Dealing with Mediocrity, Happy with That?

My former co-conspirators at the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) would agree that I would very much like use football (or soccer in the US) as analogies to explain Key Efforts and Results (KEF) in any organisation.

The reasons are very simple,

1. Takes years to accumulate the assets and reputation.
2. Takes months to build up a team including younger generations that works continuously well for years after that.
3. Takes 90 minutes plus time to see the end-results. For better or worse.

Every effort one puts in as a leader and as a member of a team, is show-cased in this one act where it counts, in operation.

My favourite team, Manchester United (Man Utd) with 10 men had just lost its FA cup quarter-final match vs. Chelsea. Supporters drew heart from the match but they too may not realise much, they are celebrating mediocrity.

Mediocrity – the state or quality of being moderate quality or not very good.

How so?

Before the red-card shown to Herrera at 35 minutes, and after that – Man Utd had only 25% – 35% possessions, very few chances to sniff at the goal, let alone scoring one.

First of all, the two successful yet different type of leaders.

It took Sir Alex Ferguson a decade or more to build up an invincible and reputable team. The team basically dominates matter given, confronts all challenges, much feared and respected opponent by all. It was basically the team to beat.

And it took the current manager, Jose Mourinho, a wily fox just few years both times in his Chelsea careers, to defeat Man Utd twice~ with lesser assets and notable star players.

(Jose left a successful Chelsea career once due to personal dispute with the Russian owner and had returned again to helm the team until fired once more).

key management

The Leadership

Both men are very, very successful in their own rights but ultimately both fell victim to their own personal character weaknesses. Being good with team- and man-management, they succumb to producing moderate final results towards the end of projects:

1. Sir Alex Ferguson – transition of power; did not provide sufficient opportunity for transition between No. 1 Youth Squad with the No. 1 Senior Squad, resulting a lot of juniors leaving the programme due to lack of play time to join other football teams. Paul Pogba was from junior squad that went to ply his trade elsewhere before returning. In doing this, the Boss failed Man Utd post-Fergie time.

History taught us, even the best and mighty will need to leave. E.g. Dr Mahathir, PM of Malaysia after 22-years in power and Nokia, the phone brand from Finland.

2. Jose Mourinho – a shadow of self; is a primarily a book-keeper, statistician, a tactician and complete strategist with ability to bring the best out of an ordinary player and make him feel to be part of a bigger picture.

At his last career with Chelsea, Jose went too personal and got angry with the medical lady, the entire Chelsea team had rebelled and transformed from being champion team in less than 12 months before to become the bottom-club. Basically, he was dumped out.

True, he is arrogant, merciless yet powerful. He provides the Halo effect on people which influences them to be more than they can be on their own.

Halo effect – the tendency for an impression created in one area to influence opinion in another area.

He also build considerable energy, his efforts into transforming winners.

From his last managerial experience that put him into the wilderness, Jose Mourinho came back a shadow of himself. Still loud but not the same Special One, that he was, just like Man Utd the team.

organisation behaviour 1

Should Jose Mourinho, Manchester United team and fans celebrate their mediocrity?


Paul Pogba is the highest paid for £100m footballer, has to live up to expectation.

For years, Man Utd has been transferring players who don’t match their price for the project in mind. Part of the problem was the backroom team that left with Sir Alex Ferguson that was not retained by the quick succession of managers before Jose Mourinho. The talent scouts were utterly rubbish and so was the youth management.

How does one deal with mediocrity then? There are three main options.

1. The leadership think has to consider going back to old mentality where it used to be #1.

How some old companies build their reputations to be King of their Trade? Too much adoption of new ideas make the project too heavy and too ambitious that they lost sight of themselves.

2. The leadership think has to surpass all previous efforts through re-examination, total re-organisation, re-modelling and to conduct new strategic mapping entirely.

3. Consider engaging other experts to supplement, outsiders who can see with new sets of eyes, ears, hearts etc. and project thoughts to others from inside to outside the box.

Expand the level of Halo effect. The bigger challenges are to restore faith and confidence in the inside and outside. To eliminate or reduce perceptions and myopia of being great when actually not.

In a nutshell, accepting mediocrity, is the road leading to eventual purposeless death of greatness to outperform and surpass expectations.


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