What can you learn from Nadal?

One of the biggest challenges all the organizations are facing nowadays is the adoption of new businesses models and to continuously improve their status quo. Sometimes these continuous modifications fall into the emptiness of implementing changes on an organizational level without certain values, principles or believes.

An extraordinary way to look at it and to analyze it, is to refine the distinction between Intensity and Consistency. Both are good, especially when they are needed, however, your change movement would be primarily driven by one of those. This happens all the time. You could play a match either with intensity or with consistency. There are plenty of examples out there. I will try to say now why Consistency should be the one to choose.

One example may be Rafael Nadal. Even though the 2019 US Open Champion plays with a lot of Intensity the key points, all his game is based on Consistency. We could even say his game is Consistency drive, over all. You just have to watch one of his matches to understand this. The way he thinks the next play, the way he prepares himself before serving or returning, the way he looks for uncomfortable shoots for his opponents, even the way he drinks water and puts the bottle back down, all is driven by consistency. There is no doubt Nadal uses Intensity too, but when things get tricky (eg: last set of the 2019 US Open final) and even physical strength is on the edge, consistency is what it takes to make the difference.

When it comes to organizational changes within a company, Change Agents must decide the strategy and the steps to follow in the long run but also the little details that will help the company to get there. Consistency is key. That is what agile has taught us all this time: no matter what, you try your best to deliver some value out there in each iteration. Rephrasing the idea: we will adapt continuously to change. That is what Consistency means.

If we look at it from an Agile Transformation angle, a lot of companies have Intensity as a solution in their DNA. When it comes to problems or big changes, they go for it without any doubt but expecting to have a perfect solution after a reasonable dedication to that challenge. It is like saying: “This problem is now solved. Next…!”

We all know it doesn’t work that way. It takes time to change, and it takes time to change a culture within an organization. Nobody knows and understands all the circumstances when the transformation starts. Besides, those circumstances are continuously changing, they are dynamic. Consistency is key: inspect and adapt, that is what an Agile framework as Scrum tells us.

At the end, our goal, our organization change, may be represented by crossing a river from point A to point B. Point B is continuously moving. You may try to reach point B in many ways, but for the sake of this article let’s say you can reach it either using Intensity or Consistency. Using Intensity means you put yourself inside a cannon and you try to reach B throwing yourself across the river. Most likely you won’t get to point B, plus you’d probably get wet or even hurt. You can try again with the cannon, and you’d probably miss again, but let’s supposed you reach point B. Well, maybe that’s not point B anymore, because we said those goals are dynamic. Therefore, you may find yourself in B’, and that is not your goal now.

However, if you get on a boat and start sailing from point A across the river, you will spend more time to get to the other side, you will have to continuously change the direction of your boat because of the river and the wind, but eventually you will get there, even if point B is continuously moving, you will see that and you will change your direction until you finally reach your goal.

Now don’t think about crossing a river. Think about adapting Agile Values, or implementing certain Methodologies with your team, or feeding your Organization with Agile knowledge. How do you want to do that? Do you just want to hire people with some empty certifications? Do you just want to use a specific software tool? Do you just want to create an empty PPT with cool words and pictures that wastes everyone’s time? Do you just want to arrange workshop discussions to keep working the same way with different names? Or, do you really want to create a team culture at your company? Do you really want to go with Agile because of certain values and believes? Are you capable of trusting people that empower your teams? Can you rely on others to go together on this continuous journey?

Imagine yourself in the last set of the US Open final, after a long fight. What would you do?

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