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company culture

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Andrew Hewison
Managing Director
3 Oct 2017

Who says fairytales don’t come true? And even if you believe in them, would you believe they can come true two years running?

As an AFL tragic, to see the Richmond FC (and the Western Bulldogs last year) break a 37 year premiership drought to become 2017 Premiers brought a tear to my eye. Never before has a team come from so low on the ladder the previous year (13th) to claim the holy grail of Australian sport (apologies Rugby fans but it’s a fact).

So how did it happen?

Richmond are by no means starved of talent but the AFL educated will tell you that their opponents, Adelaide, were more deserving and had more star players on the ground.

To understand how this proud club conquered greatness, dig a bit deeper and you will understand that it took much more than the 22 players on the park. Football clubs are businesses and to achieve organisational success, the ingredients are the same.

Goal setting is key. Arguably Richmond’s premiership win began back in 2010 when a courageous Tigers CEO, Brendan Gayle, publicly shared Richmond’s strategic plan titled 3-0-75. It stood for three finals appearances, zero debt ($3m at the time) and 75,000 members. By 2015 this was all but achieved.

Although Gayle was a decorated Richmond footballer, the inner Richmond sanctum recognises him as a much better administrator. He, along with the AFL’s first female president, Peggy O’Neil, sought to instill a culture of innovation, leadership and investment in great people and facilities.

By the end of 2016 Richmond was succeeding off the field but not on. Brendan and Peggy had survived a challenge to their administration and now many were calling for the coach’s head. It was time for the coach to reflect on his and his team’s culture, otherwise his fate was sealed.

Hardwick sought to better understand his players and he asked the same of the club’s captain. This, clearly, was the final piece to the puzzle.

I find this story inspiring! Why?

  1. Gayle’s courage to share publicly the club’s ambitious goals, while the naysayers ridiculed him. Both individuals and organisations need to have defined goals, along with a plan to achieve them, in order to succeed.
  1. Recognition that strong leadership and culture was necessary off the field so it could feed back to the field was integral. Without the right culture, everything else falls into the lap of the gods.
  1. Gayle and O’Neal showed faith in their key people, namely, the coach! Hardwick was given the opportunity to reflect. And, to his credit, he allowed himself to be vulnerable, admit his shortcomings and subsequently grow. This says volumes about him and his employer.
  1. The culture created by the players on the field cannot be ignored. They proved that success is the sum of all parts put together. That individually you can do good things but together you can do great things.

Andrew Hewison is the Managing Director of Hewison Private Wealth. Hewison Private Wealth is a Melbourne based independent financial advice firm who believes in innovation and nurturing their employees to facilitate a thriving company culture.

Hewison Private Wealth is a Melbourne based independent financial planning firm. Our financial advisers are highly qualified wealth managers and specialise in self managed super funds (SMSF), financial planning, retirement planning advice and investment portfolio management. If you would like to speak to a financial adviser on how you can secure your financial future please contact us 03 8548 4800, email info@hewison.com.au or visit www.hewison.com.auPlease note: The advice provided above is general information only and individuals should seek specialised advice from a qualified financial advisor. The views in this blog are those of the individual and may not represent the general opinion of the firm. Please contact Hewison Private Wealth for more information.