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Thursday, January 19, 2006


McKeever: The Southern Spears Corporate Culture...........

Article by Tony McKeever, CEO of the Southern Spears.

I have seen the Willie Basson tome and missive and it is exhausting to read and penetrate the 80+ pages of biblical print.

Instead, the Southern Spears has authored its own "charter" or corporate culture and distributed it to its 3 unions leadership.

I happen to be in a paradoxical situation in that as custodian of the Southern Spears, one would imagine that I would need to be as prescriptive as possible to drive transformation and representivity of South African Rugby.

Instead, it has occurred naturally and I am absolutely awed by how rugby has brought our rugby communities and people together in a fellowship.

I expect another gathering of 15,000 people to demonstrate this point and if anyone is in the neighbourhood of East London on Saturday at 10H00 - get a RED something or other garment and come to the ABSA stadium and watch a festival of rugby - we will field over 150 rugby players with Border B playing EP B and then Border A playing EPA and then the Spears vs.s the Cats.

In Swellendam on the same day SWD have a game against Boland and will field another 44 players, so all in all we will have close on 200 senior elite rugby players playing on Saturday the 21st January - quite a statement for a mini franchise.

Here then is the Spears Charter.

Transformation Charter must be Our Corporate Culture

Too many organisations go about the wrong way in creating corporate culture change.

Corporate cultures are created by people and the change in corporate culture will only be changed by the people passionate about rugby in our three regions!

While there are many aspects and Steps that one can learn from corporate culture change, rather than pay lip service to a Transformation Charter, it needs to be dealt with in terms of execution, so that the Southern Spears and its three shareholder Unions, becomes a leader amongst rugby organisations in South Africa and abroad, quite simply because it represents some 2.5 million rugby supporters in this region and 10.5 million rugby supporters in the country.

I have suggested below, that there are Ten Steps that will help the Southern Spears and Border, Eastern Province and SWD, implement a new revitalised Rugby Corporate Culture and become respected organisations by our 3 Shareholder Unions executive, namely Border, Eastern Province and South Western Districts, our rugby clubs, schools, our Sponsors and rugby supporters. These are:

Step 1: Effective corporate culture change must begin with changing mindsets.

No change can be implemented without first a change in mindset. By changing mindsets, refer to the five components of mindsets, Blindspots, Assumptions, Complacency, Habits and Attitudes.

Changing mindsets is about uncovering blindspots with regard to areas for improvement. It is about questioning assumptions of thinking, behaviour and practices that are no longer relevant or useful. It is about reducing complacency in the workplace to increase innovation, productivity and performance.

Changing mindsets is about eliminating unproductive habits or practices that do not add value to rugby in our region. It is about inculcating a positive attitude towards oneself, work, people, the management and the Southern Spears as a whole.

With mindset change, one then is aware of the need to change the policies, procedures and practices accordingly.

Step 2: Successful organisations have corporate culture aligned to their visions, mission, strategies, goals and their environment.

It is generally agreed that the purpose of corporate culture is to develop an internal environment that is conducive for people to perform effectively. However, a corporate culture will only be relevant and useful if it is aligned to the Southern Spears vision, mission, strategies, goals and the external environment it operates in.

What this implies, is that the Southern Spears, must first get its vision and mission right before deciding on the desired corporate culture. Of course, having determined the right vision and mission it can then formulate the relevant goals and strategies.

In the case of the Southern Spears, the culture change led by our leadership, should focus on aligning the culture towards the new revitalised mission for Southern Spears to "Make It The People’s Team!" and become the best rugby organisation in the world.

Step 3: To achieve credibility and win commitment of people, policies, procedures and practices must be consistent with the new culture. Consistency is an important factor in gaining credibility of any change program.

Saying one thing and doing another thing is the surest way of losing credibility Once a new culture is identified and the desired core values and behaviour communicated to employees, it is important to simultaneously change the existing policies, procedures and practices in the workplace to align to the new culture.

Thus, for example if a new culture promotes openness, it is important to share information and disseminates relevant information freely and openly based on needs rather than hierarchy.

Step 4: To get a buy in of corporate culture change requires a strong rationale It is true that most culture change takes a lot of effort and time to overcome resistance. An effective way to overcome resistance is provide a strong, compelling and sound rationale for the culture change.

Such a rationale must often incorporate not just what is good for the Southern Spears but also for the individuals derived from the shareholders of the Southern Spears. It should also communicate to the 3 Unions staff, that such a culture should also add meaning to their work and bring about personal satisfaction in the process.

Step 5: To ensure company-wide internalisation of the new culture, the Southern Spears should utilise every channel of communication and every opportune occasion to promote and communicate the new belief system, core values and desired patterns of behaviour to every level of staff from the top right down to the lowest level of staff.

The Southern Spears should use formal and informal channels of communication to undertake influence and educate others on the new culture.

Step 6: To achieve deep and sustainable culture change, requires a participative approach. Culture change is by nature a deep and fundamental change.

Such a change requires not just opening up minds but also touching hearts, which is what the Southern Spears are about. Passion and Making It The Peoples Team! People must really not just think it but they must really feel it before they behave in the way of the desired culture.

As the saying goes, "People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care". Showing care goes beyond opening one's mind, it touches the heart.

Step 7: The commitment of the Southern Spears 3 Unions top management and Coaches, is essential for the success of culture change. The success of culture change requires union-wide acceptance.

A limited change in ways of thinking and working within a small unit or department does not constitute a culture change in organisation. To have company-wide practice of new corporate culture requires the commitment of the Southern Spears and the top management and coaches of Border, Eastern Province and South Western Districts.

Commitment here refers to not only the initial launching but the continued support and follow through.

Step 8: To speed up culture change leverage on "opinion leaders"

Every resource is needed to help speed up the culture change process. A good way to tap into the Southern Spears resource is to seek out "opinion leaders" to assist in promoting the new culture.

Step 9: Creating A Powerful Dream Of The New Culture – which is ‘To Win!’ Every great achievement starts with a powerful dream. There is a compelling force of change in creating a powerful dream for the Southern Spears and Border, Eastern Province and SWD. And great changes come from powerful dreams.

Nelson Mandela had a powerful dream when he said in his inauguration speech on the 10th May 1994, "When you touch the soil of our land you feel a powerful sense of renewal".

The Southern Spears has millions of supporters throughout the three regions who touch, fall and get up off the soil of our land on a weekly basis. Our Southern Spears Team will go out there and do it for us today.

It should come across as exciting, inspiring and worthwhile for everybody associated with the Southern Spears.

Step 10: Recognise and reinforce success early and frequently.

A culture change is an ongoing process and may take a while to see tangible results. Too often leaders wait too long before they start to recognise, reward or reinforce the motivation of people in the process of implementing culture change.

If the wait at Southern Spears is too long, people will run out of stamina and the interest will simmer down and the assimilation process will come to a halt. It is thus important to look up for "early wins" and "small wins" along the way of the Southern Spears culture change implementation and recognise and reward people to ensure they stay motivated.

Let’s link it to our Matches.

Let’s link it to our Southern Spears Team, to our Border, Eastern Province and SWD teams and their feeder clubs and schools and what they do for us.

Let’s link it to our Mobile Rugby Training Units.

Let’s link it to our four Coaches and their coaching staff.

Let’s link it to our 3 Unions and to the Southern Spears.

Let’s ‘Make It Our People’s Team!’

I like your Charter- have you read my piece on the Spears - on OORB- before the Cheetah game- please comment on it on OORB as I see it part of my mission to see real transformation in rugby- not just rent a black face to keep the politicians happy.

Will happily debate with you this transformation issue- race is but part of - unfortunatly the most visible part.
This is a brilliant piece of work, Tony. For too long people has thought of sport admin as to be different from business. Professional sport is business. This charter is definately the first step in the right direction. Congratulations  

Can I have Willie Basson's epic?

I can understand legalese due to years of intensive training in 'how to write bull excretion nobody but another lawyer would understand' seeing as I am a former lawyer.
that is why we dont understand you either davids, and explains your provincial affiliations...  
Great to have a breath of Fresh air in McKeever. Pity the Rugby is so poor. History will look back on this phase of SA Rugby as the saddest time. We can't get real transformation in the existing franchise so we try force a team out through politics to bring in the transformation. SA Rugby uses the low road again. I am so tired of SA teams fighting for last place on the log. Could we not have transformed our Rugby on the field before we introduce a new contender who is being set up to fail on the Rugby field regardless of how pretty the supporters look in red.  

Namibia is just a plane ticket away.....little man....
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