8 things businesses can learn from football

Many people regard Johan Cruyff as one of the greatest football players of all time. Over the years his quotes have inspired and encouraged both athletes and non-athletes alike, and can even be applied to business.


Cruyff was not only a successful footballer, but he went on to become a top coach and manager. His quotes and maxims have been widely used in sports, but these sentiments can also be practised in business. Andrew Slaney – a Principal Consultant, coach and trainer in Business Improvement techniques and Lean Six Sigma at BSI – discusses why:


1. "You have got to shoot, otherwise you can't score."

Take some risks, invest in your business ideas or you'll never develop products that will maximise your success.


2. "Without the ball, you can't win."

If you don't continually produce what your customers want, then success can never be sustained. Continue to invest and always keep your eye on the ball, including updating your knowledge of customers, markets, competitors, suppliers etc.


3. "Every disadvantage has its advantage." 

Every situation has an upside or provides opportunities to learn. Mistakes made and the subsequent knowledge gained about internal weaknesses, external opportunities or a need to increase capabilities and adjust market focus, will always pay dividends in the long run. As long as your enhanced knowledge is transformed into the required actions.


4. "To win you have to score one more goal than your opponent."

Competitive advantage comes from capitalising on your strengths and mitigating your weaknesses to serve a specific customer – the one who's currently keeping score. Pay attention to this for all customers and you'll gain the points needed to win every time.


5. "Speed is often confused with insight. When I start running earlier than the others, I appear faster."

Do your homework early and really understand your customers, markets, competitors and internal capabilities. Only then will the many opportunities to gain the advantage before your competitors arise.


6. "Footballers from the street are more important than trained coaches."

Experience counts and the demonstration of real world success will always trump knowledge of the theories of how it 'might' be achieved. Remember this when recruiting, developing and promoting your staff.


7. "Football is simple, but it is difficult to play simple."

Aim to keep business models, systems and processes simple because they'll typically evolve to become more complex anyway. Remember, in most situations complexity breeds more complexity, and complexity equals cost. Often that additional cost provides limited extra value to anyone.


8. "Football is a game of mistakes. Whoever makes the fewest mistakes wins." 

In business, mistakes are inevitable and failures are sometimes inescapale. But it's important to learn from these experiences quickly. If you learn quicker, you'll get it right sooner and succeed more often in the future.


To conclude this article, Andrew Slaney leaves us with one more quote by Johan Cruyff that you may like to interpret for yourself in a business context:

"Quality without results is pointless. Results without quality is boring."


To find out more about how BSI and Lean Six Sigma can help to improve your business and make your game the best there is, please contact us on +44 (0)1908 814528, or visit our Lean Six Sigma page here.