As an 18-year old, some months before leaving home for University, the Badger broke a leg playing rugby. It put paid to playing, but it has never blunted the Badger’s passion for the game. These days the Badger’s very much a spectator, either in the stands at Twickenham or the Stoop, or when games are on television, and admiration for those that play at Premiership and International standard has never diminished. So, when England won against New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final last weekend, the Badger was thrilled – to say the least!
In the afterglow, the Badger was struck by the parallels between England’s performance and his own learning from a career in the IT sector focused on ‘delivery’ and driving large project teams to succeed. The England camp had a plan and everyone – coaches to players – were fully aligned and believed in it. The plan wasn’t thrown out of the window when events on the field put it under strain. The England team played for each other, stayed focused, held their discipline when confronted by difficulty, and they were all hungry to be winners. If you can achieve the same dynamics in a team that is developing, integrating, testing and delivering software and IT systems for clients under tough contracts then the chance of success is high.
A Project Manager (PM) once told the Badger that leading IT intensive delivery was all about process, numbers, planning tools, measurement, and having a leader who is direct and intransigent. The PM had these attributes and claimed to be a good PM. The Badger, however, pointed out that the evidence was that the PM’s projects failed more often than succeeded, and drew the PM’s attention to the following quote by Sir Clive Woodward, Head Coach when England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003:
‘Concentrate on measuring performance and winning will take care of itself’. That is a brilliant excuse for coming second’.
Not long afterwards the PM changed career.
In the Badger’s experience, the best delivery leaders know that teamwork rather than individuality is crucial for success. Michael Jordan has put it aptly:
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
Delivery is about people and teamwork, and the latter needs more than just the skills and talents of individual people. It needs everyone to have a common motivation and mindset even though they are individuals with unique personalities.
So, if you aspire to be an IT delivery leader then firstly remember that success is not determined by you individually, it’s determined by the creation of an ‘us’ mentality in all the people involved. Secondly, put as much effort into the psychological development of your team as you do into plans, process, measurement and numbers. It will pay dividends. Embrace these two points and you will have awesome job satisfaction when success happens, just like the England team if they win the Rugby World Cup on Saturday!