Another international football championship is over, with England once again departing early to the inevitable penalty shoot out. I caught a review of the tournament on the radio and it got me thinking what, if any, lessons there were for business to take from the tournament…
Have a strategy
Spain have won three international tournaments in a row playing a style of passing football that you could argue is changing the beautiful game. I don’t have a good enough football knowledge to compare this Spanish team to the all time great sides, but it does seem they are defining a method of playing that other countries have to adjust to. For all the beautiful football, they’re also strong in defence and didn’t concede a goal in the knock-out stage of the tournament.
Lesson: Have a strategic plan built on strong foundations.
Bring out the big guns
The Portugal vs Spain game finished 0-0 after extra time and so was decided on a penalty shoot out. Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the best players in the world, was held back to take a later penalty but Portugal had lost before he even had the chance.
Lesson: Put your best people on your most important initiatives early.
Don’t write people off.
Arguably the player of the tournament, Andrea Pirlo, was released by AC Milan who believed his best football was behind him and he didn’t have the fitness to continue at that level. He stepped up Euro 2012 and tore into England and Germany.
Lesson: Take advantage of your experienced talent and don’t dismiss it.
Invest in youth.
It’s no coincidence that Barcelona have enjoyed domestic success during the same period that Spain have been dominating the world stage. With a great academy system and new talent coming through, Spain (and Barcelona) look likely to be threats for years to come.
Lesson: Have a pipeline of up and coming talent in your team you’re developing.
Don’t be afraid to stand still.
This is a tough one for me as I like to see new ideas all the time, but you can’t fault the study. A group of Iranian Economists conducted research into penalty shoot outs with the aim of determining the best strategy the goalkeeper should take. After analysing the data, the statistics showed that a goalkeeper would save more shots by simply standing still in the middle of the goal than diving to either side. So why do ‘keepers dive? It’s because they feel they have to be seen to be trying to save the shot – no-one ever gave the goalkeeper that lept one way or the other a hard time.
Lesson: Sometimes (just sometimes) standing still and observing is the right option.
There you have it, 5 business lessons from Euro 2012.