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  • Stick to the plan or adjust?

    11/11/2014 | Cape Town

    In this 'Schouten Blog' Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel (director coaching Schouten Global and coach of Team Brunel) writes, among other things, about her experiences in the talent-selection process, the training sessions on Lanzarote, her presence in the ports of the stop-overs of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015.

    VOR_141105_shoemaker_0007.jpgImpressive silence
    The guys on the RIB that sails out to meet Team Brunel that is floating somewhere near Cape Town ask me to come and escort the team on their final miles. Yes! I’m looking forward to see how they’re doing on board! Night is falling, dolphins and seals join us. Far away a tiny light, a sail. My heart jumps: there they are! It’s dead quiet. The engines are off, there is no wind and everyone silently stands on deck. Stefan spots me and says ‘Hé’, immediately followed by ‘Ssst’ from Bouwe. All those silent men, totally focused, in the sunset – so impressive. Then suddenly wind gusts and they dash away fast. We are in the stern wave and get soaking wet. Media guys loose 2 camera’s and an Iphone. After the finish line, we hand over the also dripping box with warm wraps and soft drinks, meant to be there first real food. Pablo explains why nobody said anything. ‘Windless weather like this is the most challenging way of sailing. You have to stay totally focused.’ 

    VOR_141105_shoemaker_0011.jpgAs one
    The welcome is overwhelming. Hundreds of people applauding, the guys hugging their family, press interviews and spouting champagne during the prizegiving. Then to the Volvo stand to weigh, collect blood for testing,  and eat some real meat. Space enough, but what do they do? They all sit together at the same table, as a group. ‘We have never seen them come from board like this’, their wives tell me, ‘so cheerful and as one team.’ Bouwe is satisfied. ‘The atmosphere has been excellent, and of course we would have likes to win, but the  result is satisfactory. Everybody agrees. We sailed conservative which worked well. A good way to start the race.’

    Bad idea
    After a good night’s sleep it’s time for massages and medical check-ups. Especially the new guys lost a lot of weight. ‘It’s the stress of not knowing exactly what to expect,’ Gerd-Jan explains, ‘this will decrease with every leg.’

    _MG_5894.jpgThe original plan was that I would have a quick talk with every crew member about how they were doing and elaborate on that later on. Bad idea! They loved to share their whole story with me now. So I changed the plan and took the time that was needed. I asked if the way others see Team Brunel – joyful, good atmosphere, solidary, focused, ambitious  – matched with reality. The response: big staring eyes. ‘Yes, off course that’s true.’ How great is that? These qualities perfectly match the collective team values we identified in the team coaching sessions months ago.

    And of course after all the stories some  issues came up. But they were immediately smoothed over by ‘but we are really good, it isn’t a big issue,  we don’t really have to address that. But yes, we do! Where ever there’s  room for improvement we have to address it. Really go out there and try your best is crucial. Only then the team will reach its best results. So we have to keep talking about collaboration and communication, and connecting those impressions  to Capey’s numbers to  constantly find ways for improving team performance.

    Open to change
    Concerning improving tactics it comes down to two things. In Lanzarote they trained a lot, but you cannot be prepared for every decision. The other thing has to do with letting go. If you see Abu Dhabi take on speed while you’re not despite of the fact you follow the well thought-out strategies in the playbook, what do you do? Are you open to change and willing to search for alternatives to sail faster or do you hold on to what you know and thought was best. Everybody is curious how they did that, but it’s not as easy as it seems. A great metaphor for dealing with change in business. Do you stick to the plan, or adjust if necessary? We will definitely discuss that at our seminar Leadership: The Human Factor too. 

    Team Brunel is open to change.
    In case your team shows some resistance, 3 tips for dealing with that:

    -              Identify and recognise resistance. Be open about it. Those feelings are allowed.
                   Avoiding them works counterproductive and costs loads of energy.

    -              Look for the concerns and desire (the positive intentions) beneath the resistance.

    -              Discuss and work together on alternative solutions that serve everybody’s interests.


    Nothing from this blog may be reproduced without written permission from Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel of Schouten Global.

    Update Team Brunel, November 11, 2014 
    by Anje-Marijcke van Boxtel, Director Coaching - Schouten Global
    Coach - Team Brunel in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15

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