All great teams, whether in sports or in business, have the following three common attributes:

  • Team members who know their individual roles and responsibilities and how they each contribute to the team’s purpose and objectives.
  • Carefully choreographed, rehearsed and optimized drills and strategies (or processes) to win in the pitch, the market or wherever the competition is taking place.
  • Operating practices and routines, such as team huddles, to coordinate plays, bring about new ideas stimulating continuous improvement and stay focused on the factors that increase the chances of a winning performance.

My role at the adidas Group is to help deliver three game-changing tactics, each of which is specifically designed to tackle one of the three attributes mentioned above. We call it the Continuous Improvement Initiative so read on to find out more!

tactic board turning teams from good to great
Need to bring your team’s game plan to the next level? These simple tactics can really make a big difference. ©Kameleon007/GettyImages

1. Role chartering

Role chartering, the first tactic, is about helping team members learn their positions in the team. Who’s the goalie? Who’s a forward? Who’s on defense? This tactic creates alignment amongst team members and helps ensure they are focused on the right things at the right times. In my team’s case, we undergo role chartering at least once per year and each time we learn new things about ourselves and each other that make us an even more cohesive team.

2. Value Stream Mapping

The second tactic is Value Stream Mapping. This tactic is all about making and refining your game plan. In order to do this, teams have to be very clear about the plays that make up their game plan and they have to practice them again and again to make them as effective and efficient as possible. In my team, we have a precise list of processes which we own and execute as a team and which determine whether or not we are successful in fulfilling the team’s purpose.

3. Daily Routines

The third tactic is Daily Routines, which helps to bring everything together. Imagine a team where every team member is clear about his or her roles and responsibilities and where all the plays which make up the team’s game plan are lean, effective and thoroughly rehearsed. The missing piece is what happens when the team captain huddles with his teammates mid-game or when the coach takes over during a time-out. This is the time when clear and transparent communication is critical so the necessary adjustments can be made and the team can ensure victory. In my office, we have fully adopted Daily Routines and, in doing so, we’ve made our meeting time shorter, as well as more focused and effective. This has allowed us to commit more time to fulfilling the team’s purpose… and win together.

What is your experience of building teams? Is everyone in your team crystal clear about the role they play in the team and how that relates to the roles other team members play?

I’d love to hear your stories of changing from good to great teams.


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by Stefan Hötzinger 20.02.2017
Nice article - thanks for sharing your thoughts
What I always wonder a little bit, when comparing sports with business
In sports there is a huge team/staff dealing with teamwork / tactics etc..
after every match (in certain sports also during the game) there is a detailed (and professional) analysis of the tactics / competitor analysis (video, satellite, etc.)
teams are forced by the trainer(s) to train all the "standard"-situations, different positions, clever new tactics and so on

in business - very often it happens after getting a job/contract - team-members are thrown together and top management is expecting "peak-performance"
even when in the team there are the "best" people involved (technical, sales, project management) - things go wrong (for many reasons)
no training, no feedback, no time to become a real team, no tactical analysis, etc..
(I know it's provocative - there a companies where it works very well - on the other hand .....)

why is it so obvious for "anybody" that a sports team has to learn, team up, train tactics, etc.. while in business the same people forget about it?

would be nice to hear your ideas
best regards
by Alvaro Stefan Hötzinger 20.02.2017
Nice comment Stefan,

My answer to your final question is that unlike in sports, in business we are always in a competitive match. That is, teams spend 90% of their time training and team building just so they can achieve a peak performance during the 10% of the time when they're actually in a match. In business we are in the match 100% of the time.

The question then becomes, how can we optimize a business team's productivity? Old-school leaders would argue that this is done by pushing their teams to deliver business results 100% of the time. More progressive leaders understand that at the end of the day you can "cut more trees" if you take a few minutes each day to "sharpen the saw". These are the types of leaders that will invest some time into continuous improvement, team building and people development. These types of leaders are not a dime a dozen... but they do exist. There are also organizational cultures that embrace these principles, although they're also not easy to find.

Good luck to you in finding the right type of organizational culture and the right type of leader. I hope I've answered your question.

Best regards,