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Insurance and World Cup Champions July 11, 2010

Posted by bernardrosauer in Customer, Human Capital, Process, Uncategorized.

I love soccer. Growing up, my family was a soccer family and I was just good enough to play the sport through college, where it started to not be so fun anymore.

Question from Caller
While listening to two international soccer commentators answering questions from US soccer fans last week, I heard a question that helped ‘tee up’ this blog entry. The question went something like this: “It seems that the American style of soccer most closely resembles the German style. Should team USA model itself after the Germans to increase its chances of bringing the US a world cup win?”

Answer from Commentator
Without sounding offensive, the commentators explained the challenge the US team has (and will continue to have) in a way that left listeners a little depressed but with an understanding why the World Cup quarter finals so often contain the same teams: Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, etc.

“The style of play is not something that can be copied. It must be genuine. It’s in the culture built from the ground up. When children in Brazil play, they learn from and emulate the world cup team as soon as they can kick a ball. The club teams in Brazil all have foundations based on what has evolved as a way of winning soccer games over many, many decades.” Juergen Klinsmann, a former German world cup player and coach said: “In the United States, the children play soccer to get into a great college or university. In Brazil and Germany…. children play soccer to win the world cup.”

In soccer as in business, innovation wins. The important thing to see, I think, is that while great teams have foundations steeped in things that work historically, once a team knows it can bank on that foundation 100%, it is only then that innovation leads to goals being scored through the fantastic creativity of what we see as star players. Teams don’t win by solely focusing on how things were done in the past or how they’re done in the present. And they sure don’t win by solely focusing on the future (and forgetting the past). Great teams, it turns out, understand that you’ve got to become very good before you can become great in a way that really lasts.

How to Become a World Cup Champion

1. Ensure simple clarity of purpose at all levels of your organization. ie. “To be the most recommended insurer in our markets”.

2. Ensure all activities (which are connected by processes, systems and then even larger systems) are in alignment with your purpose and are continuously improved upon. A common purpose and a common approach for problem-solving (ie. ‘lean’) will help you stay on top of things.

3. Ensure that from pre-employment candidacy through becoming tenured employees, people understand the purpose (so that when people are hired there’s clarity of purpose right off the bat….just like the young child in Brazil knows what his goal is the day he first steps on to a soccer field).

4. Ensure improvements begin through ‘voice of employee’ and ‘voice of customer’ and are fully supported by ‘voice of management’.

5. Understand the nature of cultural change and make sure that it is grown organically as often as possible and by force as little as possible. When force is needed, act swiftly and show little patience.

6. Understand that the root cause of lasting success is your ability to manage the customer-process-employee entities and value chain. A few recommendations for doing so:
Customer – Use Net Promoter Score. See http://www.theultimatequestion.com
Actvities and Processes – Visit http://www.Lean.org
Employee – Study wellness, positive camaraderie, equity and achievement. (and keep it simple.) See http://www.enthusiasticemployee.com

Well, I’m off to watch the Netherlands play Spain in the 2010 word cup final. Neither team has ever won a world cup final before. They must be doing something right. Are you?

Good luck!



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