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Rugby World Cup - 'Tackling' Prosociality!

With the Rugby World Cup 2019 in full swing in Japan let’s see how the Prosociality and ACT Matrix would add value to any of the teams:


Step 1 – Self Reflection

The first step would be getting all the players, coaches and support staff to complete an individual ACT Matrix [see below], starting in the bottom right quadrant with the question ‘What matters most to you about being part of this group*?’


*Use of the term ‘group’ rather than ‘team’ is to highlight that ‘team’ is a descriptor given to a high performing group, i.e. you can have a group of people that do not perform as a team



Each individual would then progress through each of the other 3 quadrants so at completion they would have recorded:


  • What they value in being part of this group

  • What are some of the internal thoughts and beliefs that could get in the way of achieving what is important to them

  • What are some of the behaviours that would move them away from what is important to them

  • What behaviours they need to demonstrate to be true to their values and move them towards what is important to them in being part of this group


Step 2 – Alignment

The second step is to have all the group members initially share their respective matrixes so that everyone could get an understanding of what is important to each individual and some of the challenges and opportunities they saw in how best to contribute to the success of the group.


Then as a group [in the spirit of collaboration and cooperation] they would now complete a collective ACT matrix again starting in the bottom right quadrant but this time responding to the question ‘What matters most to us in being part of this group?’.

The conclusion to this process would be a [negotiated] road map that sets out the key agreed values and behaviours that all can sign-up to as a group in their pursuit of the World Cup [and all other measures of success they collectively agree as important]


Step 3 – Implementing the Core Design Principles / Goal Setting

Through the previous alignment step the group has essentially worked through Core Design Principle 1 [CDP1] – Shared Identity and Purpose. In essence they have agreed on what they want as a group and the set of values and accompanying behaviours to achieve their group purpose.


The group would then work their way through CDPs 2-8 being as specific as possible in identifying how they will collectively ensure:


  • that what is asked of each group member is fair and reasonable based on their group role and are rewarded commensurately for their contributions [CDP 2 – Equitable Distribution of Contributions and Benefits]

  • that the right people [e.g. most interested/qualified/ and relevant] are included in the [agreed] decision making process [CDP3 – Fair and Inclusive Decision Making]

  • that an effective peer review process is operating to monitor all agreed behaviours/actions [CDP 4 – Monitoring Agreed Behaviours]

  • that they have determined and will apply appropriate responses to acknowledge and recognise those that are performing to or above expectations that promote the purpose and goals of the team and equally those that are performing below expectations in respect of supporting the purpose and goals of the team [CDP5 – Graduated Response to Helpful and Unhelpful Behaviours]

  • that there is in place a process for any conflicts and disagreements to be aired and resolved as efficiently and effectively as possible [CDP6 – Fast and Fair Conflict Resolution]

  • that the group in general and defined sub-elements of the group have an appropriate degree of autonomy to make decisions and take action within their agreed remit without undue influence and second-guessing from outside of that grouping [CDP7 – Authority to Self-Govern}

  • that the group has identified others outside of the group that they could share information and resources in a collaborative mind-set that will add mutual value to each party [CDP8 – Collaborative Relations with Other Groups]

Step 4 – Road Map Implementation

Step 5 – Ongoing monitoring and Review

Step 6 – Adjustments as required

Step 7 – End of World Cup Review and Learning


The much publicised sacking of a world-class player from the Australian team prior to the World Cup for posting what some saw as a controversial message based on the player’s personal religious beliefs has been seen by many as a ‘Freedom of Religion’ issue. However in legitimately applying a ‘prosociality’ lens to this whole issue, one could see how such a behaviour could be contrary to the overarching purpose and identity of the group, and as such could be seen as essentially ‘selfish’ behaviour and not ‘collaborative’, and probably engendering group disharmony and subsequent sub-par performance. One can easily imagine that posting of contentious social media messages would be seen as behaviour that would be likely to move the group away from its desired purpose and identity. If the prosociality system was in place this potential conflict as to purpose and identity could have been identified and either dealt with in Step 2 as outlined above or if occurred later then dealt with as required under CDPs 4-6. Far from being an issue of religious freedom it would be far better viewed and dealt with under a prosociality [collaborative] framework where you are seeking to incentivise collaboration and cooperation and de-incentivise any tendency for selfish behaviour of any individual.

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