Sweeping the sheds

A few years ago, my spouse was living in Paris. And, of course, we wanted to make the most out of staying in such a beautiful city. As we both have a passion for sports, we decided to learn more about rugby as this is big in France.

In England, where the sport originated, there is an old saying: “Football is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans, and rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen.”

To learn more, we decided to follow the Rugby World Cup. Besides the intensity of the game and the total commitment and passion from everyone involved, what stood out to us was the strong team spirit and how the teams came across as united and harmonized collectives. This has very little to do with individual strengths or someone’s “unique qualities”. It became clear that in rugby, no-one is above the team. It is all about cohesiveness and collaboration, about standing shoulder to shoulder, reaching out, helping, supporting and carrying the burden together.

What is equally clear is that the collective effort is there for a clear purpose: to win!

In “Legacy” by James Kerr, the author describes some of the key leadership principles of the All Blacks, New Zealand’s wildly successful national rugby team.

One of them is not being too big for the small things:

Sweeping the sheds.
Doing it properly.
So no-one else has to.
Because no-one looks after the All Blacks.
The All Blacks look after themselves.

The All Blacks is perhaps the most successful sports team ever. Over a period of one hundred years, they have achieved a win-rate in excess of 75 percent. Systematic and conscious decisions and priorities are behind the success. They have, for instance, worked hard to establish a culture based on both individual character and personal leadership. Their philosophy is: “Better People Make Better All Blacks.”

One of the ways this manifests itself is in their practice of “sweeping the shed”. The shed is a figurative name for the locker room. Before leaving at the end of the game, the highest profiles in world rugby tidy up after themselves. They literally “sweep the shed.” This is described as an example of personal humility, one of the most important All Blacks values.

Is the management team walking the walk or just talking the talk? Are we sweeping the sheds?

Let me share a few thoughts as this applies to Kredinor. After taking the helm in Kredinor some 100 days ago, I have been working with these six areas to cover as much ground as possible. Having previous industry experience obviously makes it easier to hit the ground running, but I have tried hard not to fall into the trap of just walking the familiar paths of the past. When identifying the Coca-Cola recipe in any organization, having an open mind and being curious is both a necessity and a virtue.

I strongly believe that it isn’t sufficient to do things right or even to do the right things. We also need to do good. Our industry has been conservative, and innovation has been slow. For instance, we focus more on solving a case than the problem. Hence, building our strategy around not adding to our customers’ burden is Kredinor’s new purpose and foundation. Having listened to many customer conversations lately, it is clear to me that this is what our customers want – and responding to that need is a clear call to action.

To deliver on our new strategy, we need a culture that is a good fit for the new direction. Hence, we have asked our colleagues to describe what characterizes who we are, but also to formulate what we need to be. So now we know both where we stand and where we need to go. I believe leaders are cultural architects, and now we have the drawings.

A lot has happened at Kredinor since the 1st of March. Some people would even say that more has happened in less than 100 days than in the previous 100 years. We are no longer a cooperative but a limited company. The ownership is transitioned from members of the cooperative to a foundation. The owners have agreed on an important merger between Modhi and Kredinor, creating the market leader in Norway with important market positions in Sweden and Finland. The new Executive Team Members are appointed, and new experienced professionals have joined.

But most importantly, this is about changing how we view people and our mentality when engaging with them. A 100 days ago, we dealt with debtors. Today, we have customers. That makes a difference.

It's about people and how we meet them - in the last 100 days, debtors have become customers in Kredinor.

We have redefined our purpose, and we have a strategy for the future. We will do the right things, and we will do good at the same time.

More is underway. Stay tuned.


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