The Melbourne Cup: it’s not about the horses!

I was invited to a Melbourne Cup business lunch today. (Thanks C.S., that was very generous!)

Shocking wins the 2009 Melbourne CupIn Australia the Melbourne Cup is affectionately known as “the race that stops a nation”.

As a cultural event, I imagine it’s similar to America’s Kentucky Derby and England’s Epsom Derby.

Every year, however, more and more cynics seem to come out of the woodwork. They range from the “I don’t believe in gambling” crowd to statisticians who bemoan the nation’s lost productivity.

These people are oblivious to the fact that the Melbourne Cup is not about the horses.

Even if you don’t buy into the nationalism of the event, I hope you can appreciate its true value.

Picture this: In every state except Victoria (where Melbourne Cup Day is a public holiday) the race is a workplace event. The ladies wear a lovely dress with a hat or a fascinator. The men wear a smart suit and a tie. Someone will run a sweep. The boss will take us out to lunch, or we’ll organise a barbeque. Or if we’re lucky, one of our business partners will invite us to a swanky restaurant.

Oh, and we’ll watch a bunch of horses run around for a few minutes.

Everyone gets excited, all our gazes transfix to the TV until the first nose crosses the finish line.

Some of us win, most of us lose, while others deconstruct the “shoulda”, “coulda”, “woulda” – but didn’t.

And guess what: it’s fun.

Everyone’s smiling, chatting, laughing and generally having a good time. How often does that happen at work?

If you want to analyse it in terms of management science, why not consider:

Colleagues• engagement
• reward and recognition
• team building
• breaking down silos
• relationship management
• peer-to-peer networking
• social learning

…the list goes on.

But lost productivity?

Give me a break!

One thought on “The Melbourne Cup: it’s not about the horses!

  1. Couldn’t agree more Ryan.

    It can be tough for a manager to try and step back and get his or her team to take time out from their jobs and have a bit of fun doing something that they will all actually enjoy.

    The Melbourne Cup does all the hard work for the manager in this case as everybody knows what the day entails and regardless of their predisposition to gambling, horses or fancy head attire they can all manage to have a bit of fun and a laugh.

    If only this sort of thing happened on a more regular occurrence as engagement, team building, breaking down silos and face to face interaction shouldn’t only happen on race day and the Christmas party!

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