In my opinion the triplets, as I am calling them, are fundamental. In general, when we hear these three words our thoughts go immediately to business issues.
When entrepreneurs plan their business objectives their ultimate goal is to be unique and different from competition.
Winning in the business world is an objective, whether winning market share or winning customers. In sports, winning is also the goal, whether it is winning the championship or improving on past performances. In today’s article we will briefly look at the first of these three important aspects, strategy, and eventually cover the other two in the next two writeups.
Strategy is open to different interpretations and it has become one of the most misused words and concepts.
In sports, I find that the most essential way of looking at a strategy is that of considering three elements, (OST), Objective, Strategy and Tactics.
OST is a very simple tool that helps to create and communicate a shared understanding of an organisation’s vision.
Objective is the first of the three fundamentals hence it is the most important initial step that defines what you want to achieve, the goals you want to reach and the specific results you aim for.
So, it is not about the what but the how, the what is known but the objective is to how reaching those set goals.
However, achieving the end goal does not automatically mean that winning is considered the ultimate measure of success.
Winning entails tuning according to circumstances. As an example, a football team might set an objective of avoiding relegation and not of winning silverware. That is a goal that if achieved is a winning target for the organisation that aimed for it.
Therefore, developing a strategy requires a clear idea of what defines the winning goal.
Not only in sports, but in any walk of life, being SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) about your objective is when you can start developing a clear strategy which is realistically achievable.
Once an objective is clear, a strategy has to be put in place.
At this point, it is important to avoid the mistake of puzzling strategy with tactics.
In simple words, strategy is a vision whilst the tactics are the steps and actions that will make you achieve the strategy chosen.
Recently I had a conversation with a person who leads a local football academy and asked him what is the strategy they are following.
His reply was that they want to become the top football academy by employing the best coaches who can attract young talented players. This purely shows a lack of clarity on a defined strategy which in actual fact is nothing more than a set of tactics.
Becoming a top football academy is a vision, the strategy, but employing the best coaches and attracting young talented players are actions which require other actions that ultimately reflect the strategy of the academy.
Outstanding strategies should be clear, bold and consistent. Strategies determine success of an organisation but in certain areas such as sports good strategies determine a collective success when common goals are set between all those involved.
In the majority of cases mixed strategies never work.
To explain better the perils of mixed strategies, let’s look at the English Premier League and the English Football Association, two different organisations that supposedly work together for the best of the English football game.
However, their strategies are incompatible to say the least.
Whilst the Premier League is undoubtedly a success story with an objective of being the wealthiest football league in the world, a strategy of building a global brand that aids football clubs to hire top players and coaches thanks to the generated revenues.
On the other hand, the English Football Association has little room left to promote its strategy successfully and the results attained by the national team in terms of tournaments won is a proof of this contradictory approach.
To the contrary, in Germany, the Bundesliga and the German FA are known to work closely together and adopt a more aligned strategical approach which contributed to a collective winning formula.
Using the principles of business strategies in the sports environment is a winning application. The frameworks are relevant to one another.
The critical thinking behind the development of a strategy is what contributes to the effectiveness and success of an organisation.
An entrepreneur who recognises a competitive situation and maximize team abilities understands the importance of a strategy.
Likewise, a sport administrator who develops a strategy which reflects the ultimate goals of the organisation will understand that the strategy tactics are equally applicable to business and sports and potentially bring identical success.
In conclusion, if you do not have a clear objective, you have no definition of winning, if you have no clear strategy, you have no chance of winning.
If you only have tactics, you have no right to win.
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