Iceland tied Argentina in a World Cup soccer game last week. It was a David-and-Goliath match. A tiny nation, home to only 300,000 people, against a country more than 100 times as large.
On paper, Iceland didn’t stand a chance against the much more experienced, highly professional Argentina, which was led by one of the best soccer players of all time, Lionel Messi. Argentina was expected to win by 2.5 goals and the odds were 10-1 against Iceland, the world’s smallest country, to win.
However, when the 90 minutes was finished, it was 1-1 and Argentines around the world were devastated.
So why was Iceland, despite such great odds, able to humble Argentina?
Iceland had a strategy.
Thinking the same as everyone else will get you the same results as everyone else. Iceland had a different strategy to play against powerhouse teams with incredible offence. Iceland’s strategy was to play a zone defence like the world had never seen.
When Messi, Argentina’s best player, beat two or three of Iceland’s players, there was a wall of three more standing side by side ready to defend.
Many times in business, we go up against competitors who have more talent, more money and a stronger brand than we do. However, rarely do we have strategies that can humble our opponents.
Iceland played as a team.
Does your organization play as a team or are there individuals in the group who think it’s all about them?
When we fail to play together for a common goal, we lose the potential of the whole unit.
Patrick Lencioni, author of the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, states, “If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”
Iceland definitely didn’t dominate Argentina but they did equal them.
Iceland had the right people in the right places and replaced players who weren’t contributing.
How many times do companies fail to replace employees who aren’t doing their jobs?
Often we think that if we ignore the problem, the people will quit or the problem will get better over time. This doesn’t happen!
When we deal with the issue early, we get back on track and reduce team stress caused by members who need a break.
Iceland was well prepared.
When was the last time your team had specific training to do their jobs better?
So often we think that our teams are “good enough” but we fail to consider that our competition is receiving superior training that will beat us in the long run. In our complacency, we believe that because our organization has some great members, we’ll continue to succeed as in the past, using the same plays, the same technology and the same systems.
Inevitably, we’re setting our company up for failure. Constant rejuvenation of our employees allows us to thrive in an ever-changing environment.
Iceland focused on winning.
Iceland only controlled the ball for approximately 30 per cent of the game, yet when they had a chance to shoot the ball, they did. Iceland was playing to win.
If there was no chance to shoot and Argentina was controlling the ball, the forwards were springing back to get into position to defend.
Are your staff focused on winning? Do they do their job and then move quickly to their next station or do they get distracted chasing loose balls?
Iceland has a coach who knows that each game is an opportunity to improve.
Heimir Hallgrimsson, the coach of the Icelandic team, is quoted as saying that his team is on a continuous journey and their success is not made or limited by one game or one tournament.
Is your organization on a journey, using each challenge as an opportunity to improve?
Do you have a coach with a long-term vision?
Troy Media columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Need help with your game strategy? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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