Vision2020 Emerging Themes Top-Line

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1 Vision2020 Emerging Themes Top-Line 1. Irish Rugby-Values & Vision Now Irish Rugby is the term used to describe rugby in Ireland from mini rugby to the professional team. It encompasses all stakeholders in rugby including the IRFU. The term Irish Rugby is also used by the IRFU on its website but it is broader than the IRFU and is not the domain of the IRFU. People inherently know the ethos of rugby and can articulate the values of rugby, however there is no overall consensus on what the values are and they are varied. The values are implicit rather than explicit and this allows stakeholders to interpret or create their own definitions depending on their role or focus. The lack of clarity on values and what these mean on a day-to-day basis means that the pillars that underpin the Irish Rugby mission and vision (purpose) are not as solid as they could be or will need to be in the future. It is recognised by many that without its values Irish Rugby has nothing to fall back on. The absence of explicit values has not detracted from Irish Rugby s international success; however it is very evident that if Irish Rugby is to achieve the full level of its potential the values will need to be more explicit in the future. Without this Irish Rugby will at best perform at its current good level but with all the tensions that currently exist in the sport detracting from achieving its full potential. At worst it will perform at a weaker level. An even worse scenario is that Irish Rugby will fail to perform at the level of its potential (and to the level the Irish Public give it permission to) that is to be great an Irish world leader. 1

2 It is imperative therefore that Irish Rugby clearly defines what its values are and the only way to do this is for the rugby family to engage with its constituents to discover them. It must then communicate and live the values in all its endeavors. The existing Irish Rugby vision Irish Rugby excelling in Irish Sport and in World Rugby has served its purpose and in the main has been achieved. The vision has excelled at a professional level more so than at an amateur level. Criticisms where they exist are more to do with the fact the revised Strategic Plan & Vision was not implemented in a focused inclusive way for all levels of the sport. This ultimately means the vision and strategy are not lived and do not guide the sport in Ireland. Moving forward it is essential that the IRFU & Irish Rugby puts its vision for the sport behind all of the stakeholders that make up Irish Rugby rather than asking stakeholders to get behind a vision created by the IRFU. Creating a vision is not a one off project or process that gets repeated every decade. Visioning is a way for Irish Rugby to continuously engage with its stakeholders, keep its fingers on the pulse of what is happening from the grass roots, build a strong rugby family that creates the future it desires. 2

3 2. Irish Rugby Challenges There are many challenges in Irish Rugby, some being addressed more than others and the emphasis is likely to be different in each province. The challenges, which we will outline in greater detail, can be summarized under the following headings Finance & Sponsorship Clubs, Schools, Youth Provincial and National Brands Professionalism v s Amateurism The Game & its derivatives (15 s, 7 s, Tag, Touch, Mini etc.,) Inclusion Volunteers Infrastructure and facilities Supporters It is evident that each province is working on some if not all of these issues which means at any given time there are at least 4 groups working on every issue to a lesser or greater extent in addition to the IRFU itself. Resources and expertise are not being maximized at the level they need to be to address the tensions and challenges that exist in Irish Rugby. Worse, problems and tensions are being abdicated to others to resolve. Irish Rugby needs to recognize that a problem for one Province or for the IRFU is a problem for the whole sport and needs to be resolved collectively. No one Province or indeed the IRFU will find the solution and each Province and its stakeholders are part of the overall solution. Moving forward it is clear that existing and future challenges & tensions need to be openly acknowledged, defined, owned and resolved collectively by the rugby family. 3. IRFU The IRFU has achieved much for Irish Rugby. The organization has smoothed the transition from amateurism to professionalism. It has built Aviva Stadium. It has put its shared resources (e.g. HR & Marketing) behind the professional game and has reaped the rewards. Whilst many of the changes that occurred in Irish Rugby were unplanned, the IRFU has in the main managed the changes well. The IRFU is a highly evolved self-organising system traversing paid professional staff, unpaid volunteers and players. It has a wealth of expertise, knowledge and passion at its disposal. It is steeped in tradition. The IRFU model is neither a standard corporate nor NGO model and neither should it aim to exclusively emulate these models. Given its complexity it is inevitable there are tensions as 3

4 people find ways to navigate and work in such a system. It is also inevitable that as the organisation and sport grows tensions will exist about who has power and authority. The world, society and organisational life have evolved enormously in the last decade with increasing transparency and communications at people s disposal. The IRFU needs to evolve in this new world and move to one of facilitator if it is to help birth a new vision for Irish Rugby. The IRFU can learn from highly successful sporting organisations and businesses heavily involved with complex stakeholders who have reaped the benefits of transparency, honesty, consistency in message, continuity of succession, participative leadership, and clarity of purpose and vision. 4. The Journey from Good to Great There is a massive opportunity for Irish Rugby to move from good to great and the way to do this is to ensure there is participative leadership at every level of the sport. There is a need to ensure that activity shifts from stewardship to creating impact and that leadership in gatekeeper positions moves to one of building capacity in the sport. It requires people to act at a transformational level of leadership. This will require the IRFU and its stakeholders to address its behaviours and capabilities as an entity. It will require a strong vision and values to do this, clarity of purpose that unites all. In building the future vision for Irish Rugby it is vital that the following areas are addressed:- Identity moving from separated to oneness Information moving from silo to system Relationships moving from power over to power to 4.1 Identity Irish rugby is made up of lots of stakeholders each striving to ensure it future existence and success. There is a need to connect each of the individual components so that they work collectively for the greater good of Irish Rugby to move from separateness to oneness to be unified. This will require: Greater clarity of purpose Understanding & communication of how each stakeholder in Irish rugby contributes to the whole Reduce the separation that exists between amateur and elite rugby. Voicing tensions and working on them collectively e.g. the Club issue Creating a new model for Club rugby that is not based on the professional model but links strongly to community Creating a competitive Irish Rugby identity that competes with other sports & organizations and delivers impact and visibility 4

5 Harnessing the symbols, logos, colours, anthems, heroes, ceremonies and traditions that differentiate Irish Rugby from other sports and other countries, authentically Ensuring Irish rugby is accessible and diverse and representative of, all including women Developing rugby derivatives that attract most supporters in a small population Respecting the contribution of fans/supporters they have purchasing power Harnessing the power of a global sport that operates at a 32 county level in Ireland Harnessing the real power and commercial potential of the Diaspora 4.2 Information The rugby family has a wealth of information at its disposal. It needs to shift from information being available at an individual/role/committee level to information being available to the whole of the system. Currently information is used as power and this detracts from the work and greater vision to be achieved. It also means people are busy with activity rather than creating the impact that is required. There is a need to: Gather information that can be shared holistically in an efficient way Be honest, tell the truth about the scale of issues and what the likely implications are and share this knowledge e.g. Club debt, merging of Clubs, new forms of successful clubs Ensure decision makers remain in touch with reality Enhance data bases in order to maximize future communications (internally and externally) e-communication is it! Create forums where people can share knowledge that enhances the collective knowledge to make informed decisions e.g. NFL think tank, Olympics Congress, GAA Congress Ensure the information available at an international level informs the Irish rugby family and vice versa Transparency and knowledge sharing is critical if the IRFU is to create an adaptive, flexible organization that can respond to the future changes in sport, society and the world Allocate responsibility and hold people accountable against decisions taken. 4.3 Relationships Irish Rugby needs to strengthen its relationships at all levels of the sport from clubs and schools to the professional teams, from committee members, to paid employees that service the sport. Ultimately each stakeholder needs to define how it can add value in partnership with the other. The rugby family and the Irish population base are small and resources are limited, Irish Rugby needs to maximize the resources available by maximizing relationships and energy. Irish Rugby needs to work collectively for the greater good, to welcome diversity in opinion and find new ways of working together. In doing this innovation will flourish and solutions will be found to deeply embedded problems. 5

6 There must be continuous engagement and dialogue for relationships to develop and new forums need to be created to facilitate this The language and mindset from stakeholders must move from victim, villain and hero to collective heroism The IRFU needs to act as a hub that facilitates dialogue and engagement; it must act from a transformational leadership space, building capacity for the whole. The IRFU needs to consider to what extent its behaviours and capabilities empower stakeholders to achieve their full potential - if it facilitates growth through empowerment or restricts growth by having power over. Weaker voices must be heard and given a platform e.g. women, clubs, youth etc. The IRFU needs to continue to strengthen its performance influencing rugby policy at an international level e.g. IRB Irish Rugby needs to continue to tap into its past international Heroes that contributed significantly in the sport to bridge the gap from the past to the future. Irish rugby needs to extend its relationships in community, tapping into community resources where there are deficiencies in club and schools e.g. sharing community resources 5. Creating a Future Vision for Irish Rugby Irish rugby has unique qualities that can contribute to the development of Irish people, community society and the world at a different level to GAA and Soccer. The Irish public and rugby family recognise and indeed give its support and permission for Irish Rugby to achieve its full potential. To do this Irish Rugby needs to create a new vision for the future, underpinned by values that are embodied in its behaviours and capabilities and are lived throughout the rugby family. In shaping the future vision for Irish Rugby a number of factors will need consideration: Does Irish Rugby agree with the IRB vision and values and priorities for the development of rugby to 2020 Rugby, a sport for all? Does Irish Rugby want to compete with GAA and Soccer or does it want to position itself as a leader that can show other sports how to behave and lead? Does Irish Rugby want to build its vision on the success of the national or provincial teams i.e. an outcome or does it want to build its vision on something that is sustainable, with greater reach and impact in the longer term? How can Irish Rugby build on the success of its provincial and national teams and link this to community? Does Irish Rugby want to pick up on the opportunity that the Irish Public is prepared to give it for leadership and national reputation rebuilding and reimagining? 6

7 In creating a new vision for Irish Rugby some stakeholders will have to give up roles and responsibilities, power and status and others will have to take on roles and responsibilities. This was clearly identified in the BCG report for New Zealand 15 years ago. In taking on or giving up roles it is critical that the IRFU builds the capacity and capabilities of itself and its stakeholders so that the whole sport grows. There is an opportunity for Irish Rugby to become a movement in Ireland and beyond. It can learn much from other movements including the Olympic Games. If Irish Rugby wants to operate in this space it must be clear about its cause and align itself and its resources around this cause. Currently the cause can be any number of things depending upon whether the IRFU and Irish Rugby stakeholders are up to the challenge. It can only begin from where it is at currently and that means strengthening some of the weaker elements within its family and committing fully to the future vision. Every cause has tensions but good or successful causes work at where the tensions exist and resolve them. Ultimately a successful cause has strong values that are embodied and lived and underpin its vision. 6. Visioning Project Through our research we have identified that if the IRFU is to engage the Irish Rugby in a visioning project that is ultimately a way for Irish Rugby to discover its future it must: Have project champions that come from the professional and volunteer sides of the family; otherwise this project will be seen as a committee initiative that will not gain momentum and deliver its full potential Appoint a strong steering committee that works with momentum Identify those people who could block the progress and bring them on board Develop an engagement process that is open, iterative and evolving Create a process that facilitates the change that is desired Share information with Irish Rugby stakeholders that will encourage them to become aware of the full scale of the realities that exist and the full scale of the potential that can exist if it is prepared to go there. Jim Dunne, Brand Consultant Lorraine O Rahilly, Research & Engagement 7

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