Can buyers learn from England’s mistakes?

Posted on June 23rd, 2014 by

Photograph of England football team

As England’s players prepare to board the plane back home following their early exit from the World Cup, the usual questions of ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who was to blame’ are already being asked. But instead, perhaps we should be asking do we just expect too much too soon?

After all, England made it to the last 32 of the World Cup – an achievement in itself. With the introduction of new tactics, players and overall strategy, compounded by a very tough Group D, shouldn’t we be happy with the young players that are emerging and our future prospects?

During the last eleven years (the same length of time that Sir Alf Ramsey, who led England to world cup success in 1966, managed the English side), England have had five different managers. In the ten years prior to that, 6 different managers held the job.

Table of England Managers and their performance
Table of England Managers and their performance


This isn’t just a phenomenon at the national level – something beautifully illustrated by David Moyes’ recent departure from Manchester United. His predecessor, Sir Alex Ferguson reigned for an impressive 26 years winning 38 trophies. But he wasn’t an overnight success. It took three years for his team to claim their first trophy, the FA Cup – and six years until they won the Premier League. Many successes then followed, but, somebody, somewhere, must have realised the positive changes being made and recognised that there was a need to be patient. Not so for David Moyes, who was hounded from the job after a string of poor results just ten months into the role.

Before the last game of the season kicked-off, the average managerial tenure for the Premier League was at 1517 days. With the departures of Ferguson, Moyes, Pulis and Martinez from their positions, including the two promoted managers of Cardiff City and Hull, and disregarding Wenger’s time at Arsenal (which has become an outlier at this point), the average tenure of a Premier League manager is now just 415 days.

Impatience – and the high expectation it brings – is depriving our football dressing rooms of one element they desperately need: stability.

Stability is key as it brings things like vision, trust, understanding, resetting, and refinement – all essential elements of developing long-term sustainable relationships.

In our own professional lives, how often have we been faced with resistance to new incoming suppliers? Maverick behaviour and outright rejection of new terms, or a grudging acceptance, which manifests in a wide range of complicated hurdles and traps – ultimately leaving the new supplier cornered and unable to perform as there is now a legacy of failure and active scepticism. The board, or the press, seeking blood, now question the robustness of the process, challenging procurement and looking for change yet again – instead of getting to the root cause of the problem to find out why things are not working.

It does seem that (for once) common sense has prevailed, with Roy Hodgson maintaining his position. This will give time for the root cause analysis – and hopefully better things to come.

Perhaps, with our key suppliers, rather than jumping to conclusions we need to do more to find out what is at the heart of the problems we are experiencing. Or we just need to be patient and accept that change takes time!