Connect with us


DFB: Change Management by Jürgen Klinsmann (1/2)

It is extremely difficult to change a previously successful organization that is in crisis. Jürgen Klinsmann and his team faced this problem in 2004. With the third place at the 2006 World Cup, they proved that it can work.




It is particularly difficult to change an organization that used to be successful, but is now in crisis. That is exactly the situation Jurgen Klinsmann found themselves in in 2004. However, by reaching third place at the World Cup in 2006, they proved that it can be done

In 2008, Professor Dr. Wolfgang Jenewein commented on this phenomenon to the Harvard Business Manager. With his team, he is trying to find out how the successful change management was achieved at the DFB in just two years.

Here, we will look at the change management project at the DFB at the macro level.

1. Create a sense of urgency

Jürgen Klinsmann had studied German football since 1954. His conclusion: both the DFB and the German national team were in urgent need of reform. Some examples: hardly any of the active players from the German national team were playing internationally, and there were also deficits in training theory and sports science.

Klinsmann at the time: “While our foreign competitors continue to develop, we have not advanced in many areas. In the German national team, there was always only one coach and an assistant coach, who were responsible for everything. Nobody questioned anything. They always worked with the same structures. Yet,  there is so much money involved, there should be professional coaching for the every aspect of the team.”

2. Establish strong leadership coalitions

One thing was clear: Klinsmann only wanted to work with the “best of the best.” The responsibility should be spread over several shoulders. Nevertheless, he demanded sole decision-making rights for all topics related to sports. Klinsmann told the Harvard Business Manager: “In addition to co-trainers, managers, sports psychiatrists, fitness coaches, scouts and media representatives, my management team should also include a national team office to handle all organizational matters. I wanted to create a highly professional environment with team members whom I could trust blindly. I was uncompromising in these demands and I told the DFB: “If you want me, then go all the way or not at all.” ”

Klinsmann won both Joachim Löw (assistant coach) and Oliver Bierhoff (teammanager). These two staff decisions should be particularly sustainable.

3. Develop and communicate the vision and strategy

The vision was courageous, indeed almost absurd: “We want to win the world championship in our own country in 2006.” The triumvirate added another component to the sporting goal. They wanted to get the German people inspired about football again. Oliver Bierhoff said it best: “Every child in Germany should have the desire to become a national player again.”

This also had an impact on strategy and game philosophy. England was the measure of all things, at least in terms of energy and emotions. Mistakes are better than waiting, space gain better than ball possession.

The players were also involved in the strategy. Conclusion: they had to create an offensive and aggressive game strategy.

4. Let the game flow and give the players more freedom

“All theory is gray – the field’s what matters.” Klinsmann, Löw and Bierhoff also knew this. Finally, the smart ideas had to be implemented.

Klinsmann took over the underestimated role of a facilitator. He had demanded the “best of the best,” so now he let the experts do their jobs. The team followed a strict separation of sporting and organizational tasks.

The athletic record was quite impressive at the start. Quietly, however, it was not a change project. For instance, Klinsmann’s team made some unpopular personnel decisions. The qualitative development of the team was at the forefront. On the other hand, the responsible people took some clear criticism.

5. Achieve visible success and secure it

As a World Cup host, the DFB team did not have to prove themselves. With only friendly games, it was difficult to show short-term success despite the vision, strategy and new processes.

The Confederations Cup took place in Germany approximately one year after Klinsmann took over. The German team got third place after a good tournament performance. In addition, the team managed to implement the planned offensive game culture.

Sports psychologist Hans-Dieter Hermann at the time: “The players have noticed: What Jürgen Klinsmann tells us is true. The tactics, the fitness, the psyche, the environment – everything is going well, and suddenly one has begun to believe in the vision, winning the World Cup. The Cup was certainly the proof of concept.”

6. Anchoring new approaches in everyday life

According to Wolfgang Jenewein, change projects are often focused on one person. The suspicion was also obvious in the case of Jürgen Klinsmann. But it did not go so far. The project was not the “Klinsmann” – but the “DFB project.” This fact became clear even after his resignation in 2006. Löw and Bierhoff seamlessly took over the project and have continued it since then.

Klinsmann at that time: “The solution to the problems did not come from an individual, but from the community – leading means to serve a cause.”

➡️ Continue reading in part 2

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply


Are Manchester City’s Long-Term Plans Finally Coming Together?



When Manchester City won the English Premier League (EPL) back in 2012 it was their first league title in 44 years. City CEO Ferran Soriano was appointed in the summer of the same year and his vision for the club was to win five trophies in five years. In an interview with City Watch, Soriano outlined that he wants City to be the club of the future and the best team in football. In 2013, City were runners-up in the EPL, before going on to win the league title again in 2014 as well as the Capital One Cup. While not entirely achieving Soriano’s trophy goal, City have consistently been in the top three.

In 2014, City Football Group (CFG) was founded with the long-term vision of more than trophies. Soriano envisioned Manchester City as not just as a singular club, but a global brand, with franchise teams the world over. In the last few years, since Soriano’s appointment, CFG now own full or partial stakes in clubs on four continents and the contracts of 240 male professional players and two dozen female professionals. The global clubs are New York City FC in the MLS, Melbourne City FC in Australia, and Yokohama F Marinos in Japan. Their long-term vision is already coming to fruition through the building of state-of-the-art academies and training facilities across the world to train the next generation of players.

Expanding on marketing, the brand as a global franchise for both players and fans, and as part of Soriano’s vision for Manchester City, the club launched a new “Cityzens” platform. The aim is to improve interactions between clubs and fans throughout the world, by rewarding them for their loyalty and bringing them together to make their lives more enjoyable through football. Just like uniting their global teams under the Manchester City banner and colours, Cityzens enables the club to connect with its fans and better understand their needs. It also enables fans to have a closer and more meaningful connection with their club, and feel like they are an important part of it.

As part of their future vision CFG and Soriano have said they have already forged links in China. Chinese president Xi Jinping said he would like to create 50,000 soccer schools within 10 years and build 140,000 football pitches. Soriano’s vision is to teach soccer to millions of Chinese kids and tap into the vast Chinese market. CFG sold a 13% stake to state-backed Chinese investors valuing the company at £2.1 billion. Having an on-the-ground presence in growing football markets around the world has been a game changer for CFG and Manchester City in terms of brand exposure as well as investment. And it certainly helps that City are doing the business on the pitch, with the club’s reputation now reaching every continent.

After the clinching the Carabao Cup in February, Manchester City have the potential to win a total of three trophies this year and exceed Soriano’s visions. Having reached the quarterfinal stage in the Champions League, City are looking at a difficult away game against Liverpool in the 1st leg. At home, with the league title almost certainly in the bag, City have a game away against Everton coming up with football betting specialists bwin giving odds of 1.36 to City compared to 8.50 for Everton. Although City have only won one out of the last five meetings between the two teams (drawing three and losing one) the favourable odds are due to City being top of the league, and clear by 16 points, while Everton are ninth. City have also beaten Arsenal (twice), and Chelsea in the past four weeks. While Everton have won their past two games they have struggled against the top teams, losing to Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool in 2018.

If City continue their winning trend, and if CFG continue to successfully expand the brand, then Soriano’s long-term plans may well be completed in the near future.

Continue Reading


MLBAM, “The Biggest Media Company You’ve Never Heard Of”

Ever since the National Hockey League (NHL) began to play some of its matches “outdoors” in the major league’s best known stadiums, the two leagues have had a good relationship with each other.




Baseball and ice hockey have been coming closer together for two years now. This is just one of the many examples of successful Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) projects. The company is considered to be one of the most exciting players in the sports business.

Launched in 2000 as the core of MLBAM, was financed by 30 clubs under an agreement for $1 million  per year for four years – totaling $120 million. To the owners’ delight, the website began to generate excess revenue as early as 2003, so the teams were able to start making a return on investment after only investing about $70 million. The 30 clubs now receive annual dividends. In 2014, these are estimated to have been between $7 and $8 million per club.

Under the six-year contract with NHL, MLBAM has now acquired the distribution rights for all out-of-market games for a total of 600 million dollars. This includes the release via NHL GameCenter LIVE, NHL subscription services in the USA and various international markets. MLBAM also operates, including all foreign language versions and all NHL Club websites.

MLBAM reaches undreamt-of heights

NHL and MLBAM will work together on new digital products and platforms for design and development. The clubs retain control over the content of all channels. The MLB Network offers the use of studios and production resources for the NHL Network for distribution in the USA and some international markets. In addition, the NHL now holds seven to ten percent of the MLBAM spin-off “BAM Tech.”

It’s groundbreaking to have two leagues doing a rights deal. (John Collins, NHL COO)

The road to becoming a “major player” within the media world was marked by several key moments:

  • Providers of back-end infrastructure to stream MLB games for millions of users
  • Provider of authentication services for ESPN
  • White label service for HBO Now and the WWE Network
  • Content purchasing, e. g. digital media rights of the PGA for online and mobile media

Crowned by the NHL deal, MLBAM has successively developed further to position itself as the “Next Big Thing” within the sports media industry. With the spin-off BAM Tech, the company aims to become the ESPN of the digital age and will be competing with companies such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon in the future.

In August 2016, Disney announced the purchase of 33 percent of BAMtech’s shares. The value: $1 billion dollars. Disney CEO Bob Iger back then:”We think it’s a good investment. We love the business model. And we think that the ability to stream live sports with a scalable model is a necessary competitive advantage these days.” Disney actually picked investing in BAMtech over investing in Twitter.

A year ago, BAMTech agreed to pay at least $300 million for the exclusive streaming and monetization rights for League of Legends competitions.

Continue Reading


Study: Football Fans in China Love Club Sponsorship

About two thirds (65 percent) of Chinese football fans intend to buy products from an official sponsor of a football club. At least that’s what a new study says.



football china

The Red Card+ Report has asked more than 30,000 football fans in China about their motivation for following European leagues. One thing is clear: Chinese fans can be strongly influenced by team sponsoring and marketing measures.

More than half (58 percent) consider sponsors to be very influential in their partnerships with clubs. This shows the value these associations can have on fans in China. This creates great opportunities for the global sports business. Clubs such as FC Bayern have been working for years on the right positioning in China.

The report is the largest survey of Chinese sports fans to date. The sports marketing agency Mailman developed it together with the soccer news app Sike.

Sports sponsoring as a new concept in China

According to Tom Elsden, Senior Client Manager at Mailman, the marketing preferences of Chinese fans are a reflection of China’s changing culture.

In the West, we have been exposed to marketing and sponsors on a daily basis for 30 years. Here in China, sponsorship is a relatively new concept. It’s working for fans and we expect additional growth and investment. This is a great opportunity for football clubs and sponsors.”

The report also shows a number of cultural differences among football fans. 76 percent of Chinese fans prefer a favorite player over a favorite club. This is in contrast to Western culture, where geography or family traditions are often the reasons for choosing a club. Chinese fans are a little more relaxed about this and a large number (72 percent) even follow a second team besides their favorite.

“We know that China is an icon market, that the players really dictate which teams the fans follow. So far, there have been no figures on this. We would encourage clubs to put more of their star players online, develop their presence and then use it as a lever to spread the clubs throughout China,” said Elsden.

More than half (54 percent) of fans are willing to pay to watch games. The majority (92 percent) would prefer to see the games at home. This behavior is partly due to the time difference. On the one hand, many games do not start until after 10 p. m., and on the other hand many fans prefer to watch football alone on mobile devices.

Chinese fans prefer their club’s official social media channels over traditional news sites, with 71 percent receiving their messages from official Weibo and WeChat accounts, which they consider more trustworthy.

Red Card+ Report provides new insights

The Red Card+ Report is a supplement to the annual Red Card Report, which analyzes and determines the influence of European football teams on Chinese social media channels.

According to Andrew Collins, Mailman CEO, the report is the most comprehensive analysis of modern Chinese fans of European football.

“The analysis in this report provides more insight than ever into what really drives these fans. The survey provided some of the results we expected. Others have improved our understanding of the people driving the fast-growing football market in China.”

Continue Reading