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  • Writer's pictureEdwin and George

The Management Consultants and the Soccer Game

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

His company was based in Canberra. It made burger buns, selling them across Australia and Asia. The CEO felt good. He led a happy company. All his dreams had come true. Every night, the CEO reflected on how profits were growing. He’d focused on his personal development; attendingconferences and completing online courses. It had all paid off. His life had been transformed sine he managed the local take away.

The CEO was proud of the positive company culture he’d grown. This was down to his belief in staff well-being. He knew he was a kind and thoughtful CEO. He believed that ‘empathy’ and ‘trust’ were words that every leader should learn. He was ‘values driven’ and a true ‘titan in his industry.’

To show how much he loved his staff, the CEO bought a sports club. Staff were delighted and the sports club became a big reason why people liked working at his company; hanging out with friends and enjoying the subsidized food and drink.

The CEO was also proud of his company moto and vision. Addressing staff, he would often say that ‘our motto and vision provide our “lighthouse” in the dog eat dog world of burger buns.’

Some time ago, the CEO had led an offsite and the new motto and vision were born. With top Management Consultants, incredible progress had been made. The CEO was generous in his praise: ‘they definitely earned their bread. Our new motto is vastly better than our old one (‘We know our Onions’) and with our new vision, our business will grow to unknownheights.’

No staff member was  found lacking when asked about the company’s new motto and vision: ‘Often Eaten, but Never Beaten’ and ‘We aim to beef up burger buns as we move into the future of work.’

The CEO knew his company had finally ‘found its ‘why.’ They had set out their stall for others to follow.

The CEO wanted his company to be ‘a leader in ‘modern HR.’ He ordered a staff survey and was delighted with the results. He announced with great pride: ‘our staff are as keen as mustard’ – the only low score being that staff felt ‘micro-managed.

And then, things changed.

To the CEOs horror a Japanese company appeared next door – ‘The Tokyo Burger Bun Company’ - they were bitter competitors.

One night the CEO was in a bar. A senior manager of his hated rival sat next to him. The two men were drunk and things were getting out of hand. Suddenly, the CEO screamed ‘our burger buns are far better quality than yours and if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.’  

The CEO was ashamed. He had let his staff down.

To make amends, the CEO called the senior manager. He apologized and suggested their companies play a soccer game at his sports club to decide who was superior. The winner would be declared ‘best in class.’

The big day arrived. The crowd cheered in anticipation and the double cheeseburgers and fries flowed.

You can imagine the despair the CEO felt at what he saw: His team lost 20 – nil.

Despondent, the CEO reluctantly shook the hand of the senior manager and a rematch was agreed.

The CEO didn’t know what to do – they had to come out winners – but he knew nothing about soccer. He called his managers together. He needed ideas and their bonuses depended on winning the rematch.

Things moved fast. A project team investigated the reasons for the defeat. A Six sigma expert identified where errors had occurred and how they could be reduced. She was statistically certain the rematch could be won (within agreed limits).

A coach, a mentor, a design thinking guru -  the CEO knew nothing was working. He was desperate.

Then, the CEO had a brainwave. He would call the Consultants who had helped in the past.

The Consultants gave a brilliant presentation. They had methodologies and propositions on how to win soccer gamesand even check lists. Whilst they’d never implemented a strategy to win a soccer game, the CEO was impressed that one of the Consultants thought he’d seen Canberra United on TV and that a team from Brazil once won the World Cup. The Consultants were confident and their payment would depend on results.

The Consultants went to work. They set up a project room, developed plans, risk registers,  benefits tracking spreadsheetsand a communications strategy. Lists of stakeholders wereproduced and interviews arranged. They were determined, as a starting point, to find out why the game had been lost.

The CEO grew impatient; deadlines slipped. Then the Consultants found the answer. They  produced a 300 slide PowerPoint: their findings - ‘The Tokyo Burger Bun Company team had consisted of 11 players and 1 manager – whilst, in line with his company culture, the CEOs team had consisted of 1 player and 11 managers.’

The rematch approached. The Consultants were flat out. Training plans, team meetings and management briefings. A reorganization of the team was needed and they were experts.

Results had to improve.

And when the rematch came, the CEO couldn’t believe the improvements he saw. Playing with a new structure of 3 players and 8 managers, his team lost 10-nil.

The CEO was thrilled. His company had never improved anything by 50 per cent in its entire history.

The Consultants were paid a handsome fee based on the results achieved and lived happily ever after.

And the CEO?

On the advice of the Consultants he sold the sports club and put the money into his pension.

Mrs. CEO is happy. They’ve gone up in the world and now run a chain of steak houses in Adelaide.

The moral of the story – ‘If you want it doing right, Get a Consultant.’

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