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Innovation based on insights leads to glory

Innovation based on insights leads to gloryThe 5th World Cup in 1992 was by far the biggest world cup till then. Hosted by  Australia & New Zealand, this was a World Cup with many firsts. It was the  first time the World Cup was being played in the Southern Hemisphere. South Africa,  till then pariahs from international cricket due to apartheid, were  participating for the first time. Coloured clothing with players' names on the  back was also a first. The cherry red ball was replaced by white coloured ones,  and instead of a single ball being used in a match, there was going to be one  for each end - ensuring the ball remained fresh & swung wildly.
Australia, the defending  champions, were hot favourites to win the cup. They were in great form, had  arguably the best team on paper, and were playing in home conditions. However,  they lost the inaugural match played against their unfancied co-hosts, New Zealand.As if this was not enough, they lost the very next match to South Africa,  the new entrants in world cricket, by 9 wickets! They managed to salvage some  pride when they finally beat India  by a solitary run in their next outing, only to go down in the very next match  to arch-rivals England.  They lost another one to Pakistan  in the league stage, and could not make it to the semis. Pakistan, of  course, went on win the tournament.
All the teams innovated a lot during  the cup. New Zealand  exploited their slow pitches to the fullest by starting their bowling spells  with Dipak Patel, an off-spinner, even with the new ball. Martin Crowe's  heroics with the bat, starting with his century in the first match against  Australia, supplemented by their opener Mark Greatbach's unheard of run-a-ball  pinch-hitting in almost every match, nearly took New Zealand to the ultimate  glory. England's  Ian Botham also innovated & played the pinch-hitter opening batsman's role,  though with moderate success. Jonty Rhodes of South   Africa, with his electrifying speed & breathtaking  accuracy, immortalized himself with an airborne demolition of the stumps to run  out Inzamam-ul-Haq of Pakistan,  and redefined fielding standards forever.
On the other hand, Australia, which had started as  tournament favourites, were pretty inflexible in their approach. Geoff Marsh, while  a great opening batsman, was taking a lot of time in scoring runs, hurting the  team badly. They were not as athletic on the field, and their bowling also did  not show anything new. The captain, Allan Border, and the coach, Bob Simpson,  were unable to come to terms with the new strategies that the opponents were  adopting. In a cup, which was almost preordained to be theirs from the  beginning, Australia,  despite being the top team & defending champs, lost the plot right from the  start, and bowed out without reaching the semis, with just 4 wins from 8  matches.
Just like cricket, in business, it is  important to not rest on your past laurels. You have to keep innovating to keep  the opposition at bay & emerge a winner. Just like New Zealand, who quickly  analyzed the new rules which permitted just 2 men outside the fielding circle  in the first 15 overs, and found an opportunity to score briskly by hitting  lofted shots to score boundaries, an organization has to identify opportunities  by looking at data, and then plan & work on the same to come up with  winning strategies. Just like Jonty, who realized that Inzamam was slow between  the wickets and ran him out spectacularly, the organization has to be agile  enough to face competition - which depends upon knowing your goals,  opposition's weaknesses, preparing yourself for the same, and then waiting for  the right moment & acting swiftly. Most importantly, the organization has  to always be prepared to innovate & quickly change its strategy to meet any  situation. And that comes from knowledge & insights gathered over a period  of time and logical analysis of the same, to unlock the potential of the  organization and move in the direction of victory.

Editor, CEO Lessons from Cricket

The author is a strategist is a cricket enthusiast, and writes on Cricket. The views expressed here are his own


1 Comment


by Vivek at 25-08-2013 17:36:48

Nice Articles