World Cup Succession Planning

One of the pleasant surprises of the 2014 World Cup is the artistry coming from unexpected teams and unheralded talent. Odds-makers and media experts have been forced to recalibrate their predictions. Savvy veterans are welcoming their youthful successors with appreciative celebration. The professional sports industry seems to embrace the seasonality of teams more effectively than other business sectors. Perhaps we should take a lesson.

Most businesses enjoy seasonal cycles where predictable windows of opportunity are leveraged to strengthen talent and performance. Highly visible off-season changes frequently overshadow the more subtle in-season adaptations orchestrated by strong leaders. The standard business playbook may have called for the recruitment of a particular type of talent to fill some turnover gap so the leader might field his or her best team. However, the standard playbook is often scrapped when an unforeseen mid-season disruption alters the priorities.

Strategic substitution transforms crisis to opportunity. Sometimes a smart risk stretches the capacity of a team and fuels the momentum of discovery. Finding a way to score when traditional means have failed separates those who play on from those who go home to plan their off-season changes.

In the complexity of predicting team performance, four anchors remain constant:

  • Alignment with a common mission/goal.
  • Accountability to collaborate respectfully.
  • Willingness to stretch beyond the comfort zone.
  • Poise and resilience during transitions and capacity to re-engage in new circumstances.

In the World Cup of business, this foundation will support any in-game maneuvers required when the game plan goes awry.