I have always been interested in better-ness. Improvements that make things better than they are and what does this betterness mean? Statistically, Brazil dominated Germany in the recent semi final, they had more possession and they completed more passes yet they lost 7 – 1. Back in 2001 England beat Germany 5-1 and Germany decided to overhaul their entire footballing system and are the dominant force in the world game.
The statistic on which they centred their change programme and one that is starting to be used in other improvement programmes is time on the ball or the completion rate. When England beat Germany, Germany spent on average around 3.4 seconds on the ball (the time each player had control of the ball). When Germany beat Brazil they spent less than a second.
When we recognise change is needed we must focus on one key benchmark at a time and build a programme of improvements around it. Defining that benchmark is where the real skill lies. It is the single most important thing that is core to all decision making.
By reducing their time on the ball the German FA had created a core that affected everything else. Players needed greater skill, they needed to operate in more confined spaces, they had to think faster and read the game better, they had to be fitter and show more fortitude and mental resilience.
The alchemy and dark art of any consultant is to identify that key change champion. The one thing that will define all other changes. The one thing that will lead to success. They didn’t ask the players, they didn’t ask the manager, they asked consultant analysts to impartially study where wrongness starts and to replace it with a programme of betterness.