I love cycling and have for many years and for many reasons. Its extreme demands, its rich unwritten rules, its cruelty and its sense of honour and fair play, its history and its characters. But as a follower it’s noticeable how the sport has moved from a solitary sport to very much more a team sport. The advent and ubiquity of team radio has accompanied the rise of coordinated team led approaches to winning major Classic stage races like Le Tour, Giro and Vuelta. Long gone, it seems, are the solitary predators like Eddie “The Cannibal” Merckx.
So as we celebrate Bradley Wiggins success we also celebrate a team success and the mastermind behind Team Sky is Dave Brailsford and what can we learn from that for our teams?
Known for his attention to detail and the “aggregation of tiny margins” Brailsford has managed to craft a team of powerful individuals each with deep reserves of self will, stubbornness and, in some cases, ego into a unit that works and in this case was unbeatable. Of course we must never over simplify or seek to commoditise how this is done. No doubt there will be some interesting revelations about rifts and conflicts that have been kept undercover for the duration of the race.
But for all that I find the team rules set out and agreed by Team Sky to be an interesting statement of togetherness and intent, and the process of agreeing a set of boundaries and understanding of high performing teams and crews can be a lesson for us.
The rules, written on the side of the bus - or Death Star as is often referred to - are:
- We will respect one another and watch each others backs.
- We will be honest with one another.
- We will be on time.
- We will communicate openly and regularly .
- If we want our helmets cleaned, we will leave them on the bus.
- We will pool all prize money from races and distribute it at the end of the year.
- Any team bonuses from the team will be split between riders on that race.
- We will give 15% of all race bonuses and prize money to staff.
- We will speak English if we are in a group.
- We will debrief after every race.
- We will always wear team kit and apparel as instructed in the team dress code.
- We will not use our phones at dinner - if absolutely required, we will leave the table to have the conversation.
- We will respect the bus.
- We will respect personnel and management.
- We will ask for any changes to be made to bikes (gearing, wheel selection etc.) the night before the race and not on race day.
- We will follow the rules.
A fascinating mix of the cycling specific and the team, respect bonding and trust oriented.
What would be the rules you would sign up to?