The BoF Podcast | Owen Eastwood and Tim Brown on Building High Performing Teams



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Background:

As a performance coach to England’s national football team, the Royal Ballet and more, Eastwood taps into his Māori heritage to help groups foster a sense of togetherness and drive performance.

For Allbirds co-founder and chief innovation officer Tim Brown, co-founder and chief innovation officer at Allbirds, a company that has gone on a rollercoaster of ups and downs since it IPO in 2021, his former  life as a professional football player for New Zealand has taught him lessons he’s brought from the pitch to the boardroom.

“When we want to create a high performing environment, we make an undertaking to each other that we will do nothing to diminish the dignity of every person, and when we all leave this experience or whatever it is together, our dignity will be enhanced,” Eastwood told Brown stage at BoF VOICES 2023. “For me, therefore, you need to understand the story of the people you work with.”

This week on The BoF Podcast, Brown and Eastwood unpack how companies can drive high performance while maintaining a supportive culture.

Key Insights:

  • While working with the British Olympic team, Eastwood encouraged the athletes to find a level of investment in their own story by creating a film which showcased various Olympians all the way back from 1896. “The Olympians themselves just took selfies the whole time with these images of those ancestors who they in particular could relate to, maybe something that shared their own identity story. I think it opened their eyes.”
  • Allbirds was founded in 2024 with a mission to make sustainable footwear, but 10 years on, Brown said that he’s learned how important it is to stay true to that internal story, both in communicating with employees and consumers.  “As a creative person, as a storyteller, are we doing enough within our organisations to tell stories internally in the same way that we’re telling them outside of the organisation?” he asked.
  • Eastwood said those sorts of strong, dynamic, internal stories are key for everyone on a team. “You’ve got to create rituals and traditions where it’s reiterated because actually it’s not just for the benefit of new joiners, it’s for the benefit of us who have been here a long time.”

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