Microsoft’s Breakfast with the Lions event explored the balance between the team and the individual from the perspective of maximising team performance on and off the rugby pitch.

Microsoft and the Lions

When we gathered at the Skyloft of London’s Millbank Tower, everyone was excited to watch the rumble with the Brumbies and hear from rugby legend, Josh Lewsey, but it was surprising to learn just how much technology does for the Lions team.

As the official technology sponsors of the British and Irish Lions, Microsoft enabled the squad to share performance and health data, keep in touch with family and encourage team cohesiveness. This was achieved through a combination of devices and services, such as the new Surface Pro, Windows Azure, Xboxes and more. 

Together they connected a diverse squad of athletes and experts, and gave each the information and freedom they needed to concentrate on what they do best, while also bringing them together as a team.

Connected individuals

To get the best from a team, collaboration needs to happen anywhere at any time. It can’t be limited to the office, especially, in a situation like the British and Irish Lions’ tour of Australia.

Cloud technology and dedicated apps, like the health app used by the Lions, are a great way of enabling this kind of always-connected collaboration. At the same time, however, each member of the team needs to be able to use that shared information in their own way, in order to maximise their own individual productivity.

Nearly two-thirds of enterprise clients say, however, that their teams are currently unconnected, according to Microsoft’s Mark Bedford. This is a far cry from the optimised operations of the Lions team, which exemplifies the ethos of business reimagined.
 
Team management reimagined

Josh Lewsey echoed the difficulty of finding the right balance between control and autonomy when he spoke about Warren Gatland’s need to actively manage his team and at the same time give each player a stake in the game by allowing them some freedom on and off the pitch.

‘There is a risk of over-coaching,’ said Josh, ‘you need leaders on the field to make decisions otherwise they lose ownership of the game they are playing.’

This is the same core challenge that CIOs are facing as they try to protect company data and deploy standardised working practices whilst at the same time provide the kind of autonomy and flexibility employees want and need to perform at their best.

The vision is clear but the reality often falls short. For example, of the 30-strong audience, only four or five worked in companies that had their own ‘bring your own device’ policy in place.

Microsoft helps you meet the challenge

Choosing the right hardware is the first step to the new way of working envisaged in Microsoft’s Business Reimagined project.

Microsoft’s own Surface Pro is a good start. It ‘allows the personal to come into the professional,’ according to Steve Newby, a Microsoft specialist. It lets you give employees a lightweight tablet device without compromising security, compatibility or manageability.

Devices and servicesThe Surface Pro is certainly an exciting development in Microsoft’s ambition to support the new era of business, but it is just one element in a much story about devices and services. That’s because the real key to getting the best out of a team is recognising their individuality and tailoring their technology to match the way they work best, not the other way around.

In the new era, the ‘I’ in CIO could stand for innovation as well as information and their job is to give people the tools and data they need to do their job the best way they can. As Lewsey said of the Lions, ‘You have to be careful not to create an autocratic system. It’s not all about the captain anymore.’

More information

Business Reimagined