Teamwork – Getting the process right

Recently we looked at the importance of people in a strategy for business success and for success as a team. Another crucial aspect to consider within the context of teamwork is process. This time we’re going back to the context of rugby in England to look at winning processes and the role of automation.

Gloucester Rugby’s training ground is a great place to see the daily processes the club have put in place to optimize performance on matchday. From ensuring the players have access to the right nutrition based on their workloads, to having the kit ready for every training session, every single member of the behind-the-scenes team at Gloucester Rugby plays a crucial role in creating processes that players can trust.

Creating winning processes

Professional rugby union is a results business but the result, in the end, is one of the most difficult things for any team to control.

Every squad and their management want to find the processes that will work towards consistent improvements on the field since the bounce of the ball, an officiating error, or simply the efforts of the opposition are among the many factors that can send a game the other way.

In pro rugby today, the science of preparation goes far beyond playing tactics to include every aspect of physical and mental readiness. At elite level, clubs strive to optimize every activity to help the team perform on match day, and generate success that radiates through the organization.

When Stephen Vaughan took over as CEO of Gloucester Rugby at the end of 2012, he found that there was no way the staff set-up at the club could meet its objectives.

In order to reach their potential, Gloucester Rugby would need the right people in place to apply their expertise to key details.

Players need to be at their best not just for big fixtures but for every training session.

The work of Performance Chef Will Carvalho at Gloucester Rugby is a good example of how the smallest details are being considered.

Will and his team plan the players’ meals around the energy levels required throughout the week, comparing the challenge to that of running a Formula One car.

“Building up to games”, says Will, “we will increase the fuel options on our menus, from rice dishes and potatoes to slow-release carbs, there is a huge variety that we can add to the menus. Also, and this is key for the process, we never repeat dishes in order to keep the players happy and refreshed”.

The effects of automation

Just as in other sectors of business, automation is set to have a profound effect on the management of workflows in professional sport. Robotic process automation, or RPA, is increasingly able to replicate the work of human actors by performing simple tasks in a chain. A step beyond that is intelligent process automation, which learns from feedback to build greater efficiency into each action.

Automation has moved from manufacturing into areas like communication in recent years and the possibilities of artificial intelligence are extending all the time. Legal services have begun exploring the use of smart systems for tasks such as contract matching, something that could dramatically change the work of lawyers on large-scale corporate operations – like, for example, the sale of sports broadcast rights in multiple territories.

At Loughborough University’s Institute for Sport, staff build robots to provide strictly repeatable tests for new products – kicking the latest generation of rugby balls, for example – as well as ‘surrogate body parts’ that simulate the effect of physical impact on players.

Ultimately, though, it is still people who make a process work, and the world’s most advanced creative companies tailor their processes around maximizing talent.

Apple knows that its unique selling point is the usability and desirability of its products, so it puts its designers at the heart of its development, with manufacturing and finance departments supporting that vision. Animation studio Pixar puts dedicated teams to work on each release for years at a time but creates frequent opportunities for wider company stress-testing and problem-solving.

Video games giant Nintendo asks its graduate candidates to think about how they approached their studies rather than what they achieved. Each of its games and consoles is seeded from a provocative challenge, rather than an impression of the finished article.

Technology is playing a growing role in elite sport but it is the thoughtful application of innovation that will deliver enhanced performance.

Looking for paradigms in everyday activities like sports helps us at NotifyMe to understand what various business processes really mean. Since teamwork really is crucial we’re always trying to find ways to develop and understand it. We hope this gives you some insights into how your processes work!

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