Lessons from the Wordcup – Talent Development

The road to winning the world cup in Brazil for te german soccer team started in June 2000. At that time Germany ended dead last in their group of the European Championship. 14 Years later Germany has the best soccer team in the world, and built the “world’s most successful soccer factory”. The secret to success: Talent Development.

Germany started a very comprehensive youth development program, requiring any club to hire full-time youth coaches. They built appropriate training grounds, established medial departments and initiated co-operations with schools. The German FA started a US$13 million per yar youth initiative, and now operates 366 youth centers in the country, which serves 25,000 kids.The program paid off in 2014 with a very talented and capable football team winning the world cup. The majority of the players in the world cup team are 25-years old or younger.

Mario Goetze, who scored the winning goal, is 22.  Thomas Mueller is 24, Neuer is 28, and one of the “older” players in the team (next to Miroslav Klose, the 36-year old striker, who had the most goals in world cup hstory).  So chances are, many of those players will still be around for the next worldcup. And with the german soccer factory in place, many more talented players are starting to emerge, creating a continuous stream of talent to secure Germany’s top spot in world soccer.

How do you nurture talent in your company? Do you have the equivalent of a “Youth Development Program” to ensure a continuous supply of talented people into your organization? Do you reach out to universities and schools to find potential in early stages, which you then develop or do you rely on external sources to find the people required to help you run and grow your business? While growing and fostering talent from within the organization can take years, the benefits are obvious. Talent from within requires no adaption to your company culture, you have ample time to assess their strengths and weaknesses over time and place them in the positions where they can really shine. Or replace them in early stages with other talented people, if they just cannot perform as expected.

All successful large companies (be it Google, Microsoft, SAP, or DaimlerChrysler or similar) have a very well-thought through internship program, which allows them to grab talent straight from university and mold such talent to become effective contributors and future leaders of the organization.

germanyweb16s-4-webYou may want to consider implementing your own talent development program to secure your internal supply of future company leaders, instead of merely relying on the outside world (potentially mainly people leaving your competitors) to fill important positions in your organisation. To create you own world-class winning team, start early and foster talent.

Oh, and by the way: Thomas Muller (24) has so far scored 10 goals in world-cups. By the time he is 36 (like Klose), he could have three more world cups under his belt, and easily beating Klose’s record. The german soccer team is just getting started…


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