What It Takes To Win

What It Takes To Win: Principles for Success

Join Our Mailing List

Our latest research paper, What It Takes To Win: A Winning Formula For Elite Teams, discusses a model that helps sports organizations find clarity and generate strategy around the factors that create competitive advantage in their context. Over the coming weeks we’ll be exploring the framework and discussing how organizations can use it to lay the foundations for sustainable success.

Click here to download the paper for free.


As we’ve discussed recently, the What It Takes To Win (WITTW) model can be a powerful tool for organizations that aim to define and codify winning in their context and create an aligned strategy to realize those goals.

However, WITTW can only be fully effective when implemented in an environment that prioritizes the healthy challenge and exchange of ideas, embraces complexity, and takes account of all contributing factors. If you are considering deploying the WITTW model, these are the 10 principles that can ensure that your organization is fully prepared to maximize its impact.

Define Winning

Invest significant time defining exactly what ‘winning’ means for your organization. Is it reaching the playoffs? Winning the championship? Doing it once or repeatedly? Or maybe your goal is simply survival? As obvious as this step might sound, it’s amazing how often there is a lack of clarity around winning in organizations.

Align Winning

WITTW is about making winning a reality, not just dreaming about it. Ensure that winning is aligned to your brands and its values as well as your resources. If it’s not, you’ll need to change both.

Team Composition

Create a small, highly trusting group of people with a diverse range of skills and experiences to challenge the status quo and each other’s ideas.

Beware of the HiPPO

The opinions of the HiPPO (highest paid person) in the room shouldn’t carry more weight than those of others. Don’t allow hierarchy to get in the way of great solutions.

Prepare to be Iconoclastic

Insist on an open-minded environment that relishes debate. The WITTW room must be a safe but challenging space. Just because something has never been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Question Everything

Be bold. Ask why and how and be prepared to defend your ideas with evidence. It’s great to be creative and dream, but winning is about being ruthlessly practical about action.

Embrace Complexity

Deconstruct complexity through experts and communicate it simply. What you show and how you explain it should be appropriate for the selected audience.

Build a Complete Model

Build a model that takes account of all the key factors within your particular context. Areas such as communications, marketing and commercial might not be traditional performance factors, but they could play an important role for you.

No Equality of Ideas

Some factors matter more and some ideas are stronger than others. Make this explicit and ensure that everyone understands why.

Fully Commit

None of this works if it only exists in someone’s head, or in a space where others can only partially access or understand it. So commit to it. Write it down in detail. Then communicate it widely and often so that everyone in the organizations understands it as well as those who created it.

Image: Nik Shuliahin/Unsplash

Interested in reading more about What It Takes To Win? Our research team’s latest paper, What It Takes To Win: A Winning Formula for Elite Teams, is available to download now.