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9 Things the World Cup can teach us about good governance

The World Cup final is just a few days away. The final is the culmination of hundreds of football matches and there are many lessons good boards can learn from the trials and tribulations of all the teams involved. This blog pulls together some of the key governance messages.

1. Get the best people

Team selection is vital to any world cup campaign. It’s just as important to get the right people in the boardroom. Use good board recruitment practices to make sure you have the best possible people leading your company.

2. Get the right skills mix

It goes without saying that a team of 11 goalkeepers or 11 strikers is not going to last long. You need a mix of people for a team to be successful. In the boardroom, this can be achieved by carrying out regular skills audits to identify any gaps you might have in relation to the strategic priorities of the board, and then using this information in the recruitment process. It has been shown time and time again that boardroom diversity is a factor in organisational success.

3. Get the right mix of experience

A strong team will have a mix of fresh, young players and more experienced team members. Board teams also need to handle the process of bringing on new talent in a managed way so that new board members can benefit from those who know the history of the organisation while the team as a whole benefits from the fresh thinking brought by new board members.

4. Train

Once you get the right mix of good people, you must provide them with training opportunities on an ongoing basis. Imagine a football team which doesn’t train. Training is vital to developing skills and knowledge. It also helps your board develop as a team, by helping people realise each other’s strengths and work on weaknesses.

5. Plan

Every good manager will have a plan. They’ll look at the competition, and formulate a strategy on how best to win based on their strengths and development needs, along with those of the other team. Strategic planning is one of the key tasks for any board, and as the old adage goes – fail to plan, plan to fail.

6. Adapt

Even with all the planning in the world, it will inevitably be necessary to make changes once the game starts. The same is true for the board team. Boards have to constantly change as the environment and strategic priorities change, or risk becoming obsolete.

7. Innovate

For the first time in the competition, goal line technology is being used to determine when a ball has completely crossed the goal line. Vanishing foam is being used to show players where to stand for free kicks. The best boards actively seek out better ways of doing things. “Because we’ve always done it this way” isn’t an acceptable boardroom phrase.

8. Play fair

Poor sportsmanship and not playing fair leads to outrage from the fans, and possible censorship from the governing body. Luis Suarez was punished with banishment from the world cup and a four-month ban for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini. For boards, being caught following unfair practices can result in fines from regulators, damage to reputation and loss of consumer confidence. There is an increasing focus on ethics and a well-governed organisation is a joy to work for, supply to and buy from!

9. Celebrate

Celebration is often overlooked by businesses, but we can learn a lot from those that revel in how well their team has done. Celebrating success provides positive reinforcement for staff, and attracts great publicity for an organisation. No matter who wins in Maracanã Stadium on 13 July, all the participants will feel proud of their accomplishments, and use the feedback from this tournament to plan for Russia in 2018. Best of luck to Germany and Argentina!