US Oracle Americas Cup – An Excellent Team?

 US_Americas_Cup BBC Photo

Is the Oracle USA Team that recently won the Americas Cup an example of an excellent team? In this short blog I will use the Tom Peters’ Company Future Shape of the Winner TM model to help reach a judgement.


Future Shape of the Winner TM


The Future Shape of the Winner TM Excellence Model builds on the “systems plus passion” balance – a foundation of the Tom Peter’s client work over the last 30 years – with fresh insights, flexibility and practicality to help enterprises address the intense demands of our ever more agile and resource constrained world. Future Shape of the Winner TM is centred on Talent i.e. the people in an enterprise delivering the best work they can – and considers excellence in 3 axes:





How well are the enterprise’s people performing in relation to achieving the enterprise’s ambition? What do your customers experience when in dialogue with your enterprise? How can leaders enable their talent to deliver the highest quality work output that they can?


Gyrsoscope I sense that the Oracle Americas Cup campaign was a classic WOW project where it was essential to keep all poles of the enterprise gyroscope spinning in alignment.




A business ambition that has a unique appeal and demonstrates how the organisation can make a dramatic difference in their chosen field will attract and enlist the best and most talented people who want to work in that field. Looking at the resumes of the Oracle Americas Cup Team it is evident that they did indeed attract incredibly talented designers and sailors (including Olympic Gold Medal Winners). Moreover Larry Edison appears to have demonstrated the sort of overarching sense of cause with which talented people can connect instinctively and the Tom Peters Company have identified as present in Excellent teams.




On the basis of the information I have seen to date, I have not formed a judgement on the extent to which the overall Oracle Americas Cup effort utilised an “enabling” as opposed to “command and control”, approach for the on shore activities. On the water during the last few races it was evident that the team on the cat were working effectively together and I was interested to hear Ben Ainslie comment that one of the things he needed to learn when he joined the team was how most effectively to communicate information in a ways that encouraged but did not overload others.  Decisions on the catamaran certainly appeared to be lean and mean and overall my sense was that the architecture was indeed effective.



The assurance, energy and can do attitude (even when behind in the race series) were all clear to see – all exeplars used of excellence used in discussions of the drivers of excellence. The way the Oracle team stayed motivated when they were trailing in. Watching the final on my iPhone traveling home from an evening business meeting, I could not fail to be impressed with their overall performance and the way they shared this with their ”customers” planet wide. .



The vision that Larry Edison had for this latest Americas Cup incorporated a great that there would be greater engagement in the Americas Cup with an event format that included:


  • Incredibly advanced and fast boats,
  • Racing close to the shore
  • Sophisticated television coverage,


I believe that they succeeded in delivering an experience that was shared by a broader population of followers – an example of using ingenuity to find ways to package and deliver “entertainment” in a new way that was altogether more engaging than previous Americas Cop races.



Everyone following the Americas Cup event could not fail to see excitement, innovation, possibilities for personal growth and the fulfilment of an ambition – all were powerful contributions to enhance perceptions of the oracle brand. Most specifically, I sensed that the overall Americas Cup effort was very much aligned with the Oracle Technical excellence ethos (more clearly than the Emirates Team New Zealand brand linkages).


The use of the Oracle brand so visibly and consistently across the Americas Cup could well make a positive contribution to addressing Interbrand ‘s point that Oracle “will need to develop more emotional connections with its consumers in order to see itself into the future.”   



A world class team of specialists in all the disciplines involved in designing, building, testing, improving and racing the boat was a vital foundation for a viable Americas Cup challenge. The talent that Larry Ellison and his core team assembled demonstrated a mastery of the emerging technologies needed for this new type of racing.  Faced with a disastrous start to the series the team had the courage to change “the DNA” on the boat and appointed Ben Ainslie (a multiple Gold Medal Olympic Sailor) to the crew.  The ‘fight back” day-by-day was truly inspiring and a great example of focused effort.


An Excellent Team!

In my opinion the Oracle 2013 Americas Cup Team is an exemplar of an Excellent Team.


Two Questions for YOU:

  1. Can you suggest other teams that display excellence characteristics?
  2. How can you help your team grow attributes of excellence? Would an Excellence Audit TM help?