The Danger Of A Single Player: What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Brazil
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When Neymar fell to the ground grasping his back in the 82nd minute of the Brazil versus Colombian world cup quarter-final, the entire nation of Brazil as well as several other millions in other parts of the globe held their collective breath!
This was not a typical fall…it looked more serious. A fortuitous or intentional (only Colombian defender Juan Camilo Zuniga will know) knee to the back.
In the words of Brazilian left back Marcelo, who was the first on the scene “I can’t feel my legs” were the first words uttered by Neymar. Marcelo instantly feared the worse “paralysis” and fervently beckoned for medical help.
But on July 8th, as the Brazilians faced the Germans at Belo Horizonte, it was Marcelo ironically who seemed like the one who could not feel his legs … as the Germans slotted 7 goals past a paralyzed static Brazilian defense. Breaking the hearts of Brazilians and breaking several other records in the process including Most goals scored in a world cup semi-final, worst loss by a host team in world cup history, Fastest to score four goals (Germany scored 4 goals in six minutes, let that digest!) and let’s not forget twitter…Most discussed sports game ever with 35.6 million tweets!
But what was interesting about this shellacking was that this was Brazil we were talking about. 5 time world cup champions…the country of the great Pele, the great Ronaldo, the great Rivaldo, the great Ronaldinho…
This was not a Costa Rica type team or maybe a Cameroonian team playing in an unfamiliar climate. This was Brazil playing at home in front of their raucous fans being outplayed by the same German team that struggled to get past Algeria and Ghana just a few days ago. It was not like there was a biased referee or that the Brazilian team was playing with 10 men or that Germany got some undeserved/controversial penalty decision.
None of that! It was just a straight up inexcusable beating that shocked many across the globe. Except for some … the soccer pundits. The pundits who saw Brazil scrape past Croatia thanks to a shady decision, struggle to break down Mexico and managing to edge out Chile on the lottery of penalty kicks. To them they say a weakened Brazil side, but their observation were drowned out by the screams of many but more salient by the skills of a certain player.
Neymar who scored, who orchestrated, who inspired but more importantly who covered up for the deficiencies of the Brazilian squad. Until Juan Camilo Zuniga ended his world cup and Brazil’s. And in the space of 1 minute Brazil went from world beaters to local amateur league contestants.
But this has been the story of the 2014 world cup. The story of the single player…the special one.
Without Suarez, Uruguay can’t score and can’t win. But once he is in the line-up Uruguay look deadly…everyone from the midfield to the defense looks solid. Without Messi Argentina are just well Argentina.
That’s the problem with the single player. The problem is that they cover up for the deficiencies of their team, cover up for other players, cover up for poor management and hide deficiencies in the organization. The single player makes the team look great even when in fact the team is shitty.
Soccer pundits knew that Brazil had an average team, but with Neymar scoring all that noise was drowned out. Plus the history and the aura of Brazil ensured it remained quiet. Until Neymar went down, until Suarez dug into Chillieni…until reality hit!
Because everything is great with the single superstar player…until they suddenly leave like Steve Jobs. And then the organization for the first time is forced to face the reality of its inefficiencies.
When Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985 their stocks dropped, their market share eroded and their once solid product offering started confusing their customers. It was just like the Brazil without Neymar. Apple was all over the place and tethering on the brink of bankruptcy when they made a call to Steve Jobs in 1997 and returned him to the helm of Apple affairs….the rest as we know is i-history.
But not everyone is given the opportunity to get a replacement super star back like Apple. Sometimes they never comeback. The key however is to mitigate the effect of their departure by recognizing their presence. By doing so you are able to properly determine where your organization areas of deficiencies lie.
For Brazil, Neymar covered up their poor defense by deviating attention away with his offensive presence…a presence that allowed the defense play sloppy without being exposed by the opposing team which was too pre-occupied with containing Neymar. For Uruguay Luis Suarez covered up the fact that Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan were strikers not in form.
The truth is that a lot of our organizations are set up like the Brazilian and Uruguayan team. An average disjointed system that could collapse any minute but does not because of that superstar who goes above and beyond. The one that has to be called upon even on their vacation (that’s if they are even allowed to take any), the one that makes everyone look good great by picking up the organizational slack and not complaining, the special one. The single player. The one who tricks us into believing a team is great when in fact they are not.
Beware of the single player.
Written & Drawn By Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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