The single scientist working alone who makes a world-changing discovery, the doctor who performs life saving surgery, the programmer who built a trillion dollar company. We love stories about geniuses who have performed feats nobody else could through God-given ability.
I don’t think anybody who has watched Messi play football would deny that exceptional natural talent exists. I also don’t think anyone who has worked in education would deny there are people who can grasp concepts more quickly than others.
But almost every academy in the country has “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” emblazoned on the walls. We also know that your smart phone didn’t come out of a single person’s imagination as a fully formed product, it is the result of thousands of individual discoveries made over decades of work.
Somebody eventually put it all together, but they were put in the position to do so by good process.
Professional football is an industry that thrives on the idea of the brilliant individual. The legendary manager, the star centre forward, the collective memories of that save the goalie made in a 1973 FA cup 3rd round replay.
Geniuses do exist in sport and we should always have hope we get to watch them play for, or manage, our clubs.
The danger comes when clubs start to rely on genius.
This is the Bonnie Tyler approach to club management, Holding out for a Hero, be they a streetwise Hercules, or a head coach who will win promotion through the sheer will of their personality.
Instead of clubs looking helplessly on, dangling their long golden hair from the tower for a prince upon a noble steed to come and rescue them they need something that allows good, consistent progress.
This doesn’t mean we don’t want geniuses or heroes, it is just that happily-ever-afters are vanishingly rare. Even if the prince rescues you there will be another Cinderella story that will attract them away (Cinderella is terrible at football, she always runs away from the ball).
You therefore need to be in a position where you function really well without geniuses.
In our view the best way to do this is to follow a simple framework for building your club.
Work out where you want to be, plan to get there by designing and aligning the processes.
Then if you are lucky enough to have a genius in the building you can make the most of them.