‘Impact is contributing something to the lives of others’
Success is often a combination of a number of factors: team play, strategy, data, material and impact. This is true in major digital transformations as well as within professional sports. In this series of articles, management consultants from Anderson MacGyver talk with multi-time rowing champion Lisa Bruijnincx. In the first edition, David Jongste, who recently became the director of the Netherlands, talks to her about the meaning of impact.
The impact and goals of top rower Lisa Bruijnincx reaech far beyond the sport. While many fellow athletes have set their sights primarily on winning an Olympic medal, her main ambitions are to inspire people and make them better. She does that through sports and her studies in biopharmaceutical sciences – where she contributed to clinical trials, among other things. Medals and sporting achievements are nevertheless important sub-goals that also help her put things into perspective.
“When I think of impact, the first thing that comes to mind is that it is something that affects the lives of others: inspiring people through the sport of rowing to get the most out of themselves,” Bruijnincx answers when asked what the term means to her. “I started studying biopharmaceutical sciences because I was good at biology and chemistry, but also because during my internship I saw how much influence a medicine can have on someone’s life. To be able to contribute a little bit to that is impact for me. In addition, the concept relates to myself: my confidence and development, my place in the rowing world and society.”
According to David Jongste this is not very different at Anderson MacGyver. “For us, making an impact means helping organizations achieve their goals: serving customers, enabling different ways of working, developing and marketing products. We achieve this by getting the most out of IT, data and people. For us, impact also means being a facilitator for others. But why did you choose rowing?”
Bruijnincx says she started on the recommendation of her best friend’s father. In 2016, shortly after the Rio de Janeiro Olympics where the Dutch Nicole Beukers won a silver medal. “In an interview she talked about the process leading up to it – what she had done to get there and how awesome it was. I immediately knew: I want that too! I went to the same club and the nice thing is that I now see her every month.” In 2019, Bruijnincx won gold at the World Junior Championships.
“For us, making impact means helping organizations achieve their goals.“David Jongste – Director of the Netherlands & Management Consultant
Jongste recognizes the importance of having an appealing example. Someone who inspires you to do the same and keep going in the face of setbacks. “Is that what you think about when you need to push through?” Lisa Bruijnincx: “I row for a gold medal, because in the end that’s where everything from the preliminary process comes together. Even the difficult moments, for example when I’m training alone in a boat in the middle of winter. Then I think about all the good things that lie behind me and the euphoria of winning a possible gold medal.”
“So your athletic goal and compass are the Olympics,” states Jongste. “We as Anderson MacGyver are striving to be somewhere in terms of name and impact by 2030. That result is important, of course, but it’s mostly about the road leading up to it and the people with whom we make that journey. Working together, experiencing fun things. Overcoming difficult moments by reflecting together on what we do and how we can turn things around. But also by building teams around our customers and really doing it together, co-creating and celebrating successes.”
A common goal creates cohesive teams, according to Lisa Bruijnincx. “I sometimes describe it as ‘flying together’. When you know what you’re doing it for, momentum is more likely to build.” David Jongste adds: “When you see that things are developing, you get into a flow with each other. Those are the cool moments that you look back upon when things get a little more difficult later on. The insights you gain during the journey are much broader than just the sport – or in our case the profession.”
The Anderson MacGyver consultant then asks about the balance between her social career and professional sports. Do those things reinforce each other? Yes they do. “Through sports I learn who I am and what I am capable of – for example, in terms of perseverance. That translates to my self-confidence as a student or in my job. I know I can handle bad moments and work my way through them. I take that confidence with me for the rest of my life.”
Rowing on its own would be nothing for her. “The combination helps me put things into perspective. That life doesn’t revolve around professional sports and that one bad training session doesn’t define my day. Moreover, there is a life after professional sports. I have experienced several times what it is like to win and especially in the beginning it is awesome. But that euphoria fades away after two weeks. If only winning would count, you experience many small black holes in your active career. Imagine how it feels when you stop. Hence the balance. My connection with the rowing sport will not end after my time as a top athlete. After that I can mentor other talents, inspire them and so on.”
“I do see an analogy with how we stand in our work,” says David Jongste. “We often face complex issues at the organizations we serve. It’s often about getting to the bottom of things, breaking patterns and bringing people together. When we succeed, we make a substantial, impactful contribution. But it is also extremely important that we regularly take a step back from it.”
Lisa Bruijnincx: “A little room to breathe, so you can go at it again with fresh energy. By the way: none of my medals were an easy victory; there were always many obstacles to overcome. But that is what gives things added value and creates cohesion within the teams. That is much more valuable than gold.”
David Jongste: “Success indeed becomes more valuable when you have had to overcome obstacles. If you haven’t experienced friction, I wonder if the medal is shiny. Success is not an end in itself, but is especially important as fuel or catalyst for sustained and impactful change. That is always a journey with people for the longer term. That applies to you but also to our business – whether it’s about enabling the energy transition, optimizing a business in the logistics sector or other big challenges. It’s ultimately about the impact for others.”
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