Tongue in cheek maybe since virtually no-one will agree with me.
There’s a business simulation game that’s popular when teaching graduate business students. The class is divided into teams, and each team manages their resources in order to maximize success. Every team starts out with the same products, cash in hand, factories, and so on. The winning team, therefore, succeeds on its own merits and decisions.
Without meaning to give away secrets to any aspiring business student here :), the biggest factor in success is having a strategy, sticking to it, and not getting distracted. In particular, teams must be decisive by immediately selling factories making a product inconsistent with their strategy, even if that product is profitable. The temptation, of course, is to try to succeed with everything, but that rarely works. You have to decide upfront and then ignore all the distractions and temptations. How many real companies have struggled because they won a big contract that, in truth, they should have avoided?
This goes against the grain. Won’t a big win breed success? Not if it distracts from the main goal. Resources get tied up on the wrong thing, and the team loses sight of its real goal. The key to any strategy is not so much what you will do but what you won’t do. Ask any experienced CEO.
Our real goal is to participate in the Champions League every year, which means becoming once again a top four club. It helps that the real money comes from a top four finish, the added TV money that comes from it, and the new marketing cash awarded to the big clubs. The Carabao Cup gains us nothing (anyone who believes the Europa is worth it, let me point you to Roberto’s second season). The prize money is pitiful. Reaching the final rounds would cause us to drop points in the league, the financial cost of which would far outweigh any prize money from the cup.
Again, the key to success is strategy, deciding what NOT to do, and sticking to it. If our strategy is to become a Champions League regular, then forget about all else.
(Other top teams know this, which is why Bradford, Burton, and the rest make it to the semis or even the final.)
Apologies for harping on about this, but it’s about time we started wearing big boy pants.