To build a winning mentality in your business, the best vision and strategies are the ones that you can easily bring to life. They are so clear that everyone can imagine what they will look and feel like and can fully believe in.
of the best examples I’ve witnessed was at a Premier League Football Club.
Ending the drought
The new Owners at the Club had a vision to win the
first major trophy after a 35yr drought. To achieve this, they would need to
invest in the right players (which were highly expensive assets), though this
investment alone wasn’t enough to guarantee success. The manager and the Club
had to ensure that the players adopted a ‘one team’ mentality. They needed to
adopt a shared strategy and tactics to win, as opposed to simply playing in
silos. In fact, this was comparable to a manufacturer investing in the most
up-to-date machinery. It is only with the right vision and a strategy to
generate orders, or with the best process to set up and integrate the machines,
that he will successfully get the maximum return from his investment.
Building a winning mentality
The strategy was to create the conditions within
the Club for us to be able to win the trophy. Key to the success of the Vision
and the Strategy was turning a Survivor’s mentality into a Winner’s
The Staff – aggregation of marginal gains
With the staff, it was all about communicating the
importance of getting the detail right “off the field” in achieving the right
performance “on the field”. Each person had their part to play and the
aggregation of these marginal gains would be what led to the win. This helped
everyone to start to see themselves as a ‘Club’, rather than a team of just 11
players. As we approached the Semi-Final at Wembley, a whole new challenge
opened up. It was the current Club’s first experience of preparing for a match
at Wembley vs. their own stadium. The leadership team worked hard to ensure
that every person involved could visualise the part they played in a potential
win. It was an exciting period, where we learned rapidly, and our approach was
significantly refined from lessons learnt between the Semi-Final and the Final.
The Fans – speak up for what you want
For the fans it was a question of emphasising the
power of their voice. We showed just how important the sheer sound of their
support would be to the players in a venue such as Wembley Stadium. To do this,
we worked closely with the Heads of the Supporters Clubs and via Fan forums. We
also made it clear to the fans that this trophy, once won, would be the trophy
for them as much as the players and the club. If we won it would go on tour
around the country after the win where fans could proudly hold it up high in
their local Community, just like their players had at Wembley. For many people,
the vision of getting rid of the Club’s key rival’s flag, which highlighted the
Club’s long trophy drought was every bit as motivational for the staff and fans
as winning the trophy was!
The Players – see it, believe it, achieve it
Amongst the players there were few in the team who
had won a major trophy. To address this, the coaches invited the World Cup
winners and and those who had won major trophies with other Clubs to share
their experiences of the excitement and elation of winning a trophy and what
winning felt like as a player. Secondly, and probably most motivating of all to
the less experienced players, those players who had last won a trophy back in
’76 were invited in to explain how it felt to be a winner, how it felt to do
that for your Club and how it felt to be adored by the fans who you had won the
trophy for. The players were armed with a clear vision of ‘winning’ in their
minds, to carry in their head as they went in to the Semi-final and the Final.
Building traction in the vision
the trophy was won, and celebrations over, the leaders of the Club used the shared
success to create momentum in their strategy, pushing their stakeholders on to
the next win and the next trophy. Every employee meeting, players meeting and
all communications with fans had to be approached with confidence and the
vision of the next win at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Asking the right questions
the outset, when faced with the legacy of a 35 year winners ‘drought’, the
questions that this Premier League Club asked of themselves are the same
questions that we should ask ourselves to achieve a successful business vision
- How can we create such a compelling
vision that people can see it, feel it, breathe it, be hungry for it?
- How can we engage all stakeholders in a
way that’s meaningful to them and which creates the right conditions for
success? What is most going to motivate them?
- How can we get people to believe in the
vision and strategy and keep believing on the journey in spite of the
inevitable ups and downs?