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Obligatory Six Nations tie-in blog

You probably know I am a little obsessed with the link between sport and business, mainly because I find it irrefutable that what works well in sport, especially in the context of building winning teams, generally works well in business (and vice versa). 

Despite the headline, this blog isn’t about rugby (OK, maybe a little bit). It’s actually about Codes Of Conduct in sport. You may have heard that Championship Football team Queens Park Rangers have recently launched a 27 page Code Of Conduct Manual given to all players on arrival. Extracts of this marvellous manual were leaked to the Evening Standard last week and I thoroughly enjoyed reading some of the highlights, including:

  • Don’t be late for training
  • No drinking when injured
  • No baseball caps (my personal favourite)
  • No polo, winter sports or hang gliding


There is nothing new in laying down the law and expectations from your team. Vince Lombardi, legendary American football coach, was the original master at demanding excellence from his players. Perhaps his most famous legacy was the concept of “Lombardi Time”. Lombardi noticed that key people were drifting into meetings and training a disruptive few minutes late.

(I need to pause here and say this is a personal pet-hate for me – a modern phenomenon if you like - people turning up to team meetings late looking slightly flustered with an expression of “oooh sorry I’m late I’m so busy, I’m really important, that’s why you all had to wait for me”.

Lombardi cured this by introducing a new rule: everyone had to arrive fifteen minutes early for meetings and training. This became “Lombardi Time” and it was a critical factor in instilling discipline in the camp.

This concept of “Lombardi Time” was later adapted by Sir Clive Woodward’s England team in their successful campaign to win the Rugby World Cup in 2003. Interestingly, it wasn’t Woodward who introduced it, but the players themselves. Woodward set the topics, e.g. “punctuality” and players came up with their own rules e.g. “ten minutes early” - if there was ever an issue it was referred back to the Black Book. When Woodward left England, the black book was dropped resulting in a gradual decline of behaviour that culminated in players jumping off moving ferries, assaulting police officers and insulting the current Prime Minister. Actually, that was only one player, but you get the picture.

Last year the consultants in our business decided to create our own charter for excellence and (above all) consistency when dealing with our Interim Managers and our Clients. It was a natural evolution as we grew as a business. This charter became known as the “IP Way” and is our very own blueprint for success - our own Black Book, if you like - that sets the expectations of the team. Because we put it together ourselves, we are much more careful that we adhere to it and so far it has been a great success and a concept that I believe would help all growing teams striving to go from good to great.

Incidentally, I haven’t quite managed to sneak my favourite rule into it yet, but give it time (preferably Lombardi).

I would love to know your thoughts on codes of conduct - sporting or otherwise - specifically, what rules would you implement?


Scott Hutchinson is the Principal of UK Food & Drink at Interim Partners.

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