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The challenge of making it Real Brands need to evolve for various reasons; some are internal whilst others are externally dependent. After debating the need for change, organisations then have to struggle with implementing change. Such change sometimes has to be cascaded to all levels of staff. When the required change is extensive and fundamental, the worst thing that could happen is that the implementation is seen only at the surface with no substantial internalization and thus, impact. In such cases you find that things quickly revert to the way they were done before … or things may even take a turn for the worse. In which case, all the good intentions become “lost in translation”. Often the reason for unsuccessful change management is resistance. Generally, it stems from the fear of the unknown (which Change brings) or because people are comfortable with how things are at present. What then triggers a willingness to change? Most would agree that it is usually either the promise of something better or the fear of something worse relative to one’s present situation. But what constitutes ‘better’ and ‘worse’? I recently realised that though the principle remains the same, the exact situations or ‘catalysts’ for change exist very differently in all of us. Simply put, the “moment of truth” for each of us is as diverse as the personalities of the people on the planet. A Personal Encounter I volunteer as a coach for a local youth rugby development group called CORD (Community Outreach Rugby Development). We train players in various age groups (from 9 to 18) under a club called Ta’Moko Lions. Most of the boys in our club are from families with challenges Some of the problems these boys face may be of a disciplinary nature, academic and/or financial. It is through our common love for rugby as a sport that has brought all of us – sponsors, coaches and players, together. Rugby is the medium through which the other volunteer coaches and I hope to bring positive change into these boys’ lives. I have been working with some of the current batch of boys for close to three years now. Some of them have changed for the better. Some of them have more hope for the future than they previously did. But these steps are small and not usually hard won. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing but the incremental impact and improvement in their attitudes have been noticeable over the past three years.
However I was to be pleasantly surprised. Once the journey began however. the coaches thought that by just providing them with this opportunity to travel to the most rugby fanatic nation in the world and giving them a chance to experience the culture would be motivation enough for them to decide to change for the better or instill more hope for the future in them. Prior to the trip. sessions with coaches on how the trip was an opportunity for them seemed to fall on deaf ears for many of the boys as they seemed more interested in fooling around than taking the trip seriously. the boys were scheduled to play two matches against a local high school rugby team (called Waiheke Rugby Club) over the course of a few days. Alfian’s attitude has taken a turn for the better. Prior to and even during the initial part of the trip. there was about to be a significant step forward for many of them because of one major event. As the boys were to be billeted by families of their Kiwi counterparts. Initially. But this was easier said than done and proved to be a challenge in its own right. three other coaches and I brought 20 very lucky boys (the youngest was 12 and the oldest was 18) on a trip to rugby “mecca” – New Zealand. While sharing with me. home of the legendary All Blacks. As part of the tour. I tried my best not to do anything stupid or anything that would offend them. respectful and humble person now because of living with his billet family. 17.However.” – Mohd Alfian. Yet these seemed to make a huge difference for some of the boys. He is a much more mature. Some time during his stay with his assigned family. Below are just three of many instances in which I noticed a change in attitudes and behaviours. visit Eden Park. I started noticing changes in attitude and behaviour stemming from seemingly ordinary circumstances that I would not have given a second thought to. This touched him and made him realise that it was better to be humble than arrogant. supported by one physiotherapist. For many of the boys it was a first in more than one aspect – first time on a plane. Subsequently during the trip and even after returning to Singapore. In October of 2012. he realised the importance of being humble. took him in so willingly and offered all that they had to him. which took them out of the comfort zone into a completely new environment. first time this far away from their parents and the comfort of home. He believed that he was better than other players and hence hardly passed the ball to his teammates. I had honest concerns if he was going to be a good house guest or more of a pest. he said that it was because they were so friendly. “I didn’t know if what I did might offend them. Alfian was seen by most as arrogant with peers and even when speaking with coaches. participate in a coaching clinic by coaches from a professional rugby team and visit an arts and culture institute of native Polynesian Maori. .
our boys had to face the Waiheke haka. he more than makes up for in speed. Sometimes that is what triggers change: Once the excitement of knowing what treasures you might uncover by digging deeper catches hold. Since then. Abdul is doing much better in school. They fielded their most experienced team who naturally also had a physical advantage. During the trip however. the island’s population of 5 . “When I first arrived at NZ. . To say that they don’t like to lose is an understatement. But I can confidently say that I’m proud of myself as I have learned that it’s not about the size but the heart you have when you're playing the game. 15. In addition.” . However he believed that he was not good enough and this lack of confidence led to lapses in judgement and poor decision-making skills on the field.Mohd Abdul. the cold was unlike anything our boys had experienced before. I could see genuine curiosity and willingness to learn more about its heritage in his eyes. This was going to be the last match of the tour and the Kiwis were throwing down the gauntlet. It makes me want to know more about them. The effect of the “ah-ha!” moment. 17. The first match two days earlier was against less experienced Waiheke boys and ended up in a draw. Abdul always struck me as being disinterested in most things and this affected his studies. However. What Gary lacks in size. Despite living in air-conditioned Singapore. it was only at this moment that he experienced the truth of what he had been telling him. The effect of changes in beliefs and attitudes were best seen during our final match against the locals. Added to this. Although we have always taught him that it is not about size. Gary witnessed similar sized Kiwi players making and breaking tackles that he had not thought possible before. the traditional Maori war dance that is a prelude to all New Zealand matches.“The Maori culture was amazing. The crowd turned out in throngs. New Zealand is a rugby crazy nation where the sport took its place next to religion. he was really taken and fascinated by Maori culture.000 had heard about how the small Asians from Singapore had managed to draw with the team from Waiheke and wanted to see us suffer a thrashing this time round by their best players. his confidence has grown and he is even leading and giving teammates pointers on the field today.” – Gary Tan. Today. excelling in his course in one of Singapore’s polytechnics. made popular by the All Blacks. I was nervous to play with Waiheke high school because of my size. it becomes addictive and you start applying that anticipation of future possibilities to other areas of one’s life. we were playing on their home turf during the autumn season. It seemed to intrigue him and stir his imagination.
the once disinterested Abdul encouraged and rallied his teammates throughout the match. That match made me particularly proud to be their coach and was one that changed the Kiwis’ view of Asian teams. It seems that the new environment coupled with individualised crystallisation of why change was necessary and possible made all this a reality.Despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges. Leaders need to help each member of an organisation come to a realisation that there is a different reality –a bigger reality than what we currently know. our boys pulled together as a team like never before. mutually align their personal beliefs with the brand intent and behave in a manner reflective of the pillars of the organisation. we must make the event relevant and create that “ah-ha!” moment for each individual in order for there to be lasting and significant change. we responded in kind with all of five coaching staff. This is by no means an easy task. Brands cannot evolve successfully unless everyone commits to. If we can do this well. Both sides congratulated each other on a well fought match and celebrated with a huge barbeque organised by the hosts. petty things that we used to obsess about wouldn’t seem to matter that much anymore. and makes lasting efforts to see the change through. Hundreds of island residents cheered on the Waiheke boys. Island residents were beside themselves. Daunting as it may seem. . I could see the lasting effects of change. Over eighty minutes. again. But in order for them to get on board. They could not understand why they had not won. each side took the lead numerous times. The game ended in a draw. The world is much bigger than we had originally anticipated. Alfian passed the ball more deftly. everybody needs to internalise the change. Both changes in attitude and behaviour were consistent and tangible. the smaller. and Gary made countless amazing tackles. A Brand Rally is only one platform for everybody to come together. My Own “ah-ha!” Moment Back in Singapore.