Who hasn’t been impressed with the success of Team GB at London 2012? Gone are the days when British Olympians seemed to achieve success in spite of the sports establishment, or were individuals of unique talent. These days, British sport seems to have more in common with a multinational company than with the individualistic brilliance of a Graham Obree (look it up) or a Seb Coe. Which means it may be time for those of us in business to see what we can learn from their success. With the current Olympics winding towards a conclusion, I think there are there things that stand out:
1. Success is about breaking big problem down into the details.
Look at Team GB Cycling. Yes, they have talented and committed athletes, but what’s more impressive is their approach. Take a big problem, break it down into 100 small elements and improve each one by a small amount. Put it back together and you have a big improvement. Ignore any one of the elements and you won’t be successful. I find their approach vastly more engaging than anyone discussion about ‘six sigma’.
2. Success takes time
Having the courage to stick at until you are successful has it’s poster-girl in Team GB athlete, Katherine Grainger. Not content with silver, she stuck at for three Olympics to get gold. How many projects that we know could be successful get binned because of a lack of short term success. Germany’s Mittelstand understand this.
3. Right people, right jobs
Business gurus write about this, business people talk about this, sports teams have to do this. It’s one of those things that nobody would argue with, but (in my experience) very few companies actually pursue.