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  • Writer's picturePierre Brzustowski

Business versus Sport: Different approaches to success

As the Rugby World Cup kicks off in France this weekend, it's inevitable that we'll see numerous articles blossoming, which will describe the parallels between the lessons learnt from rugby and corporate management. Among other things, they will help justify large sponsorship budgets.

These comparisons are certainly interesting and full of useful lessons, such as the need to share common goals, the importance of cohesion between players, the importance of respecting common rules, fair play, and the tactical ability to seize opportunities.

However, it's essential to recognize that companies respond to logics that are fundamentally different from those of sports, and today I wanted to take the opposite approach and characterize some of the major differences between a company and a sport.

Firstly, a company knows neither time nor geographical boundaries. Unlike a rugby team, which prepares meticulously for months on end, bringing together the country's best players for a competition lasting just a few weeks, a company operates on a continuous, long-term basis. It usually operates on a multitude of fronts simultaneously, bringing together hundreds or even thousands of employees, each contributing in his or her own way to the achievement of the company's objectives.

What's more, a company has to contend with a variety of competitors, often with different rules of the game, or even actively seeking to reinvent those rules to stand out from the crowd. This complexity requires companies not only to invest in their own strengths, but also to demonstrate constant adaptability and agility to remain competitive and innovative, while evolving in a constantly changing environment, exposed to numerous and far-reaching crises, as well as to constantly evolving technological developments, for example.

Anticipation is of course crucial when it comes to imposing one's own strengths as success factors, but just as important is the company's ability to adapt, transform and mobilize its resources in the face of unforeseen situations. It must be able to react quickly and effectively, while maintaining its long-term strategic course.

At the end of the day, while sport can offer valuable lessons in team spirit, discipline, and perseverance, we must recognize that managing a company is a complex, medium-term adventure, requiring much more than a simple transposition of sporting principles. Companies have to evolve in a dynamic, constantly changing environment, while maintaining a long-term vision. They need to be forward-looking, innovative, agile, and resilient to thrive in this era of constant challenges.

Although rugby can provide us with inspiring metaphors for corporate management, I wanted, at the start of the World Cup, to pre-empt the fact that each field responds to its own logic. A company with long-term success can successfully navigate this complexity, while drawing on the lessons of sport to form a cohesive, competitive team.

In any case, let's hope we can show our chauvinism for almost two months and see our French team shine throughout the competition!

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Impact 4 Business is a collective of partners who provide company executives with the ability to multiply their resources. Our team members all have over 25 years' experience and combine a strong background in strategy consulting (McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Kearney, Oliver Wyman...) and operational leadership (CEO, BU Director, Executive Committee members). Our aim is to "Get your teams up and running like an Executive, while structuring the project like a Consultant". Tailored to your needs, our engagements combine consulting, interim management, and mentoring.

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