Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Lessons Companies Can Learn From Leicester City

The ultimate goal of every establishment, be it public or private, service or manufacturing, profit or non-profit making, local or multinational, is to survive. To become a trans-generational organization and not suffer extinction at some point is that sole goal which has pre-eminence over other organizational goals. Some organizations, however, per their core mandate, size and monopoly, automatically become industry leaders and so have the luxury of time to focus on other strategies as the goal of survival is a guaranteed one. The question therefore is, what should industry strugglers  do, to make them leap from a goal of survival to realistic position of industry leaders within the shortest possible time? This situation is not very different from major football leagues around the world. Those who emerge as champions, runners up and occupy other juicy positions on the league table are the big and the mighty clubs. These clubs have huge budgets, attractive sponsorship, and huge number of followers across the globe, and also possess the ability to attract and acquire the services of world class players. These so called big clubs are just about 20% of the total number of clubs competing in the league, leaving the other 80% to battle for survival from being relegated to the lower division. In the English premier league, since its inception, an order of potential winners has been established between four clubs, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. Any club that wants to join this prestigious club of winners must up their budget and sign marquee players to be able to compete. This was done beautifully by Manchester City in 2008, making them champions twice. Though this order was breached in the 1994-95 season when Blackburn Rovers won the league, it has not been a situation where the league can be won by a team with a small budget and average players ever since. The current season however presents an interesting case study.

Leicester City Football Club, nicknamed the Foxes have recorded very impressive results, presently occupying the summit of the table and becoming the bookmakers favorite to finish as champions in May. This is against the background that the Foxes were battling against relegation just last season, and the ultimate goal of the current season as well is to beat the drop. The budget of Leicester City has not changed much and they, by virtue of that, have to rely on average and fringe players. The big question therefore is how were Leicester City able to transform from a goal of survival to the realistic dream of premier league champions within two years? One strategic decision taken by the board of the Club after the end of the 2014-15 league season is the appointment of Claudio Ranieri as the next manager of the team. In his book GOOD TO GREAT, Jim Collins recommends among other things, the appointment of a Level 5 leader as a necessary prerequisite for any organization that wants to take a major leap from a good position to becoming great and industry leader. A Level 5 leader refers to an individual who is very humble on a personal level, and possesses a great deal of drive and desire to succeed, where success is not personal but defined by creating something great that will outlast their time at the helm. The Board espouses this principle by appointing a Level 5 manager in the Italian tactician whose coaching career saw him managed in Italy, Spain, England, France, and Greece. He is considered to be well suited for the English league, having previously managed Chelsea and taking them to second position in the league as well as the semifinal of the UEFA Champions league in his final season at the Stanford Bridge. Very close to the decision of hiring a top manager is the three-faced task of player recruitment. Most important is the need to keep some of the current crop of players who are top performers and are targets for rival teams. There was also the need to add more quality to the team to avoid a recurring relegation battle. Organizations need to periodically refine their team by ensuring they have the right people “on the bus”. Recruitment exercises should be inspired by honest talent search and not an opportunity to reward people. All said and done, decision-making is key to every organisational transformation and success.


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