyal customers and best staff, is about winning more often.

Most of us have seen tennis greats at those deciding moments at Wimbledon and other Grand Slam venues. They are able to recover from a seemingly impossible position, where an ordinary player would have folded in. We don’t know why and it doesn’t matter that they have momentarily ‘slipped’. It’s human. What makes the difference is that in the end they deliver. Their inspiration is what legends are made of. But it is also a direct result of training – as much the mind as skill training. Many personal coaches refer to it as ‘visualising’. So, what can a business do to simulate this inspiration for its employees? Is an inspiring Vision important or is it just words?

Last week I picked up a book in my favourite second hand bookshop, ‘Coach’, a collage of Aussi Rules stories about great coaches and heroic team efforts inspired by them. One story, by Darren Crocker, ‘Setting the Scene’ made me think. Here is how Darren Crocker recounts it.

On the eve of the 1996 finals series the North Melbourne players were invited to attend a dinner at the MCG. The evening started with a dinner but there had been a whisper a guest speaker was going to have a few words. After dinner, coach, Denis Pagan, introduced a person who was familiar to all – Ron Joseph, who had been involved with the Club for many years, and advanced to the position of Chief Executive.

During his involvement, the club had gone from being the easy-beats of the ‘60s to one of the strongest and most successful clubs of the ‘70s, winning its first premiership in 1975 followed by the remarkable grand final reply win in 1977. The club had made every final since 1993, without winning the cup. Some would have suggested that the Kangaroos were the perennial bridesmaids. To the club and in particular, the more experienced players, time was running out and they needed to do something about it before the moment had passed them by.

It had to be now while they had a terrific blend of youthful enthusiasm and priceless experience. It was just a matter of it all coming together at the right time.

Ron touched on all this and his words were inspiring. But his actions spoke even louder. Without the actions, it might have been just another guest speaker. After dinner he led all players through the pathways deep beneath the MCG and onto the playing surface. It was pitch black as he led them to the centre of the ground, letting the eeriness of the moment sink in. Once they were all in the centre, Ron painted a mental picture of what it would be like standing there holding aloft the premiership cup, in the AFL’s centenary season. It that wasn’t enough, he then leaned down and pulled the 1975 premiership cup (the first won by the Roos) from a bag.

Each player was told to hold the cup like they would on grand final day, not saying a word, just realising the tremendous opportunity ahead and the determination not to let another finals campaign pass.

Darren Crocker remembers how he could feel this was going to be a different game, one of belief, both self and collective, and one of absolute dedication and sacrifice to the team performance. Not worrying about your own agenda, only that of OUR agenda – the premiership.

They drifted off into the night, without a word being uttered. They didn’t need to speak. They knew what had to be done – and they did it!

When it was last time you’ve heard about the company’s Vision from your CEO or MD? What can your business pull out of a bag to help your team visualise great success? An inspiring Vision, personally delivered and explained to the team would be a good start. Can a big picture, showing everyone their unique place on that podium and the role they play in the winning team, do it?

Countless examples of extraordinary human achievement delivered where outcome mattered, prove it.

Revisit your Vision today!


InnoFuture helps organisations establish systems and processes to inspire and engage employees and foster innovation.

In the ever changing world of business models InnoFuture remains unbiased because there is no one-fits-all-business-model or to address your unique needs. Instead, we help you bring your Vision and your Competitive Advantage to life through purposeful training, coaching and building focused employee networks. If you want to improve your organisation’s performance through innovative culture, we can help.

Contact: Margaret Manson or 0407 661 130.