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World Cup Lessons for Organizations

As one of the biggest sporting events in the world is taking place, many of you are no doubt following the drama and excitement of the FIFA World Cup this month. Our TME staff is proudly supporting the USA national team.

As I’ve been watching the games, I have seen several parallel lessons, a few of which I have outlined below, that can be appropriately applied to organizations – small and large, for profit and non-profit alike.

  • Plan ahead – strategically. These athletes prepare for years for this opportunity; for many of them, their whole career is molded to make their mark on the global World Cup stage. This is not just a happenstance opportunity for these players, the coaches, and the teams; it was a calculated, strategic effort made by the combination of all involved that brought these teams to where they are today. Likewise, your organization should always have an eye on the horizon for what’s next: have a goal; make a plan; bring together a winning team, and utilize the combined strength and efforts of that team to create the strategic direction of your organization.
  • Have the right perspective. I am a spectator at these games, watching from my living room television or a projection screen at Dupont Circle (picture above). My perspective is that of an outsider, seeing only what the TV network shows me. The coaches have a different perspective on the sidelines, and the players and referees have yet another perspective on the field. A call is made on the field. Was it the right one? The answer may depend on your perspective. In the World Cup, there’s no time to pause and let the coaches and referees check all perspectives in slow motion; they must simply make the call based on their best judgment. Similarly, you may not have time to pause when making decisions for your own organization. But by planning ahead, strategically, you can make well-informed, educated decisions based on past experiences.
  • Success isn’t about just winning or losing. The scoring system in World Cup that determines who moves on to the Round of 16 (the start of elimination games) considers both wins/ties/losses as well as the point differential of the various matches. This means that moving on requires a team to play well overall, not just win or lose. This relates to your business in that you may be a phenomenal company with a quality product; however based on what the industry and your competitors are doing, you may or may not always come out with the win. The key is to find outside factors that will boost you into the win and play them to your favor.
  • Celebrate your wins. Big and small, wins are important to celebrate. And even if you didn’t get what you wanted exactly, still celebrate if it’s deserved. In USA’s match against Germany, we lost, but with the big picture in mind, the team is still moving forward into the elimination round, and that is indeed something to celebrate. Take a moment to celebrate with your own team at work. Did you raise your target funds? Did you win a huge contract? Did you reach your organization’s end-of-year goals? Celebrate! Mark the occasion with something your team will appreciate and use that energy to spur your organization on to the next big win.

Were there more parallels to be made here? Of course, but these are my main business-related takeaways at this point in the tournament. We at TME are cheering both the USA team as well as your organization on to continued success!

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