Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Summer Savings Up to 25% Off Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Oasis Listen in Prime Learn more

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars49
4.1 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 16 November 2004
As a Springbok supporter, Clive Woodward and his team have often been subject to much vitriol from yours truely in the "heat of battle"! However, putting allegiances aside, I decided to buy Woodward's book and was pleasantly surprised by it. Not only is it highly entertaining and easy to read but contains a lot of insightful information on the philospohies and techniques that moulded England into a winning team. Many of Woodward's successful methods are generic enough to be applied to any team, be they in sport or in business. I think this book is a must read not only for the rugby enthusiast but also for anyone interested in the areas of individual or team performance, motivation and leadership.
0Comment|9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 24 November 2004
Winning! is an unusual combination. It functions as a biography of Woodward, a history of the English rugby team's World Cup campaign and an analysis of management mehods used by the author in both in his business and coaching careers.
There is such a lot of material here that interest never wanes. I enjoyed the description of Woodward's early life and he doesn't pull his shots when it comes to the horrors of being denied football (his first love) whilst attending boarding school. He comes across as a much more likeable, humorous and maverick character than I had supposed.
Overall it's well-written and clearly structured. Woodward doesn't mind poking fun at himself and his very English love of tea, golf and Radio 4. A few dozen well-chosen colour photos add interest and stir memories of the historic victory.
There are some jarring notes. Woodward repeats a couple of phrases to the point of tedium: "He is on record as saying..." certainly got on my nerves and he devotes a whole page to a stilted poem sent in by a fan. Also some of the organisational charts he uses to illustrate his management thinking are a bit simple-minded to say the least.
Overall though this was an inspirational and entertaining read. Die-hard rugby fans may not learn much that's new to them but I'd go as far as saying it's about the best sports book I've read since It's Not about the Bike.
0Comment|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 3 December 2004
Whether you are a rugby or even a sports fan is irrelevant, this is a fascinating combination of a sporting life and a practical application of management theory and attention to detail. From the point of becoming England coach, he sets out his plan, his methods and his incredible attention to detail in the manner of operating a small business, (he was a very successful salesman for Rank Xerox in the 80's).
Some of his ideas are brilliant, all of his methods are fascinating and I feel there are lots of very valuable lessons to be taken from his book for anyone involved in the management of people. This is more like a contempary management guide than a straight sporting autobigraphy. The methods for getting 'buy-in', the fluid nature of the model he develops, the creation of an elite team in every single area of the rugby business, all combine to offer a fresh approach to the usual, often rather lame life of sporting hero.
I just wish he hadn't fallen out with Donal Lenihan, then perhaps I would have followed a successful Lions team around Australia in 2001.
Put it on your christmas list.
0Comment|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 August 2011
There are several reasons why reading this book should have delivered an epic fail for me. I've never played rugby. I've never watched rugby. I've never read a sports autobiography. So my natural interest levels are starting at absolute zero. Plus, this book is nearly 500 pages long, while life is short. And I have the vague preconception that its author is a fathead. Yet I persevere because a business buddy advised I should give it a try.

I'm glad I took his advice. I've never read a book like this one. I read business books regularly and even run a business book club called BookCamp. Many business books look to the world of sport for inspiration, techniques and analogies between the two worlds. This is the first book I've read in which a sportsman draws lessons on success from business. In fact, Woodward explicitly wrote that Winning! is "intended to be a management book" (221).

That Woodward mentions other management books is unsurprising (164, 183, 309) as he was both a businessman and manager in his time. He talks openly and frequently about the advantages of his having personal experience both business and sport (68). To him, the point of neither is mere participation but success (xiv-xvi). That explains why successful entrepreneurs are also highly competitive, and elite athletes are often successful businessmen (255).

As for this book, Winning! is an easy read. It blends Woodward's personal story and the story of the England Rugby teams triumph is 2003 with training manual like insertions as to how he achieved it all. So there's something for both sides of the brain. Did I write `something'? I meant `everything'! Strewn throughout the chronological narrative are all the diagrams, lists and charts you could ever desire, all set in context like living case-studies.

Let's mention the man himself. Woodward comes out well, keen to lavish praise on payers and background staff aplenty, determined not to criticise or break confidentiality (163), while able to roast himself severely at times (294), and even mock his own alleged vanity (36). He's a man obsessed (26, 154, 294). His instincts are optimistic (175) and meritocratic (39, 57, 143). He believes in fun (116, 136). I find myself won over.

Woodward's central concept in the book is also its title. Winning is not just about putting more points on the scoreboard. It's both an ideal and a sensation that involves performing at the highest level after the best preparation and the most exertion (xiv). It is a way of winning a game (55), a sensation of excellence achieved (84). Woodward speaks of it as a `peak state' of experience, reminding me of Csikszentmihalyi's flow state of optimal experience (155).

Woodward spends much of the space in his book teasing out what he means by his idea of winning. I've shaped it into five categories to help me get my head around the material as a reader and reviewer. It may serve to give you a taste for of the book's conceptual themes.

Winning is total. When Woodward talks about `total winning' he is serious. The concept of `total rugby' was first invented by a bloke called Jim Greenwood (48-49, 102). From what I can tell, it means at least two things. Firstly, there's more to playing a sport than mastering the necessary skills. You also have to bring in weight training, opposition analysis, mental conditioning, diet and nutrition programmes and all the rest. But it also means that players should not be limited to playing as their position demands but can do what they can as attacking, defensive or supporting players. Woodward calls this "the antithesis of safe-play rugby".

It made me think of applications to business and management coaching. How can, say, a company director perform to a standard of excellence when he is overstressed, undertrained, and out of shape? Surely the mind and body form one system of operation? And what about a company structure that actively gives its staff the autonomy to do what they need to get the job done, rather than restrains them by hierarchies and set roles, killing all initiative and internal motivation from the start?

Winning is preparation. This is probably my overwhelming takeaway from Winning! The sheer amount and detail of planning and preparation that went into winning the world cup was staggering. Woodward thought about every single aspect of the game, before, during and after. For example, Woodward made sure that the players' experience from the moment they left their house to the moment they returned was designed to leave them relaxed and focused (198). He lists all kinds of these `Critical Non-Essentials' (196-7) that have the power between them to make or break a game.

As far as the actual game was concerned, Woodward again left nothing to chance. He developed a special plan of `Second- Half Thinking' to give players a mental strategy for that part of each game (267). In fact, come to think of it, a large chunk of Woodward's efforts were devoted to mental preparation as much as knowledge of skills, strategy and rules. A good example of this was his `Correctly Thinking Under Pressure' programme (283) that taught the players how to hold their nerve in the last minutes of each high-pressured game. Which brings me nicely to my next point.

Winning is psychological. `Mindset' is a word often used in Winning! An entire chapter (ch. 12) is devoted to it. Intense mental preparation is seen as being vital (252). Woodward worked with sports psychologist Yehuda Shinar - who has since written a book forwarded by Woodward called Think Like a Winner - to help the team with mental preparation and conditioning (274). He hired a company called Matchpower to create specialised programmes so that players could improve their decision-making under pressure (411). As Woodward puts it, winning happens "between the ears".

Winning is creative. It does not happen in a straight line (xiii); it thinks differently. Woodward equates `safe and conservative' with `predictable and boring' (64). He raves against tradition, set ways to doing things, `inherited thinking' (38). Overcoming such obstacles was one of the main achievements that made winning possible. In business and rugby, there are `no rules' in this sense (51).

As a business trainer, I note that Woodward employs de Bono's notion of `lateral thinking' several times (81, 163, 194, 215). To me, this spirit of unorthodoxy is most evident in the ways Woodward prepared his team for tournaments, using, at different times, aerobics (99), music (100), laptops (2230, Royal Marines (233), wrestling, judo and breathing (306), and vision training (326). Little wonder the guy liked quoting Hannibal (167), as do I. Hurrah!

Winning is ruthless. This is partly related to creatively and partly something else. If you are creative, it means you are ruthless is tearing down old ways of thinking and behaving. But it also means that you'll do whatever it takes to win. For all Woodward's lofty ideals about the nature of winning, finally, it means beating your opponents, and cutting out whatever niceties are holding you back. He quotes Sun Tzu - that war guru beloved of aggressive businessmen everywhere - favourably (183).

Woodward is therefore not a `play for the sake of playing' man; this is the amateurism and the disastrous `Corinthian spirit' that he starts the book by condemning. It interested me that the Australian Press compared him with Douglas Jardine (352), perhaps the only other sportsman whose life I'd care to study. He too, in the field of sport - in this case cricket - did what was necessary rather than what was nice, conventional and expected, in order to win. Just right.

Other nuggets of wisdom that struck with me include:
* Woodward's three-step process of think-plan-do (95)
* Woodward's tripartite strategy of playing to your strengths, making it enjoyable, and doing things differently (96, 114), which seems to me to be the essence of all true cosmic wisdom
* The `Success from Setback and Build on Success' motivation tool (258)
* Differentiating push from pull strategies (190), as well as energy sappers from energisers (263)
* All the cool diagrams (154, 211, 263, 265, 307-15, 391, 417-9) for which I am a complete sucker

Yes, there are plenty of sports autobiographies, and yes, there are plenty of business books. But I can't think of any other that combines the two in this way. Even the offerings of Tim Gallwey and John Whitmore, as worthy as they are, don't come close. They start with a coaching method that can be applied to both business and sport, whereas Woodward draws directly from business to sport using whatever works. In this sense, Winning! is the only book of its kind in the stadium.

Interesting pictures. A thorough index. Inclusion of official documents for completeness. My only problem - now the Aussie's know all his secrets...
11 comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 July 2005
I was recommended this book by a rugby fan friend who thought I might enjoy the 'business' aspect of Clive's management style. Wasn't convinced but tried it anyway and found it a very inspirational book regards creating great teams and how to manage them.
I found the rugby side of things interesting, as well as Clive's life, but the business ethics were the main reason for me reading.
I would say that these ethics are great if you are working with high level performers but can't see that it sits as well with running a day-to-day organisation where some people just see the job as a job. Very thought provoking though.
0Comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 31 August 2005
Since the Lions tour, Woodward's stock has plummeted, so is this guide to elite management still worth reading?
I would say, Yes, and you can actually begin to see why his approach worked with England and not with the Lions.
The basic thesis is that English rugby for decades could not think 'outside the box' and, with his business background, Woodward helped them to do this. That, combined with a relentlesss commitment to innovation, means that England were given every chance of winning the 2003 World Cup.
It's written for the cross-over business/ sports market, but is pretty accessible even if you have little interest in the other of these two areas. As a result, there's less player assessment than a rugby fan might hope for (though, reading between the lines, there are a few titbits: Woodward feels Phil de Glanville and maybe even Jeremy Guscott (hard to be sure on this), for example, held back the team.)
What's impressive about Woodward is his drive to try any route (eye coaching, training with the marines, redecorating the changing rooms) to give England the edge and his commitment to innovating, rather than just simply copying what the All Blacks were doing. A good example is changing shirts at half-time. It's still, let's face it, a pretty wacky idea, but it not only worked, but has been copied across the world.
He is also prepared to rethink the whole sport: instead of 'backs' and 'forwards', the game should be divided into 'attack' and 'defence'. And why not get a specialist kicking coach?
It's obvious now, but it wasn't before Woodward. And I would be very interested to see how he gets on in football (which he reveals is his first and true love). I feel certain he would get a specialist 'heading' coach, a 'taking penalties' coach, a 'corners' coach etc. And, frankly, I bet football teams would benefit as a result. Football's got all this money: why on earth aren't they doing this kind of coaching?
The key thing is, his approach takes time, so it will work in a football club, but not with an international team, unless they change the structure of the game.
It's noteworthy how much England cricket has learnt from the way Woodward structured the rugby team, and we seem to be getting the benefits of that now.
Woodward is far from perfect. He's a bit zealous in proclaiming the usefulness of some of his odder innovations, but at least he tries things out. And he was a crucial part in getting England to win the World Cup in 2003.
A very good book, that has made me think about what I could do consistently to improve my own performance at work, as well as leaving me with the warm glow of reliving the World Cup triumph.
0Comment|16 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 1 December 2006
Anyone who has built a high performing team will know it does not happen overnight. This is an insight into the building of the winning team that led to a national celebration using skills that are transferable into the business world. If you want to know about the Lyons tour buy another book and learn what happens when you can't apply the right techniques to a team.
0Comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 September 2004
As a southern hemisphere rugby supporter, I was greatly surprised that the English won last year's Rugby World Cup. So much so that when I saw this book I was intrigued that it might give some insight into how English rugby had turned around such a mediocre team into a world championship team in such a short period.
This book certainly went a long way to explaining how and why Clive Woodward was so successful at managing the English team. What surprised me more was that so many of the principals within this book are applicable to cutting edge business techniques. It is a real insight into how good business principals can be applied to any situation, even a sporting team to get exceptional results.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who avidly follows rugby and to anyone who wants new good ideas into how to improve a business.
0Comment|13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 25 July 2011
I was directed to read this book from a school PE teacher. I was undertaking another year as a football coach, and I asked said teacher if he fancied becoming my assistant for the new football season. He was unable to but we got speaking about coaching in general and the book 'Winning' was recommended to me.

Throwing myself into the book, I removed all divides that may have existed in terms of the shape of ball we were largely reading about, and focused on what the messages were.

To my surprise the book was a great journey of time, of struggles and change, which ultimately led to success.

The book is a combination of memoir and coaching guide. Sir Clive begins by talking about his love of football and being half decent to the point he was scouted but not allowed to participate before being sent to boarding school where rugby was the main sport. He eventually puts his disappointment behind him and learns to love Rugby. The book charts Sir Clive's introduction to the sport, his desire to win whilst a player and then coach, and the difficulties and prejudices he faced over a twenty odd year career.

As a coach, I wanted to see what steps and changes he made to make England rugby move from a top ten world team, to be ranked number 1 and bookies favourite to win the world cup in 2003, and actually winning the cup on Australian soil. The book is a warts and all inside account of the old school amatuer structures he was up against in an era where Rugby was moving to professional status. Sir Clive talks about change, change management, psychology and working with some of the best coaches in the world to make England rugby a world force.

If you are serious about coaching, no matter what sport you play, reading 'Winning' by Sir Clive Woodward would be a good place to start.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 February 2010
I thought this was good stuff as an account of what happened in the run up to wiining the World Cup and I thought his fights with the "old farts" was well documented too.
And well done for him for fighting those battles - without him doing that we would have had nil chance of winning anything.
But there is little here of "the Man who is Clive Woodward."
After reading it I felt I hardly new him at all and felt one might find him a rather cold fish, but maybe that is what you need to be successful?
There is also next to nothing about the personalities of the players.
Was it the harsh boarding school environment (which he hated but endured) that drained Mr. Woodward's emotions.
Was it that which made this book feel a bit cold?
I appreciate and respect that he did not want to do the dirty on any player but surely he could have listed something of each player's good points and undoubted qualities and shown how this was what made them come together as a team.
One loves the behind the scenes "Living With Lions" because you got to see the real players - some were quiet as mice but cool and effective, others were crazy loveable types.
That's what we wanted to see here.
And I agree with some other readers that the stuff about the company links was a bit dull. Personally, I cannot see how you can link running a team with running a business, but hey, I guess there is people who think there is a link
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)