If I could pick an all-star, all-time team of business gurus for the soccer World Cup…by Francis Gouillart

C. K. Prahalad would be my captain. He’d be my midfield playmaker, like Bastian Schweinsteiger of Germany. He would define the strategic intent and the core competences of the team. His co-creation skills would make all other players around him look smarter. He would attract the world’s attention to the great soccer played at “the bottom of the pyramid,” for example in Ghana or Uruguay. Like Schweinsteiger, C. K. would have reinvented himself several times throughout his soccer career, constantly amplifying weak signals.

In goal, I’d put Phil Kotler, and he’d play like Gianluigi Buffon of Italy. Kotler would not have the youngest legs on the pitch, but he’d still be sharp and none of the whippersnappers on the other team could get a lot past him. In addition to goaltending, he’d also manage the team brand, redesign the team jersey and improve the customer relationship process of the team, particularly when the Italian team has to explain back in Milan why their ultra-defensive boring game has failed to produce any goal in the last twenty years. He’d also be masterful at explaining how marketing has opened up to co-creation since his pioneering conceptualization of the 4Ps of Marketing in the late 19th century.

Robert Kaplan and David Norton would be my two center backs, like Gerard Piqué and Carles Puyol of Spain. This would help lower the goals-against metric on the team’s Balanced Scorecard. Like Piqué, Kaplan would be precise and efficient, making opponents work so hard in each game that their activity base would end up costing them in the end. Norton would play more like Puyol, with less hair and more glasses, keeping the team’s work force strategy-focused at all time. The challenge would be to keep both of them on the team in spite of the fact that they command an execution premium.

Mike Hammer would play right back, like Maicon of Brazil. Like the force of nature that he was, Hammer would have reengineered his processes all the time, basically oblivious to the strategic concept of defense and offense and simply running all over the field getting things done. And yes, occasionally, he would be left stranded in strategic no-man’s-land, but when you’re that good, does anybody really care?

Henry Chesbrough would play left back, like Philip Lahm of Germany. He’d start with the basics of R&D defense, then start running up and down his lane, poking holes into the traditional funnel-shaped defensive process, and opening up new pathways for outside-in and inside-out innovation. Like Lahm, he’d also be a gentleman on the field.

Jack Welch would be the other defensive, in-your-face midfielder, like Javier Mascherano of Argentina. He’d teach his teammates about leadership and show each of them how to win, continuously praising the top 20% of performers on his team and counseling out the bottom 10% on the opposing team through the intensity of his studs-first sliding tackles. His Six Sigma focus would allow him to root out performance variation, trying to make the Argentineans look as much as possible like a German team in the hope that they will one day manage to beat them.

Gary Hamel would be the attacking midfielder, and he’d weave and bob like Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands. Both are short, frantic and creative. Hamel would challenge the team’s orthodoxies and start a management revolution leading to soccer 2.0. He’d reorganize the human beings on the team into a soccer lab. He’d speak so fast the opponent would end up tackling imaginary balls.

I’d put Chan Kim at right wing and Renée Mauborgne at left wing. Kim would play like Lionel Messi of Argentina, and Mauborgne like Diego Forlan of Uruguay. This way, we’d have an all-blue-ocean-strategy attack – Argentina and Uruguay have the right jerseys for that – and they’d clobber the opposing red-ocean teams which are hopelessly stuck in the old Porter paradigm of soccer. Kim would nail the opponents on a strategy canvas, while Mauborgne would weave a six paths framework around them.

The lone striker would be my friend and co-author Venkat Ramaswamy, and he’d play like Asamoah Gyan of Ghana. He’d be the future of the team, relentlessly pushing the opponent’s defense and confusing the heck out of them through his unbounded ability to co-create new moves. The confusion would occasionally extend to his slower partners, who’d sometimes beg for a soccer best-practice before inventing the next one. His interaction with opponents would produce a “win more-win more” experience for his teammates and a lower cost for the owners of the team, since he’d get the entire stadium to move onto the pitch with him and play for nothing.


About Francis Gouillart

Francis Gouillart is a co-founder and president of the Experience Co-Creation Partnership (ECC Partnership), a consulting firm built to implement co-creative management processes and organizational capabilities with corporate clients around the world. He also teaches in the Executive Education program at the Ross Business School at the University of Michigan.

Mr. Gouillart is co-author (with James Kelly) of the book “Transforming the Organization,” published by McGraw-Hill, which reached the top of Business Week’s best-seller list in 1995. He is also co-author (with Frederick Sturdivant) of the article “Spend a Day in the Life of Your Customers,” published by Harvard Business Review (January-February 1994). He also authored the popular “Stratégie pour une Entreprise Compétitive,” Editions Economica, Paris, which was named ‘Best Strategy Book of the Year’ by the French Association of Strategic Planners (AFPLANE) in 1989.

He is considered a leading authority on the topic of strategy, innovation, transformation, and capabilities-building and is a recognized speaker, professor and advisor on Experience Co-Creation, Blue Ocean Strategy, and Organization Transformation.

Mr. Gouillart and Venkat Ramaswamy are current working on their latest book, “The Alchemy of Co-Creation,” which will be published in fall 2010 by Simon & Schuster’s Free Press.

Mr. Gouillart received his MBA from the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business, and currently resides in Concord, Massachusetts.

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