What the European Super League fiasco tells us about the importance of culture.
Across Europe over the past few days you can’t avoid hearing about the uproar in response to the potential European Super League (ESL) where the elite clubs proposed forming their own league, potentially leaving the current football system in disarray. Within a couple of days, all 6 English clubs withdrew their participation due to the outcry of disappointment from fans, players and managers alike.
This scenario is a classic example of where culture hasn’t been paid attention to and decisions have been made with the sole purpose of increasing economic value for key stakeholders. This doesn’t just happen in sport, we have many examples, in all sectors, where decisions seemed to have been made in isolation, without consultation or consideration of the impact on staff, other stakeholders or the wider community.
Culture is not separate to strategy, structures or processes. Any proposal for strategic change is influenced by and shapes culture. Culture is people’s feelings and responses to the way things are done and therefore the only way to successfully implement new structures, processes or strategy is to work with culture as it evolves through the process; bring people along, listen to their perspective, particularly those who have concerns or challenges.
What we do know is that these situations often lead to increased collective engagement, people are provoked and it forces challenging conversations which ironically, often inform change (just perhaps not the intended changes proposed by the ownership in this case). A lesson of this story is that culture plays such an influential role in decision making, so ignore at your peril!
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