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Football: A Great Collaborative Game – Dare to be different

Achieve Reach, Richness, Speed and Execution in Strategy Management

Strategy Engagement & Execution remains one of the biggest challenges in an organisation. Although everybody will agree how important it is to engage people, it is certainly not an easy task. Engagement generally occurs at the “annual get together”, providing a town hall or one-way communication type of environment.

Scientrix has designed an innovative approach to engage people in the strategy formulation process, to align the collective thought process to overall strategic outcomes and to execute strategy with success.

Using something new like matrices and social technologies requires change and a willingness to learn. In order to engage people to participate we have designed several “game analogies” with the objective to reach more people, to achieve innovative outcomes, to speed up solution design and to master execution.

These games analogies contain elements of both fun and discipline. Our three most popular analogies are the “Football Game Analogy”, the Art Analogy, and the “Lord of the Rings” Strategy Board Game. In this document we explain the Scientrix Journey using “the Football Analogy”.

The Game

Appoint the right coach

Football coaches do not just fill out a team sheet before the game and then watch the players run around and try to score.

Coaches have an obligation to outline how the game will be played by defining what tactics or game plan is to be adopted. The coach is required to appoint the critical players on the field, care for their well-being, develop the skills of the individual players and constantly look for ways to improve the overall team performance.

The coach can be seen as the non-participating twelfth player as his adjustments during the game often directly affect the end result. This team management is a big part of the job, but so is giving players the correct skills, proper conditioning, game knowledge and self-confidence.

Understand the environment

There are many factors that can influence a team’s performance, some are clear and obvious such as lack of talent others not so much. A team that can understand and manage both the external (the players personal life or possible endorsement deals) and the internal (player competition or equipment availability) generally achieves the better results. The ability to understand how these factors interact is an essential component to any successful team.

Much the same can be said about the corporate environment as the having the capability to set a framework for understanding your external economic, social, competitive and customer environment to your relative strategic positioning is a must. It will enable you to see your position as part of “big picture”. You can understand which aspects of your position are secure and which are the most dynamic and likely to change.

Positioning awareness can also force you to see yourself through the eyes of others. Using positioning techniques, you broaden your perspective by gathering a range of viewpoints.

We use a combination of established methods such as Porter’s 5 forces framework and others in the context of a matrix so that you can get a clear overview of your broader environment.

Outline the playing field

Let’s talk tactics! Outlining the playfield is perhaps the most challenging part of the soccer strategy game. If the coach gets this wrong, the chances are high that the game will be lost. The coach needs to put in place the strategy his team is going to take to the field. Will the team sit back and play defensively with the aim being to catch their opponents on a counter attack? Will the team adopt a long ball approach to strong, tall strikers or a more progressive slower build up tactic passing the ball through their team to identify defensive weaknesses in their opponents?

It is vitally important that the team understands these tactics, that they can adopt them and most importantly that they can achieve them.

The playing field on the x-axis outlines a clear destination in the future with milestones over time (Team tactics) and on the y-axis the responsibility areas (The player’s positions) along a well-defined structure – be this the organization structure or any other.

Although this seems easy enough, if the journey and the structure is not well defined, the game will become messy as players fight for space. The following rules should always be taken into account:

  • The destination is clear – players need to know what they are aiming for.
  • The length and breadth of the playfield must not be too big – players can get lost.
  • Explore options before making a decision – find the best fit for your players.
  • The concepts should be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive (MECE principle) – you don’t want to have overlaps.
  • The division and balance between now and future should be clear – always have the team striving for future goals.

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Define the critical positions

A team that plays to its strengths and is aware of its weaknesses will find the beating of their opponents. A striker who doesn’t miss out on an opportunity does not guarantee you a win if you are leaking goals at the back. Every position on the field (matrix intersect) could potentially be a critical contribution to the successful outcome of the game. The idea is not to find every possible contribution but to find the highest contributors to a successful game.

The highest value contributors are those points that will deliver the highest value with the least efforts and risk to succeed.

The first step is to outline a map with all possible contributions or intersects. Time should then be spent on evaluating these options and then select the highest value contributing positions on the field.

The highest value contributors are those points that will deliver the highest value with the least efforts and risk to succeed.

Here are some tips:

  • There should more than 5 but less than 15 positions on the field – a soccer team has 11 players on the field.
  • Find a good balance between the “present priorities” and the “future priorities” – get the squad that will bring you success.
  • Consider the strengths of the different players – Do you have a Messi in your team?
  • Define which points will give you the best leverage to win.

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Select competent team players

People make up teams, and competent people are needed to create a competent team. You may have the most experienced and skilled team but unless you can find the right combinations and ensure the players work well together, you will always struggle to get that all important win.

There are two types of competencies in teams: technical competencies and personal competencies. Both of these competencies need to be present in every team for it to function well.

Further, the selection of members should be done relative to the team structural model. A large portion of successful teams can be attributed to ownership and accountability of the team members.

We need to understand what technical and personal competencies are needed to master every position on the field but also what kind of team structural model we need. Rather than opting for identical skills for every team member, ensure a good balance of skills.

Put everybody in a position to succeed. Players need to own their positions on the field and should be passionate to extract the most value out of each position but also strive to play a collaborative game – i.e. there is no “I” in team.

Clarify roles and expectations

Understanding how you as a player fit into the team, contribute to milestones and the role you play in the teams tactics is very important. Roles, accountability, and ownership are intertwined in any organisation, and in team based organisations it becomes important that everyone understands their role.

The role of the players:

  • Define & describe the contribution to the overall game.
  • Define the KPI’s that will demonstrate the success of this position on the playfield.
  • Collect knowledge about the position (documents, images, videos).
  • Write at least one blog about this position.
  • Define 4-5 steps (initiatives) with milestones and success criteria. Allocate teams to the initiatives.
  • Define “how these steps” will be executed – provide more detail.
  • Track progress of the steps required.
  • Maintain scorecard and assessment of this position.
Draw insights from the crowd

It is no secret that home ground advantage has a massive impact on the result of a game. This is largely to do the support of the fans sitting in the stadium. It is their support that drives the players to do better and reach that next level.

Successful teams turn their home grounds into a fortress that opposing teams fear. The capability to turn this energy and support into results requires creative ideas and the ability to identify new learning’s in a dynamic way.

Crowd sourcing is the practice of obtaining ideas or content on a specific item by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community.

By provide access to your work and ideas you will turn the crowd into fanatical supporters because cheering us on and helping us to win. The crowd often sees the game from a different angle than the players themselves. Open up the floodgate and let the ideas into the stadium.

Play to win

Herman Edwards, a visionary coach said:

“The first thing to understand is that WINNING matters, persevere, do not be afraid of making mistakes. When you see opportunity, grab it. Make the will stronger than the skills. Make everybody accountable. Do not waste energy on unknowns. Do not point fingers.”

Create close feedback loops between expected outcomes, knowledge, actions and outcomes for each player.

  • Demand discipline.
  • Battle the negative.
  • Watch the clock.
  • Learn the way.
  • Show the numbers.
  • Respect the journey.

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Finally, recognize and reward winners

  • Best team of the year.
  • Best coach of the year.
  • Best player of the year.
  • Best idea of the year.
  • Best initiative of the year.
  • Best results of the year.

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