All the world’s eyes are on the footfall World Cup at the moment. Prior to the tournament there were all sorts of predictions of the best players, the best teams and likely odds of match outcomes. One reason why sport is so great to watch is the unexpected can happen. When the Netherlands beat tournament favourites Spain 5-1, you would not blame the average Australian for fearing the worst – as they were up against the Netherlands in the following match. When Australia only lost 2-1 to them - and Tim Cahill the veteran top scorer scored arguably the goal of the tournament - you would think that Australia had won the finals, based on public euphoria. Despite losing, Australia was proud. England – the world’s first football playing nation, that hosts the top players in the world in their premier league, also consoled themselves that it was a young team with potential. Nobody expected them to win.
In business, it is always stressed that it is the results that matter. Performance is measured by outcomes, not effort. So is conventional wisdom wrong?
The reality is that both Australia and England lost and are out of the world cup. There are no rewards for effort. No TV advertising contracts will be signed with them and the fans will not be happy if they never win anything again, even if they do continue to play well.
The error is not in assuming that results do not matter – the error is in assuming that results always matter, irrespective of when you measure them. The short term focus in today’s world does not allow teams or businesses the time to build behaviours and activities that will end up in good results, in the long run. Lead indicators do matter and luck plays a big part in results than we would like to admit. When a sales person closes a big deal it is easy to identify the things they did right and when they lose it, it is just as easy to identify the list of mistake they made. But no one is as clear or certain prior to deal closure.
If a team continues to do the right things in the right way, in the long run they should see the results. In the meantime, the reality of life is that no matter how proud they feel of their activities and performance, no bonuses can be banked until they achieve the desired results!