From Total Football to Total Sustainability
Oh, how the mighty fall! The Dutch national football team limped out of Euro 2012 last night without a point to their name. I was disappointed as I’ve always been a fan of the Oranje, remembering the imperious triumvirate of van Basten, Gullit and Rijkaard who swept all before them in Euro 1988 with that uniquely Dutch brand of soccer known as Total Football.
Total Football, exemplified by the legendary Johan Cruyff in the 1970s (right), was the concept that every player had to be proficient in every position, so the team could adapt fluidly to any circumstance arising during the game, taking responsibility for all roles, no matter what their nominal starting position was. It was developed by national coach Rinus Michels who took the team to the World Cup finals in 1974 and that 1988 title.
There are clear parallels with Total Quality Management (TQM) where Quality became everybody’s responsibility, not just that of designated quality staff. This lead to revolutions in motor manufacturing and consumer electronics.
My model of addressing ethical, social and environmental issues within business is based on TQM, so it could be dubbed ‘Total Sustainability’ – where every ‘player’ in the company has responsibility for sustainability, no matter what their nominal job role. This takes awareness, skills and willingness to ‘own’ environmental and ethical problems and not just leave them to others. Achieving such a culture change is no trivial task, but the TQM revolution shows that it can be done.
Despite their mastery of Total Football, the Dutch team’s success has often been undermined by their notoriously combustible team spirit – that’s one aspect best not copied!