How To Rule The World

Around 5pm EST this coming Sunday, Germany will win the World Cup. 

It will happen because six years ago, having been unceremoniously dumped out of the European Championships - during which the team failed to win a single game - the German football authorities decided to rebuild.

The did not undertake this mission lightly. They didn’t embark on a conversation-heavy, action-light series of meetings and investigations. 

They hired a man and asked him for a plan.

Fortunately for them, and for the rest of us waiting for our respective countries to demonstrate there is a reason beyond passport issuance to believe that next time will be our time, they hired a man capable of giving them a plan.

They hired a man called Jurgen Klinsmann. 

Klinsmann had won the World Cup with Germany. He had played at the highest domestic levels of German, Italian, French and English football. He had moved to California, thereby removing himself from the day-to-day petty politics of European football and ensuring he retained objectivity.

Klinsmann did three things that are a model for anyone re-building a business.

One. He solicited opinions. From players and managers alike. Everyone who would have some influence over how his German players would play. Then he empowered them to make a contribution.

Two. He defined the characteristics of how his Germany would play. Characteristics that were based on well-established German traits. Being dynamic. Aggressive. And decisive. Traits that Klinsmann readily admits were the cause of two World Wars. But which he believed could be better Purposed on the football pitch.

Three. He built an organization capable of surviving his departure, in the knowledge that the emotional effort required to build the foundations would quickly create friction between him and the German Board.

It was not an easy transition. Early results were poor. And he almost lost his job after 18 months. Only a decisive win over the U.S. in 2006 keeping him in place for the World Cup that year.

His team came third. And was celebrated throughout Germany. Then Kilinsmann resigned and handed over the model to his young assistant, Joachim Loew.

Two years later, Germany were runners up in the European Championship.

This afternoon, they play in their second consecutive World Cup semi final. 

It is a case study in organizational re-structuring.

Vision. Execution. Evolution.

And built, not around an irreplaceable individual or a single skill. 

But around a Purpose and a set of timeless characteristics.

Klinsmann’s work has changed the face of world football. Created a template that others will follow. And will bring hundreds of millions of Euros worth of value to the German economy.

As an Englishman, praising German anything is hard.

But between now and Sunday evening I'll be doing something for the first time in my life.

Hoping for a German victory. 

Change indeed.