October 27, 2015

What lessons can small businesses learn from the All Blacks?

As I write this on Tuesday morning, the result of the Rugby World Cup Final between New Zealand and Australia is still to be decided, however when you’re reading this you will already know the result (my guess is New Zealand by 5).

But even if they don’t win the final, the way the All Blacks have only lost 3 games (4 if they lose the final) since they lifted the World Cup in New Zealand 4 years ago. That is an incredible record in any sport.

So how do they do it and what can small businesses learn from this?

• Governance
• Player Welfare
• Game Plan
• Weather



In New Zealand there is a single ‘outcome’ that the entire New Zealand Rugby Union look to achieve, and that is to be the best Rugby Team on the Planet. Now, that may sound obvious, however if you look at some of the other international Unions, take the English Rugby Football Union, for example, they have a number of objectives which conflict with each other. The RFU still considers themselves a commercial, money making machine whereas the NZRFU is purely there for rugby purposes.

Small Business Lesson: When starting out in business, make sure that there is a vision. A singular outcome that all your business decisions are based around and make sure everyone else in the organisation does the same.


Player Welfare and Management

Because of their governance structure, the NZRFU have a high degree of control over their top level clubs so the Head Coach of the All Blacks can dictate, to a certain extent, how many games his Elite players will play per season and how the players are managed on their way back from injury. This means the players are in prime condition when they need to be for the All Blacks. Because of this ethos, all the players are aware of exactly what is expected of them and feel included in a wider agenda, pushing constantly for improvement to add help achieve the outcome.

Small Business Lesson: Make sure you look after your employees and ensure they feel part of the business. Inclusion is one of the best methods of ensuring a happy productive workforce. Make sure you also have a solid Employee Handbook that’s suitable for your business.


Game Plan

Because of the control the NZRFU have over the club structure, all the Super 15 Club sides play in a similar style to the All Blacks. This means that it is incredibly easy for new players coming into the All Black set up to integrate into the squad and immediately understand the style and type of game they will be playing.

Small Business Lesson: If you create a culture and way of training your employees in ‘your way of doing things’, then new employees coming into the business will integrate better and be more productive.



The pitches in New Zealand tend to be drier and harder than those in the northern hemisphere which will undoubtedly encourage a faster more flowing brand of rugby rather than the forward orientated, set piece battle we see in the northern hemisphere. Unfortunately there isn’t a great deal we can do about the weather up here.

Small business lesson: If you want better weather…don’t start a business in the UK!

What lessons can small businesses learn from the All Blacks?

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