In Sports & Business

Playing to Win

What is more important?

1 – Strengthen your capabilities to create a ‘’competitive advantage’’ or
2 – Strengthen your capabilities to create ‘’criteria to win’’?

Do you think this is the same? Or is this something completely different?
Sometimes in sports things get more clear than in business.

Federer versus Nadal

Let’s take world-famous tennis icons like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as an example.

Federer developed an unbelievable set of capabilities during his tennis life.
From the tennis point of view he developed a very effective varied service, great footwork, killing forehand, nasty slice backhand, etc. as a result of years of intensive training.
Federer developed himself significantly from a mental point of view as well.
From an aggressive, too emotional and even racket demolishing personality into a well controlled, taking decisions based on tactics, a gentleman icon for the tennis world.

So, indeed an impressive set of deeply developed capabilities resulting in winning 17 Grand Slam titles which is a world record and he is perceived as the best tennis player ever.

Nadal is the winner

Why does this icon Federer loses most of his matches against Rafael Nadal? Why does he has such a negative head to head score to Nadal? In grand slams 2-9(!) and overall 10-23.

Of course Nadal developed many capabilities as well, but everyone involved in tennis could see that Federer is the person with the most gorgeous tennis style and competences compared to Nadal.
Yes, our friend Nadal shows an enormous fighting spirit and fitness, but Federer has the all time record reaching 25(!) grand slam semi finals, which can only be done with serious mental strength.

Criteria to Win

Could one of the reasons of Nadal’s success be that he and his team have developed the capability to analyze how to win in a better way than Federer and his team?

Is the capability in finding the ‘’criteria to win’’ developed and used a lot in companies in a continuous way?

Do we need both?

Could companies improve their results when putting more emphasize on the analysis how to win instead of developing competences or looking for a so called economical sustainable competitive advantage despite continuous changing environments? Or do we need both?

The McEnroe Innovation

It all started with John McEnroe… See ‘’The McEnroe Innovation’’ at

By Peter Olyslager
November 2014