Sunday, June 17, 2007

Campeones ! A post for soccer /talent fans

The Real Madrid just won another national title and fans went on to a huge party at Cibeles.

This is in fact a great talent management case.

A few years ago, a spanish businessman, Florentino Perez transformed the club financials and marketing, by powering and expanding the brand and using the real estate assets of the club. It has become a well known case among sports business cases

He also decided the best players in the world should play at Real Madrid (Zidane, Beckham, Ronaldo, ...). And he actually hired them.

After a huge initial success, the club lost its nerve. No titles, no game, four years on.

And this year, instead of hiring huge stars, the club brought in "solid citizens", players that held their ground and did their job. The club also brought in an Italian trainer who had already once rescued the club. And fired Ronaldo.

And at year end, without playing "jogo bonito" or delighting the fans, the club is champion. This happened :
- Stars were treated as other players ; and delivered;
- Old values (fighting spirit) was brought back by the trainer (who actually threatened to fire David Beckham, thus igniting the players spirit);
- Game was managed by the technical team - no presidential wishes were ever considered.

What could this tell us about Talent Management ?
- Talent Management serves a business culture. In this case, a Spanish club who valued fighting spirit above all. If you forget the objective of your Talent Management processes, no matter how big the stars you bring in, you won't reach your objectives; and your clients (the fans) won't forgive you;
- Stars are made, more rarely bought. Read these articles from HBS. What I mean is : if you treat stars differently because they are stars, you are not managing talent for your business, you are managing stars. And developing a star's human capital is not equivalent to developing an organization collective intelligence; the stars get the benefit in the end, not the organization. A win-win situation should always be preferred

There are other interesting point to make about soccer and sports in general (for instance, how to value human capital); I'll be writing about those soon.

1 comment:

  1. Luis

    Great post - and so true. The inverse, unfortunately, is true of the English team: on paper a world beater, but on the pitch lacking team spirit and enough fire.

    Keep blogging on Talent Management!