Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lessons From the World Cup 2010: An interview

In  this interview with Heideli Loubser, Mario and Desmond Denton reflect on the  2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the lessons to be  drawn from it.  Heideli: Mario, being involved with  HR and people and change management for over twenty years, what would  you define as the core value that led to the success of this World Cup?

Mario: Beyond a doubt, teamwork.  Ryunsuke Satora states this beautifully by saying that “Individually,  we are one drop. Together we are an ocean.” Winning the rights to  host the World Cup was only the beginning. For us to be able to succeed  we had to work together.  The people of South Africa were the “true  stars” of the World Cup, after they united to prove that South Africa  was capable of hosting a world-class event.  Soccer is a team sport. A star individual  can be a great benefit, but without a team…his/ her efforts will have  little effect. Superstars or not, we all have a role to play. Team spirit  beats individualism. "Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence  wins championships," said Michael Jordan. It is fascinating to  see how people can sit around and expect others to take action.

People  get stuck in the bystander effect. 
Heideli: The bystander effect?  
Mario:  Yes, the bystander effect is a social psychological phenomenon in which  individuals are less likely to offer help in an emergency situation  when other people are present. The probability of help is inversely  proportional to the number of bystanders. In other words, the greater  the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them  will help. Do nothing, and nothing gets done; do  something, and many things get set into motion. A body in motion tends  to stay in motion, and a body at rest tends to stay at rest. We can't  sit around expecting others to do the rescuing. We have to break out  of our inertia and take action. I am truly passionate about people and  their energy potential and want to encourage people to truly live a  successful and even significant life. With this World Cup we saw how  people from all over opened their hearts and welcomed the world in a  great spirit.

We all have a role to play. Inside all of us is the potential  for greatness.

Heideli: It is clear that you are  excited about the potential in individuals. Do you think we often look  past this crucial point of developing ourselves and our country? 
Mario:  Indeed, It is crucial that we know our team members' design, to align  a “player's position to his talent”. In line with their physical  strengths and talents, top soccer players sooner or later specialise  their game to become a goalie, a defender, a defensive or offensive  midfielder, or a striker. World Cup-winning sport coaches have a skill  for selecting a team line-up that brings out the best in each player  and the team. In an innovation project, you need to put the right man  on the right job, too. A balanced innovation team comprises a mix of  good theorists, explorers, visionaries, experimenters, collaborators,  promoters and organisers - and of course a good director that guides  and coaches the team. 

Ask yourself and your team the following  questions: What do you know about the personality type, the strengths  and weaknesses, the knowledge, skills and experience repertoire of each  person in your team? How can you reposition some “players” to boost  the performance of both the individual and the team?
And who is the  best man to coach your innovation effort? 

Heideli: Wonderful. That reminds me  of one of your favorite sayings Mario, that one stops learning only  on the day you die. What about you Desmond? Being a storywriter, what  will you remember best about this World Cup?

Desmond:  The value of failure. 
Heideli: What do you mean? 
Desmond:  Indeed, most cultures are all about winning, whether it is for an election,  rugby or even in films. It seems that the one thing that is drilled  into us daily is the value of winning. Yet somehow, we look at “losing”  on the other hand as a source of shame and bitterness. I recall sitting  in anticipation on July the 6th, 2000, awaiting the decision  on the hosting of the 2006 Soccer World cup. One vote abstained changed  the balance in favor of Germany. This was a big “failure” served  to South Africa who had worked hard on the bid. The hope of the African  continent was shattered in this moment. Yet, as in all good stories,  this was only the beginning. As all heroes in stories, South Africa  had to find the strength and courage to stand up again. Little did we  all know that by persevering in this goal we would soon experience a  miracle, and a story to be told for generations to come.  Another great example of this perseverance  can be found in the example of our own leader and icon, Nelson Mandela.  He spent a great deal of his life in prison for a dream, a dream to  unite a country. He said: “There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere,  and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of  death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.”  For 27 years all he could dream of was freedom, but little did he know  what his dream would entail. Mandela was driven in a small golf cart  alongside his wife Graca. He was welcomed by the loud noise of the roaring  crowd and vuvuzelas. "It's time for Africa!” 

The lyrics of the soccer theme song WAKA  WAKA resonates this truth in its lyrics:
You're a good soldier
 Choosing your battles
 Pick yourself up
 And dust yourself off
 And back in the saddle
You're on the frontline
Everyone's watching
You know it's serious
We're getting closer
This isn't over
The pressure is on
You feel it
But you've got it all
Believe it
When you fall get up

Heideli: Mario, now that the final  whistle has blown, where do we go from here? 
Mario:  Tackling the “character gap” must be our common goal. Many see Africa  as a dark continent, but it is actually a place of opportunity, a place  filled with incredible potential leaders standing strong in character  to make a significant difference.
“Coming together is a beginning.  Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” - Henry  ford.

Let's make the difference. Each and every one of us will need to  play our part in ensuring that change for the better does indeed come  about. Moaning, whining and apportioning blame will not solve the problem  and must be replaced with courage and action! As people care about integrity  and relationships, organizations will improve customer service, retain  good people, strengthen teamwork, and build goodwill in the community.  But the greatest benefits of a character emphasis come when a person  forgives instead of sabotages others, takes responsibility instead of  neglecting family members, or tells the truth instead of betraying a  customer's trust. 

We need men and women of honour, of character  from all ages and backgrounds to take advantage of the opportunities  that exist to make a difference. We all have incredible potential and  capacity to greatness, but only those who cultivate it will become truly  effective. Heideli:  In a recent interview in the McKinsey Quarterly, Deputy President Kgalema  Motlanthe illustrated the need for character training when he said the  following: “We are struggling ourselves, as a new democracy  in South Africa, to restore values  … Values are never a given. They have got to be developed, worked  upon, and consolidated on an ongoing basis. Because if at any given  time we as a society or as sections of society become complacent about  them, we run the risk of losing them…. We are therefore duty bound  to try at all times to bring to the fore the values that bring us together  as fellow South Africans, as human beings, united in our diversity.” 

What does this statement mean to you? Mario Denton:  The challenge raised by Our Deputy Minister is not a new one. As a diverse  country we have had a record of being very religious yet treating each  other in the most appalling ways. We have used our differences as an  excuse for checking our morals at the door when dealing with those different  from us. Our ability for doing this so well over the centuries and decades  that shaped our history has made us experts in believing one thing and  doing another.   But the real process of bringing this  country back to its moral center has to take place at different levels:  First and foremost, each and every one of us needs to go on a personal  journey of aligning our character with our actions.

Let me illustrate  this by using the iceberg analogy: It is said that an iceberg has over  90% of its weight below the waterline and only 10% of it shows above  the surface. The 90% that is below the surface is like the values in  our lives that shape our behavior. I am sure that many South African  leaders, when asked about character principles, claim to believe in  them. But upon closer inspection one finds that there is [a] big gap  between this belief in character principles and the reality of our actions.  Personal transformation is necessary on an individual level.

It is my strong belief that we can create  a moral society that is diverse and a true example for the whole world….

No comments:

Post a Comment