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Innovation based on insights leads to glory

Innovation based on insights leads to glory

The 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 00:32:52