SNEDDEN'S STRATEGIC SIGNIFICANCE
At some stage, we all have that one person that comes into our professional lives. They ooze confidence, their experience is incredible, they have the ability to inspire you, get you to believe in yourself, yet humble in their values. I was fortunate enough to have that in my first job post university, and he was well known throughout the New Zealand community. His name was Martin Snedden.
Between 2001 and 2007, as CEO Martin headed New Zealand Cricket (NZC) during a tumultuous period punctuated by issues relating to terrorism, politics and player contract negotiations, a period where the BLACKCAPS ranked high in both tests and one day internationals. He led the successful joint NZC / Cricket Australia bid for the rights to host Cricket World Cup 2015.
I was 21 years of age and had landed a big job at one of New Zealand’s premier sporting bodies. I was still in the process of completing my degree at the University of Canterbury and right from the start Martin was incredibly supportive.
I’d obviously heard a lot about him, and wiped my sweaty palms on my suit pants as I nervously knocked on his open office door.
“You must be Chris”, he said.
“Yes Sir”, I replied.
“Martin”, he said as he shook my hand and patted me on the shoulder. “I’m looking forward to working with you, and don’t knock on the door again, it’s an open door policy mate”.
Straight away he put the young man at ease, making me feel valued in the organisation. I’d come in at an opportune time, as Martin was preparing a series of workshops aimed at developing a strategic plan for 2007-11, later to be known as “Pushing Beyond Boundaries”.
Part of my role at the company was assisting clubs, districts and the six major cricket associations in formulating strategies to promote and grow the game of cricket. But the insight I got through working with Martin on an overall strategy for the growth of the game nationally cannot be described.
Martin’s philosophy was very much ‘employee centred’, where everyone’s opinion on the path that the organisation should take is critical. He ran a series of workshops which included not only senior management and NZ Cricket board members, but all employees based in Christchurch, the six CEO’s of the Major Associations and some senior members of the BLACKCAPS and White Ferns.
Over the following months we all gave feedback on the vision, purpose, goals and priorities that the organisation should undertake. The priorities, or pillars as I like to call them included:
1) Culture of excellence
2) High performing teams
3) Family of cricket
4) Sustainable growth of the game
5) Business of cricket
Martin’s approach to developing the strategic plan was very shrewd. He realised that people made the organisation what it was and would make it even better over the upcoming five year period. But in order to achieve this he required a team that were united, felt valued and empowered to make changes and would want to be part of something special over a long period of time.
Before working with Martin, existing strategic documents that I saw included lofty financial goals that an organisation wanted to achieve, hockey stick graphs, a wish list without any clarification of what that brand would specifically do to achieve the desired growth.
There were no unrealistic goals created, such as doubling player base, or tripling our revenue and profitability. Everything was carefully calculated and took into account the competition that our organisation would be facing.
With every department playing a part, we understood as a collective exactly what we wanted to achieve and how we individually fit into the plan. No one had to interpret anything as a result of being part of the planning process. We were able to get on with formulating annual delivery plans to achieve our organisational strategy from day 1 in 2007.
We were all intrinsically motivated, excited, willing to go the extra mile, making personal sacrifices to achieve the outcomes. Inspiring team members is not a simple exercise. Leaders need to be authentic, physically present and accessible, all of which Martin was. He set such a good culture that it made it a simple task for his successor, Doctor Justin Vaughan, to come in and take over.
Technology was rapidly improving throughout this period in the mid 2000s, but Martin never hid behind it. He believed in two-way interaction with his team.
Along with his leadership and ability to develop a culture of excellence, Martin gave us the tools we needed to achieve against the strategic document, facted in resources annually against the strategic plan to ensure we would succeed and linked these to the KPIs within our operations.
It’s a vitally important cycle that any leader must follow. As far as I’m concerned, I learnt from the best. A man who between 2007 and 2011, was CEO of Rugby New Zealand 2011 Ltd, the company responsible for staging the extremely successful Rugby World Cup 2011.
Throughout 2014, as a director of the International Cricket Council (ICC), Martin was closely involved in the ICC’s reorganisation of the governance of international cricket and the re-shaping of cricket's Future Tours programme. This role also saw Martin leading the winning New Zealand/Australian bid for the 2015 ICC World Cup.
As CEO of the Tourism Industry Association, he led our tourism industry through the creation of 'Tourism 2025', a framework to provide New Zealand's number two-ranked export earning industry with a confident sense of strategic direction through the next decade.
Martin is the former CEO of Duco Promotions Limited. Duco's strong event portfolio includes the NRL Auckland Nines, the Fight for Life, Brisbane 10s as well as management of New Zealand's rising boxing star Joseph Parker.
He is currently a director of both New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and also of Auckland World Masters Games 2017 (the entity charged with delivering an event of significant sporting and economic importance for Auckland).
Through Martin, I learnt that business strategy needs to be closely aligned to people strategy. They must never be seen as mutually exclusive concepts. A business strategy that does not explicitly call out the skills and capabilities required to be developed over time and executed on the strategy, is a poor strategy and will increase the likelihood of failure.
My connection with one of New Zealand’s leading businessman, who everyday had to work with limited resources to achieve success led to the creation of Strategic Management NZ.
Our organisation are big believers of empowering your team and that small business can have the efficiency and success of big business, within a small business budget. We have been able to illustrate this on many occasions and your business could be next.
We can help you grow and look into the future for what could be achieved and assist you in developing your own journey of success. A strategic plan is not a daunting or time consuming document either. Our one-on-one workshops make the process very simple.
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