By Omagbitse Barrow FCA
As the African Nations Cup finals commences this January, and Nigeria is absent for the second time in a row, it is a good time to reflect on our football and as we always say go back to the “drawing board”. This time, I suggest that instead of going back to the drawing board, we should be going back to the Scorecard. While we would have all loved to see our darling Super Eagles in the Nations Cup, I am at least gratified that what has been a very busy and hectic January at my School and Office, can remain so, without the distractions of those pulsating matches of the Super Eagles that I will not be watching.
So, what is this Score Card of Nigerian football that I am recommending? It comes from the world of the Balanced Score Card (BSC) – the strategy tool developed by Kaplan and Norton from Harvard Business School and used by countries and institutions (public and private) to develop strategy, implement strategy, manage performance and create change. While the Federal Government of Nigeria may not have wholly adopted the BSC as its tool for strategy development and implementation, the use of some of the balance score card language in the Federal Budget (references to thematic areas by President Buhari) and the extensive references to the BSC in the literature developed by the Bureau of Public Sector Reforms for guiding Chief Executives of Government Agencies shows that the Nigerian Government is making steady progress towards fully adopting this tool.
The BSC is pre-eminent in the world of strategy and from my experience working with the tool and implementing it with a number of institutions, I am thoroughly convinced that it is exactly what we need in Nigerian Football to give us the right focus and position us to be among the best football playing Nations in the world. At the heart of the BSC is the reality that success doesn’t come from merely “winging it” or “fire brigading it” as we have become accustomed to in Nigeria, rather it comes from deliberate thinking, and execution that tools like the BSC offer. Like the Japanese say – ‘good thinking…good product”, if we think and execute properly, we will significantly enhance the quality of our product. The BSC in its traditional form looks at strategy, performance and results from four perspectives: 1) Financial; 2) Customer/Stakeholders; 3) Process; and 4) People. The idea is simple, if you are to achieve sustainable success, your strategy and goals should focus on these four perspectives, not one one, two, or three alone, but on all four, because all four working together create sustainable success. Let’s explore some audacious perspectives to Nigerian football across these four perspectives of the BSC.
From the financial perspective, the NFF should be looking at the very important issue of raising money on a sustainable basis to fund its activities. A differentiated approach – private sector partnership with the creation of NFF Trust Fund governed and managed by Nigerian corporate and social leaders with proven integrity with a mandate to raise funds from the private sector. Separating the Trust Fund from the NFF and the Ministry of Sports will give more credibility to this approach, and the Trustees will be accountable in a transparent manner (live updates of income and expenditure via a website) to the Nigerian people. Nigerians can through crowd funding support their most loved National Treasure and send in their “widow’s mite” to this fund.
To ensure the sustenance of the financial goals, the NFF has to be deliberate about engaging its key stakeholders in this case, I wouldn’t say the Sports Ministry or FIFA – I will say the Nigerian people. A more engaging communication strategy that keeps the public apprised of the goals and performance of the NFF will have to be implemented – imagine a monthly dashboard on all the NFF’s Key Performance Indicators available via multiple media platforms.
Process is everything, and it is often under-estimated: How many friendly matches are we playing each year? What is the process for tracking the performance of Nigerian players abroad? How are we using big data and analytics to aid decision making with regards to team selection – can the technical adviser, Rohr, track and report on the performance of his key talent each month so that when it comes to team selection, it is clear who should make the team and who shouldn’t, based on current form?
Finally, people and talent – where do we get the next generation of talent from – what targets will Rohr be given each month regarding finding new talent from the local league, finding new talent from the diaspora and working with the youth team coaches to create a pipeline that feeds the senior teams.
Success in football requires being deliberate, and there is no better tool for being deliberate than the Balanced Card. Imagine if not just the NFF but the Coach and everyone else has a strategy aligned performance contract that linked strategy to individual performance. Imagine if we could have dashboards that are published and we could get more accountability from our Football Administrators and System – I can only imagine seeing us inching closer to a World Cup victory!
Omagbitse Barrow is a Chartered Accountant, and Abuja-based Strategy and OD Advisor with Learning Impact NG.