A team of collegues stand together arm in arm smiling. teamwork, success, motivation, team spirit.

How the All Blacks are Helping Hack Our Way to Success

Eight-week processes can be tackled in eight hours if you have the mentality of the All Blacks.

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Here to Create

Being a proud New Zealander, I’ve had a life-long obsession with the All Blacks. One of the most formidable teams in world sport, they’re a team of individual superstars, yet still greater than the sum of their parts.

In James Kerr’s 2015 book Legacy, he identifies fifteen principles that define this success. Not only do these strongly influence my approach to management, they inspired me to start the adidas hackathon – an event that involves getting a diverse team of people together to solve key business problems.

When I first introduced the concept, I wanted to show that lengthy processes could be dramatically reduced if you had the right people, at the right time, with the right attitude. The results were dramatic, and now it’s a weekly part of our calendar. Here’s the breakdown on how it works:

Three employees come together for a briefing. meeting, team, brief, colleagues.
I like to brief my team so they know the playbook, know their roles and are equipped to make the right moves.

Big game mentality

The hackathon takes place every Friday but we build up to it during the week. Like any big match, preparation is key. So I make sure the team has been briefed beforehand. We let them know what their role is going to be and give a bit of background about the problem. We don’t want to overload anyone with information, as we want them to do most of the thinking in the room.

Coming together eliminates the fear of taking risks making my team truly unstoppable.

Go for the gap

When the All Blacks see an opportunity they’re conditioned to take it with both hands. This is something I try to instil within the team during the hackathons. I tell my team to treat a hackathon day differently to any other, to not be worried about trying to align with everyone in the business. If you come across a solution on that day and it works, just go for it.

For me, you’ve got to put trust in your team so they are not afraid to take risks. At the hackathon, anyone can come up with an idea, and it can be live by the end of the day. This breeds confidence throughout the team, because they have the freedom to create something that adds real value to the business.

Play with intensity

Out on a rugby pitch the action comes thick and fast. The digital landscape is no different. We have to be proactive and operate efficiently to stay ahead.

Before we started the hackathon, it was apparent how much time was being wasted on meetings and bureaucracy.

We figured that if we had the right people in the room, including everyone from creative to coding, we could create something amazing in a really short space of time. If everyone is willing to work together, and trusts each other to deliver, the potential for streamlining is huge.

A group of colleagues walk together in a straight line. team, formation, line, discipline, togetherness.
With the right people behind you anything is possible.

Never stand still

No matter the result, the All Blacks play with humility. They assess what they’ve done well, and they think about how they can improve things going forward. The beauty of the hackathon is it’s improving all the time. We get smarter and faster with each one. And when those risks I spoke about before don’t come off, we know how not to do it next time.

Join the adidas European Hackathon Series

4 hackathons in 4 locations, with the best teams winning a fully-paid trip to adidas HQ for the Finals. Register here and get ready to shape the future with us.



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