OPINION by Sir Ian Taylor:
Prime Minister, could we please have a chat about the team of five million?
When you look at the most successful teams in the world you will find, without exception, they are led by people who recognise that, in order to succeed, a team has to have a diverse range of skills that are brought to the game when they are most needed.
I think I speak for the entire country when I say your starting line-up for the fight against Covid was arguably one of the best, if not the best, in the world.
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We were up against a team we had never seen play before and its initial point of attack was the health of our people.
Bringing on experts in the field of epidemiology and health, then trusting in the science they brought to the game, was a master stroke that placed New Zealand at the very top of the leader board.
Yes, we dropped the ball a couple of times; masks and the slow roll out of a vaccine when it became available are definitely two that will need to be reviewed in the after-match analysis.
But this is not the time for that because we are where we are, and we need to play the game that is in front of us.
That game has changed.
Where our opposition initially focused on the health of our people we have seen now that it had a deeper strategy. It would also go after our economy, slowly but surely infecting, and in many cases, destroying the very businesses that will be needed to fund our team in the future.
Which leads me to the bench.
The players on the bench aren't there to replace the entire run on team, they are there to consolidate what those players have done. To address the strengths and weaknesses that the coach has identified so that we have the best shot at winning.
Now is the time to go to the bench, because we have identified the double game plan that has been unleashed on us. The first is Covid, now in Delta variant mode, has adjusted far faster to the changing playing conditions than we have.
The second is the unseen variant that is slowly but surely working its way through the forward pack, our economic engine. That engine will be desperately needed if we are to stay in the game after the initial opening rounds.
The lockdown system, alongside the MIQ booking platform, are two obvious weaknesses in our current game plan.
The economy simply cannot afford to keep replaying the same level 4 restrictions that played out over the past couple of weeks, nor can businesses expect to operate successfully on the international playing fields with an MIQ system that simply has no rules they can play by.
We do understand the pressure the coaching team is under when dealing to a game that is changing constantly on the field in front of you, but, if you could just take your eye off that field for a moment, you will see that sitting below you, you have one of the strongest benches in the world.
It's a bench that has built a global reputation for innovation. A bench that has always punched above its weight. A bench that can bring that good old number 8 wire thinking to the game that has so consistently bemused our global competitors.
And the secret here is that, whilst others thought the secret was the piece of wire, we always knew it was actually what innovative Kiwi did with that piece of wire that no one else thought of that was the difference.
Prime Minister, we are here sitting on the bench. We are part of your team of five million.
We are now asking that you bring us on to the field to consolidate the game plan that still has us, slightly, out in front.
We are already seeing rebel teams being set up overseas that could change the entire playing field. We cannot afford to lose any of the players on our bench to those teams. We need them here at home, as fit and as strong as they can possibly be because this is turning into a series where the winner takes all.
• In an upcoming second column, Sir Ian Taylor will expand on ways and means that the bench can help NZ's economic recovery. Taylor is the founder and managing director of Animation Research. He was named the 2019 New Zealand Innovator of the Year and in 2020 was awarded the Deloitte Top 200 Visionary Leader.