The 2015 Rugby World Cup is over, but we are not done yet. 9 lessons seemed like such an odd number to stop our series. Therefore we decided to continue with at least one more and even in the subsequent weeks following the end of the world cup there are lessons to be learnt.
The reigning World Champions New Zealand continues to show the way forward in the rugby world and showing us in business how to improve our own businesses.
This weeks lesson: Succession Planning
In the wake of the world cup, there normally are several players who retire from the world cup. In South Africa this is called a player drain, akin to the supposed “brain drain” where all the highly qualified people tend to go work in other countries. Several players have announced their retirement from international rugby. Some will have a last hiatus and a big payday in the club rugby scene in England, Japan and France but their international teams will no longer be able to count on their services. This can cause havoc in the planning for the future of the different national rugby teams. However, no other team is as prepared for the player drain and retirements than New Zealand.
Already during the world cup we saw Sam Cane fill the legendary boots of Richie McCaw against Namibia as well as coming on as a substitute. Beauden Barritt is a ready made replacement for Dan Carter and in Kieran Read they have a talismanic personality to replace void that will inevitably be left by Richie McCaw when he decides to call it a day. All the key positions in the All Blacks squad have more than able replacements who have been waiting in the wings quietly doing their apprenticeships before being thrust onto the biggest stage.
In our businesses we can take a leaf from the All Black book with the following lessons.
Namibia recently implemented the VET levy to promote vocational training. The concept of doing an apprenticeship have all but died out in the modern vocabulary. However this concept has seen a resurgence in recent years with the UK even having an apprentice week this week. The point is this, in our organisations we need to identify talent and have them shadow the person who they may replace in the long run. By learning as much as they can from the person they need to succeed they will be ready to fill key positions as soon as they become available.
2.) Focus on their strengths
For years Kieran Read showed the potential to lead the All Blacks without being placed into that role. In the meantime he has excelled in his role, winning the World Rugby player of the year award in this time. There is a case to be made that if he was given the captaincy that he may not have been able to focus on his own game and his growth as a player may have been stunted. Thus in our organisations we need to allow the natural successors to focus and grow their own skills before being put into the key positions.
3.) Pay attention to the workforce composition
Sir Alex Ferguson wrote in his recent book Leading that at Manchester United they constantly kept analysing the make up of the first team squad to ensure that they won’t be caught out when players get injured, lose form or retire. Making sure that the average age of the squad is not too old or too inexperienced. Bleeding youngsters into first team action before relying on them to deliver week in and week out allowed them to keep the talent conveyor belt running. Similarly we need to pay attention to the make up of our workforce. Having several people close to retirement may be a threat to the company if it is not handled correctly. Similarly, have several inexperienced managers in key roles could have a long term detrimental effect.
Assessing, growing and managing talent to ensure business continuity is key to making companies more successful in the long run.