OBE strategists, look to Fifa

The failure of large-scale policy such as that intended to fix systemic problems in the education system leads you to wonder how something people thought would provide a cure could turn out to be so appallingly destructive.

quote It is necessary to have broad-based consensus quote

It’s important to analyse why such policies go so wrong, in the same way it’s important to consider why the Fifa World Cup went so well. If we understand the source of failure and success, we can avoid making mistakes in the future and reproduce and maximise what we did well.

If you look at the Fifa World Cup, the first thing to recognise is the fact that the needs and interests of every stakeholder were carefully considered. People weren’t lumped into a single, large category; there was no single policy and approach directed at an amorphous, nondescript body of people. It was the careful management of diverse needs and requirements that made the entire experience appear seamless.

Prior to the tournament, the country’s capacity to host such an event was analysed. Those findings, combined with the knowledge of the requirements of all stakeholders, allowed the necessary additional infrastructure to be put in place to support the event. And, the entire nation was drawn into the excitement and camaraderie and took personal responsibility for hosting the event.

South Africans, in spite of their self-deprecation, are known internationally for their warmth and friendliness, and they took to the challenge with enthusiasm. South Africans were inspired to behave like proud hosts through ubiquitous and meaningful communication from the organisers from preparations stage onwards.

It seems Fifa’s organisers knew something many other organisations don’t. No policy or strategy can work without first conducting an in-depth analysis of the prevailing conditions and culture in which it is to be applied. Gaps in the structure or process need to be filled. The readiness and capability of the people charged with executing the policy and the capacity of the people to whom it is aimed are equally relevant.

Lastly, it is necessary to have broad-based consensus in place so that resources are pooled and diversion into power play is minimised. In that way, the maximum possible effort can be directed towards the achievement of a common purpose.

Cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all ideas work well only to sell things or as political rhetoric. Rigour, integrity and hard work are what you need to turn an idea into a truly constructive solution.

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