And so another World Cup has come to an end. Over the past few weeks we've seen some incredible displays of excellence on the field, with Germany ultimately lifting the coveted trophy. Along the way there have been many highs and lows; shocks and surprises, disappointment for some and glory for others (and by that, I don't just mean Germany. There are many others returning home with their heads rightfully held high.) But what lessons can we, the excellence community learn from football's greatest tournament?
Team Work: once again, we've seen that it's not enough to have a couple of talented individuals. To succeed, the individuals must play together effectively, enabling the individuals to maximise their contribution and deliver moments that amaze even the harshest critics. Having learned from previous tournaments, Argentina built their team to ensure their stars could shine.
Never under-estimate the competition: the days of "easy fixtures" are well and truly over. The playing field is more level than ever before; there's no room for complacency in the World Cup. The early exits of England, Italy and Spain, home of 3 of the most financially lucrative domestic leagues, effectively demonstrates this fact.
Invest in the future: there are huge differences in the salaries and transfer fees between the top domestic leagues around the world. However, it's the investment being made at the "grass roots" level, nurturing young and emerging talent that appears to be paying dividends. And tellingly, the differences in investment and infrastructure here is less pronounced.
Leadership: many see the lack of leadership on the field as the root cause of Brazil's capitulation to Germany in the semi-finals. Whilst attention was focused on the absence of their star striker, it was the direction provided by their captain that they really missed. Although credit must be given to Germany for...
Doing the simple things right: excellence starts with quality and consistency. Germany's display against Brazil was a master class in focus, patience and precision. In times of great pressure, we sometimes forget about what really matters. In football, that's keeping possession, your structure and waiting for the right opportunity.
Calculated risks: who can forget the decision of the Netherlands to replace their goalkeeper in the final minute of extra time? 2 saves from 5 penalties made this the most inspired substitution of the tournament.
Pride and Passion: at the end of the day, so long as the team has played with the same passion displayed by their fans, they can return home to a proud nation with their heads held high.
Later this month, we'll be announcing the nominees for the 2014 EFQM Excellence Award. Just like the World Cup, there will be some well-known names and also some surprises. But all of these organisations should be immensely proud that their own passion, dedication and commitment to excellence is being recognised at the highest level. We'll just have to wait a little longer, the 20th of October to be precise, to applaud the winners.