How to make your business as successful as GWS Giants

How to make your business as successful as GWS Giants

In 2012 legendary Australian Rules Football coach Kevin Sheedy took on a new challenge: coaching a new team of young players in its first year in the national competition.

How did Sheedy build a now successful team from the ground up? What did he do to form a bunch of teenagers into what is now a powerhouse football club, the Greater Western Sydney Giants?

The wisdom, systems and processes he implemented would work just as well with your new or existing business as it did with a football team. Let’s have a look at Sheedy’s approach.

Run your high-performance business like a high-performance football team.

Both Sheedy and the team knew they would be beaten by the established teams most weeks for their first couple of seasons in the competition. It was going to be hard to build a winning culture based on the number of games won. So the first thing Sheedy had to do was redefine what “success” was for the players.

Sheedy redefined the measurement interval from 22 games (a full AFL season) to 88 games. That is to say, each quarter of every game was considered “a game” in its own right.

“That was the best way to train and get these boys never to lose their self-esteem and confidence (given) they were only one year out of Year 12,” Sheedy told AAP in 2016.

They might have — predictably — finished that first season on the bottom of the ladder, but rather than focusing on the fact they lost 20 of the 22 games, the team was focused on their “88 game” scoreboard.

“It’s the best 40 losses I’ve ever had,” Sheedy said.

So even though they were bottom of the ladder — even though they lost four games by more than 100 points and another four by more than 80 points — the season was judged a very successful year.

GWS has followed this strategy each year and has slowly improved, winning more quarters, then games, to the point now where they were contenders for the premiership in 2016 — finishing fourth on the ladder. It’s incredible progress in just three years.

How can you use this strategy in your business?

Business might not have easily definable “quarters”, but you can still use Sheedy’s strategy to help get your team to the top of the ladder in just a few years’ time. Here are some of my top tips.

  • Decide what a successful season looks like. Is it an increase in profit? Is it breaking even? Or could it even be recording a small loss? (Your Profit and Loss statement is your season scoreboard).
  • Break your season down into 12 games: One game per month.
  • Decide how many games (months) you need to win for a successful season (and measure against yourself and not your competition).
  • What do you need to do to win those games?
  • Measure and review. Ask yourself each month, how well did we play?
  • Take what you’ve learnt from past months and use it to improve and adjust your expectations in future months.

A good cash flow forecast is the simplest and most effective way to create a game plan for your business. It allows you to break your business season down into 12 games and quickly measure your actual game against how you planned it, by comparing your budget to your actual report.

Review and adjust your plan going forward. It helps you stay focused on incremental success by keeping you focused on your current performance while keeping one eye on the past and one eye on the future.

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