Great team qualities elaborated upon at Market Probe seminar

MUMBAI: "A winning team is preferable to a team of winners. Lessons on success are not dissimilar whether one is a housewife, a mountaineer or a cricketer. Great teams combine ability with attitude and passion." These words of advice were spoken by cricket commentator cum speaker Harsha Bhogle last night. .

The event was a seminar Customers And Winning Ways that was organised by multinational market research and consultancy agency Market Probe India. The aim was to give the corporate gathering insights into lessons of great teams that could be imbibed so that they could improve the state of their business.




Bhogle of course gave the examples of cricket teams like India, Australia and the West Indies to illustrate examples of success and failure. He started off by issuing a warning " The excuses for failure are many. A great team when it is in a slump does serious introspection. They are harsher on themselves than their worst critics. They also know that success is not forever and at the same time failure is not fatal. They go back to the basics and examine what exactly it is they are trying to accomplish. Egos are discarded. Stringent goals are set which come hell or high water must be reached..

"Winning teams also introduce positive turbulence. In 2002 Australia dropped the Waugh twins after failing to reach the finals of a triangular series that also involved New Zealand and South Africa. They understood that that team was never going to win in South Africa. They also made way for innovation by practicing on baseball pitches and doing relay throws from the boundary ropes. On the other hand the English cricket team that visited India in 1993 was very mediocre.

"They already had an excuse in hand for the three defeats in the test series even before play started. 'It was not the quality of the players but the quality of the prawns we ate.' Similarly the Indian team can keep complaining about the quality of the New Zealand tracks and ignore the fact that they simply failed to prepare."

Bhogle also said that one of the main differences between good and great is that any great team views winning as a path that they walk on not a destination. If it is just a destination then there is a danger that a void will be created. Tiger Woods for instance views his golf swing as a work in progress. The great teams also realise that managing success is a different ball game from achieving it. One way to do this is to set new goals within the success one is getting. .

"For instance a team has won 14 one day matches on the trot. For the 15th match they only have to score 145 runs. The coach could tell the top four batsmen to act as if there were just six players in the side. Of course as Bill Gates once said success is a lousy teacher. It makes you believe that you cannot loose. If the Australian cricket team get arrogant that is the opportunity India could seize" Bhogle added.

A different set of goals needs to be set out. Individual goals must align with team goals. If they are not then the old foe egos come into play. " The great teams are determined to win every month, every day, every hour. They do their level best not to allow their competition to claw their way back even an inch if they can possibly help it. A winning team also creates an aura that intimidates others. For instance if a great FMCG enters a new territory those already present could start shivering. They might say, 'Hey! There is no way in hell I can beat this guy. Should I sell out my stake?' In their mind the battle is lost."

"That used to happen with the West Indian cricket team in the 1970's. The mere sight of the four fast bowlers along with Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, Gordon Greenidge ensured that there was a long line of opposition players hoping to bat at number nine. They gave Australia no hope at all."

Bhogle however had words of encouragement for those on the other side of the fence. Here motivation techniques become important. One of them could be videotape. When Australia toured India a couple of years ago the millions of Indian fans just knew that the Aussies would win. India did not have a prayer.

Naturally this created a concern for the coach John Wright who knew that this attitude would dampen the players morale. Therefore he approached ESPN Star Sports. The broadcaster created two tapes that the players could view. One of the tapes was the 2000 Champions Trophy match in Nairobi where Sachin hammered the living daylights out of Glenn McGrath. "That served as powerful reminder that Australia could be reduced to the level of Bangladesh" Bhogle said. What happened after that is the stuff legends are made of.

Another area that winning teams excell at is going beyond just systems and techniques. In this manner inspired performances are thrown up which the competition finds hard to match. "One cannot always play the book. If one does that then predictability will creep in." Bhogle added. As far as individuals are concerned Bhogle said that developing a second skill was crucial to survive in today's times when there are lots of people waiting to take one's place.

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