6 important lessons Breweries can learn from the English Football team and the World Cup

We did not win. Maybe it was a step too far. Not sure I could have handled the pressure of sitting there watching the final, willing England on, but we did really well, significantly better than expected!

As I sat there watching, I couldn't help thinking about the changes that must have taken place in the England team to get them to that semi-final.  And I thought about how that could relate to a small craft brewery taking on the might of the big players in the current market place in order to outperform and win

It seemed to me that there were 6 key elements that, if adopted and developed, could assist a small brewery to win against the favourites.

1. Team Culture Is Essential To Performance

According to the business guru Peter Drucker, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast".  That certainly seems to be a lesson that Gareth Southgate and his coaching team have taken to heart.  If you don't invest in building a strong team culture and you are constantly beset by individualistic demands of primadonna players, whether they be midfielders or brewers, then your great plans can be scuppered from the refs starter whistle. 

The best coaches know how to listen and how use what they hear to best effect, for the greater good. Once the tone and line of travel is set, the team then start to set their own agenda in resonance with leadership behaviour.  For example, the squad members decided to switch off their phones when they ate together as they bonded more when they cut off the outside distractions.  What initiatives could your team put in place to help encourage better team spirit and improve communication? Building a winning team culture is generally easier in small businesses so use your size to your advantage.

2. Respect Your Competition

Whoever England played in the World Cup tournament, you always got the impressions that they never took their competition for granted.  To paraphrase something Southgate said in advance of the tournament, "When the press think you are bad, maybe you're not quite so bad.  And when they think you are great, maybe you are not quite that great."

In contrast, many brewers would have you believe that they brew the most fantastic beer going and perhaps don't take enough time to really size up their competition with taste testing etc.  Any great sportsperson knows there is always room for better and that should also be your mantra in the brewhouse.

3. Use Set-Pieces To Build Confidence And Improve Results

Approximately 50% of all the goals scored in the World Cup this year have come from Set Pieces, well-practiced co-ordinated team plays that have been carefully devised in advance of match day.  England has used this approach to improve their goal scoring and it's also an important lesson for all business owners. 

Consider important transactions or processes and work out how to do them better.  Use role-play for example to sharpen up your Sales Team's telephone selling skills.  Who sells best in your team?  What insights can they share with other team members to help improve your game overall?

4. Stretch Your Junior Team

For the Belgian match, the pressure was off as England knew that they had done enough to qualify into the next round.  Rather than keep key players on the pitch, Southgate used the opportunity to give younger, more inexperienced players the chance to perform under the world's gaze.  He wasn't just thinking about this year's World Cup, he was thinking to the future when these younger players could come to the fore in 2022. 

Providing stretch goals or pressured experiences for your younger team members can help them to mature as sales people or brewers.  For example, give a younger brewer a competition to enter, to test his skills against the wider marketplace.  

5. Have Clear Roles

Gareth also keeps reiterating that every team player has a deep understanding of the part they play and what they are specifically responsible for.  This is what allows them to work as a highly functional team. 

It's exactly the same in business. Having clearly defined roles and responsibilities helps people to perform to their best whatever the market or match conditions.  

6. Think Through Problems and Plan

We always thought we had a jinx on winning penalty shootouts. They countered this be breaking down the problem from the walk from halfway to the box, to placing the ball & taking the shot. They practiced it all, they had a plan, the place where they were going to kick the ball was clear in their mind, it was not a last-minute decision, it was choreographed! (They even got Dave Brailsford of Sky cycling involved!)

Plan your business, think ahead to the problems, don’t leave decisions till the last minute, take uncertainty out wherever you can.

Look at your own business then look at the 6 pointers. How could you improve on each point and then go out and win the game with your brewery team?