It’s great to see England in their first soccer World Cup Semifinal in over 28 years, but it’s even greater to watch them take a FAST Approach. FAST is a pragmatic, practical and proven approach that allows you and your teams to increase both their effectiveness, and their efficiency which is a powerful combination and critical to you achieving your best results.
So how are England using the FAST approach? Well FAST is about having the right Focus, Accountability, Simplicity, and Transparency in order to maximize your effectiveness and efficiency.
England are clearly Focused, they know what success looks like for them. It’s not about playing the most attractive football, it’s about winning games, it’s about being pragmatic and doing what is necessary to progress to the next level. It’s about playing in a way that allows their collective talents to achieve maximum output.
Teams can be more accountable when they have clear roles and responsibilities assigned to them when they know what is expected of them. This England team has a clearly defined style, a crystal clear approach one in which every player knows what his job is, what the expectations are. This allows players to take ownership, to become more committed and it gives them the freedom to express themselves within that style and structure.
Complexity Kills execution, it makes things more difficult for players, which can then undermine their confidence, and then naturally their performance. Gareth Southgate the England manager has shown that he understands the importance of keeping things simple, and nothing showed this more than when he fielded a weakened team against Belgium. Not only was this a game that he did not need to win, and therefore could rest some players and give others an opportunity. But by not winning the game it gave England a much easier root to the final one in which there was not a single top 10 team. Whereas Belgium by winning will have to play Brazil and France to reach the world cup final.
Many argued that you don’t want to lose momentum, that by losing a game it sends the wrong signal, but for Southgate, he knew that this would provide the simpler path to the final and so that’s the path he chose.
Complexity is often a choice, and those who choose it often find themselves facing challenges that can lead to failure.
Transparency is about understanding what you need to do in order to be successful to know the challenges and pitfalls that you will face and be prepared to deal with them. Southgate showed that he had learned from the mistakes of previous England managers, know that only those who were in peak condition would be able to contribute to the required levels, and this is why he left several players such as Jack Ramsey and Adam Lallana at home and didn’t include them in his squad. Too often in the past players who were not 100% were taken to world cups and unsurprisingly failed to deliver what was needed in order to be successful.
England need to win two more games to lift the World Cup, and they might not be favourites to do so, but they have already exceeded the expectations of many, including the majority of England fans who were thought that the team would probably go out in the quarterfinals.
I don’t know whether England will go on to win the World Cup but by taking a FAST Approach they have put themselves in the best position to do so since 1990.