Yesterday we took a group pic of our team at the office in Ghent. We were ready for the first game of the Red Devils at EURO 2016. Unfortunately our national team was not. The Devils lost the game with 0-2.

Looking back at it, I think there is a lot to be learned from yesterday’s game. Lessons that can improve your business and (hopefully) the game of the Red Devils next Saturday.

We were ready but our national team was not

4 things we can learn from the disastrous Belgium – Italy game


Lesson #1: Structure first!

Italy faced Belgium with a well-structured team and a plan of attack. They had clearly analyzed the Belgian team and they did a great job neutralizing our best players (on paper) and exploiting our weak points.

Belgium did not find an answer. The Red Devils lacked creativity, speed, accuracy and structure. As a result, the Italians got lots of room and many opportunities to hurt the Belgian team.

Lesson learned: Always start with a clear structure and plan and make sure everyone understands and sticks to the plan. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan and to have a team that is flexible enough to go for the backup plan if needed.

Lesson #2: Skills are nice, attitude is crucial

Belgium has the most expensive team at EURO 2016. Most of our players are key players at great European teams. Yet quite a few of our players looked unhappy and indifferent during the game. They didn’t show a will to win, whereas the Italians did.

The Squadri Azzurri may have less individual talent than the Belgian Red Devils (dixit Eden Hazard before the game) but they showed a much better attitude on the pitch. The Italian team wanted to win. And so they did.

Lesson learned: Great skills are nice, a great attitude is crucial to be successful at the moment of truth.

Lesson #3: There is no “I” in team

Yesterday, some (or most) of our “top” players had an off-day. That’s OK. They are only human. However, it struck me that the coach waited so long to replace some top players who were clearly underperforming.

Even worse, I had the impression that the coach didn’t want (or dare) to take out some underperforming top players. As a result, thousands of fans protested when one of our most energetic players was asked to leave the pitch.

Lesson learned: There is no “I” in team. Everyone should be treated equal. Especially with so much talent on the bench, it shouldn’t take so long to bring in other players. Football (and business) is not about individual victory. You win as a team and you lose at a team. It really is as simple as that.

Lesson #4: Always focus on your strengths

It was pretty clear that our coach had changed his team to match the Italian line-up. That’s OK. However, I think it would have been better if we had focused on our own strengths first.

Yesterday quite a few players didn’t play on their preferred positions. As a result, they could not use their full potential. Perhaps that’s why some of the players looked so unhappy?

Lesson learned: Always focus on your own strengths, and use these strengths to optimize your chances of success. Please let everyone do what they do best. Any other tactic just doesn’t make any sense.

What do you think?

Do you agree with these 4 lessons learned? I wonder which (business) lessons you learned from the Belgium – Italy game. What would you do to increase our chances of success for our next game?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Christophe Van Bael – Marketing Manager Pauwels Consulting

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