Winning by Sir Clive Woodward

Sensei Book review – Winning – by Sir Clive Woodward published by Hodder press

Following the fantastic success of the London Olympics 2012 and the extensive media and political interest in maintaining the momentum of the Games and building a sustainable legacy throughout the UK, I became passionate about learning how this might be best achieved and searched for further inspiration in sporting literature. I was looking for practical advice on how teams develop and implement winning strategies which can be learned from, and applied in business and in life.

Sir Clive Woodward became a National Hero on 22nd November 2003 when the all-conquering England team lifted the Rugby World Cup in Australia and he returned to England with a clear recognition of his visionary powers of leadership and motivation.

In Clive Woodward’s own words “Winning is the story of our journey to World No 1 ranking and Rugby World Cup success, setting new standards for rugby business.”

The book covers four decades of the author’s life to date and then from 1997 onwards tells the story of the transformation of an international team into world champions. The book is easy to read and full of anecdotes and experiences which shaped and developed Clive Woodward’s mind-set and values which became so vital in his later leadership of the English team. Critical to this was his obsession with winning, rather than the prevailing culture of “it’s how you play the game that counts.” He reflects that his life in sport seems to have been a fight against the prevailing culture of participation in favour of winning.

The author is clear that England won the World Cup because business principles were applied to the management of a professional sport. He developed and applied an elite 7 step business process which can be briefly summarised as:-

Set the Vision, inspire the team

Design the experience that supports your goal

Build an infrastructure of effective systems in the core parts of your business

Lay the foundation for a strong elite team culture

Apply a clear level of thinking to influence and develop the organisation’s mind-set

Plan and implement initiatives to help shape the organisation’s focus. Drop those that don’t work

Schedule and implement new ideas to develop the coaching strategy needed to win. Build in the all-important time for preparation.

Whether it is your objective just to read and enjoy the exciting story of Clive Woodward’s life to date and the World Cup Win, or whether you are seeking inspiration to help you develop your business of your career, I strongly recommend “Winning” as an inspirational book full of great learning’s of value to everyone in every walk of life.

Throughout the book as it charts Clive Woodward’s career leading up to the triumph of 2003, there are many fascinating insights on the qualities and competencies of outstanding leadership which provide much food for thought and inspire the reader to higher levels of personal ambition and achievement. Above all else it helps readers recognise that you cannot win without a strong and sustained will to win and I strongly recommend the book to every ambitious sportsman and entrepreneur.

Tim Vernon, chairman, sensei, November 2012