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Do You Play like a Pro Team, or Like The Amateurs?

Where I live, you can find orange balloons hanging on every corner. It’s this time again – the European football championship.

Customer Success is a team sport. And this championship reminds me of one of my favorite lessons that we can take from football: Tiki-taka.

Football has changed. So has business.

If you want to see how football used to be played 10, 20 years ago, take a look at the lower leagues. I’m not talking about the amateurs – just the second or third league in every given country is enough.

Now, compare this to the first leagues. You’ll see a big difference.

Of course, there are better players. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

In lower leagues, you’ll often see long, high shots from the midfielders or defense. Because these teams do not have the skills to strategically bring the ball forward, they just go for the BIG shots – hoping they might be caught by one of their strikers, and turned into a goal.

Tiki-taka vs. Amateur Ball

The style that has led the most successful teams is very different – they strategically play shorter passes, back and forth, trying to find ways through the opponent’s defense. The Spanish “Tiki-taka” style was the high point of that, bringing a world championship to the Spanish national team, and many other trophies.

Take the European championship as an inspiration:

Do you play Tiki-Taka? Or do you play amateur longball?

Amateur Longball 

This means that our organization relies on very few leaders. They are not embedded into the team, and they are lonely wolfs at best. But they create business results. We don’t need to overly communicate – every now and then, we shoot the ball over, hoping it will result in a goal.

This is a toxic culture, where arrogant salespeople rule, and every other function merely supports their needs, with no long-term thinking.

Tiki-taka Culture

That means constantly playing and communicating, and finding a way forward together. It’s not about the individual performer – everyone can use their strengths to play and deliver.
This is a culture in which Customer Success, Sales, and Marketing are well aligned and valued. 

But what do you need to establish a Tiki-Taka culture?

Here are my own main rules to play like the pro’s:

  1. Process and teamwork over individuals. If a high-performer is toxic for the workplace, they need to be flagged and let go immediately.
  2. To Tiki-Taka together, everyone needs to bring their best game. That means we need to constantly keep learning and create a learning organization.
  3. Short, constant communication beats long, ineffective meetings.
  4. Everyone needs to play defense. Customer Success starts with Marketing and Sales.
  5. The system doesn’t design itself. You need to have a coach that creates and improves the system constantly.