With Emirates Team NZ taking out a resounding victory to secure the Auld Mug once again, we can learn important messages that can be applied to the world of business:
1) Size doesn’t always matter. NZ had the smallest budget but used cohesion and focus to overcome the disadvantage of not having endless dollars to splash around.
2) Innovation is essential. The NZ team introduced innovations as a disruptor challenging many of the ‘givens’ in yachting.
3) Learn from past failures but keep them in the past. NZ squandered their lead in the last America’s Cup in San Francisco needing only one race to win. Rather than letting this become a ‘hoodoo’ they used this as a motivator but never let it weigh them down.
4) Come back from adversity stronger and wiser. When their boat totalled itself during the Louis Vutton Challenger Series they picked themselves up from near disaster and re-grouped. The repairs and new equipment made the boat faster.
5) Old heads are not always needed. The hero of the NZ team, Peter Burling, aged 26, was in his first America’s Cup. In fact only one of the crew had been there before. When you are good enough, you are old enough. Sometimes we need to rely on talent that is not encumbered by reasons why things can’t be done.
6) Don’t listen to the knockers. Commentators were saying that Emirates Team NZ would struggle because Burling couldn’t win a start. Burling won 7 starts out of 9 against the world’s greatest starter Jimmy Spithill.
7) Know what you are doing. Every team member knew their job so there was no ‘chatter’ on board. Clearly defined roles allowed team members to concentrate on their part in the overall whole.
8) Use technology to your advantage. The Kiwis used technology including ‘playstation’ controls and wearables to monitor key information to give them the edge.
9) Continuously improve. Despite winning race after race Emirates Team NZ went back to the sheds each day to see how they could improve for the following day. Even if it was just a few seconds they learnt incrementally.
10) Celebrate with humility. Despite it being a long-held ambition to re-capture the Cup, when they won the Kiwis kept the celebration in perspective. In this game, as in business, you are only as good as the last goal you kicked. Longevity is the absolute yardstick of success.
With the America’s Cup, the world’s oldest sporting competition, now in the Southern Hemisphere, it is an opportunity for countries such as Australia and New Zealand to demonstrate to the world that we can be world-beaters. Innovation, focus and continuous improvement are the key ingredients to success.