What the World Cup Can Teach Us About Business
By Tim Walker
I’ll admit, I’m a soccer novice. But I have a feeling I’m in pretty good company during the World Cup. Here in Knoxville, Tennessee…we’re generally more concerned about the OTHER football.
There’s clearly something to “The Beautiful Game.” After all, it’s the world’s most popular sport with 3.5 billion fans and 250 million players throughout the globe.
After watching a couple of tournament games so far, here are 3 observations that I think we can use to improve the way we do business.
Control is essential
Controlling the pace and rhythm of the game is extremely important. The team that has the bulk of possession time is able to set up plays and wear the other team out.
Likewise, a company that has defined goals and makes steady progress has a much better chance of success. When we create systems and concrete goals that work, it makes changing those goals and adapting to adversity much easier. Otherwise, your employees will always be reacting rather than controlling the situation. Control, it’s what helped the turtle beat the hare.
Speed in any game can help to overcome a lot of other team deficiencies. In soccer, speed can keep a superior team on its heels. If you've got the ability to break out, you’ll force your opponent to play a more conservative game.
In business, the company that can react to industry change has a decided advantage. Don’t confuse this with making fast (unreasoned) decisions. If you’re opponent figures out that speed is your ONLY game, they’ll adjust. After all, that kind of speed is what doomed the hare. This is a reasoned quickness that sees an opening and takes advantage. You need to know when to use speed to your advantage.
This kind of speed is on display every day in the world of tech start-ups, where agility and the ability to react to a changing market can mean millions…or billions.
Nobody likes a flop
Wow, is this one ever big. Flopping (or, if you prefer, diving) seems to play a pretty big role in soccer. Players will fall, flail and flop to the ground, lay motionless for several minutes, writhe in pain and get up like nothing happened. Flopping appears to have a couple of purposes: to give your side the change to rest, or, to draw a penalty/card. And you know what, EVERYONE can spot a flop.
How easy is it for consumers to spot a disingenuous advertising or marketing ploy? In today’s social media environment, those mistakes can take on a life of their own. Honesty is a premium that many companies appear to be exchanging for the bottom line, and the prevalence of online reviews (sites like Yelp and Yahoo!) is turning the table. Shooting straight with consumers is always the best policy, no matter what the short term gain may be.
What business parallels do you see when watching the World Cup?