Updated: Aug 28, 2021
In professional sport, much of our focus is on creating a competitive advantage within the rules and spirit of fair play. There are many ways to approach it, including:
CAN'T OR WON'T DO: Do something that your competitors are not willing to do or can't do.
NEUTRALIZE IT: If you find yourself behind, immediately neutralize the gap by quickly adopting the innovation.
GET RID OF STUPID STUFF: There's innovation in just automating things that take a long time or even dropping things that don't make sense.
Let's look into each of these approaches in more detail:
Can't or won't do approach: This approach creates a genuine gap between you and your opponents. What do you have access to that your opponents don't (technology, infrastructure, funding, experts, etc.). This can also be cultural - having full buy-in from players means you can do things that other teams are unwilling to do. This is where you should spend most of your effort.
Neutralize it approach: If your opponent adopts a new piece of technology, a new approach to preparing the team. This category is easily copied and typically solved by spending money, neutralizing their advantage and then moving on (or, refocusing on the can't or won't do). Don't spend too much time on this approach. Act quickly.
Get rid of stupid stuff approach: The best way to make your team's preparation more efficient is to study what coaches, players and administrators do all day. What do they spend a lot of time on. Can this process be automated or sometimes eliminated. Giving back time to coaches and support staff is very valuable. This allows them to spend more time on things that impact performance.
When it comes to innovation, you achieve what you emphasize. If you spend all day trying to do things slightly better than your opponents, the gap won't be that significant. However, if you achieve a number of things that your opponents can't easily do, then you have created an advantage. Even if you only make processes faster and more efficient, that's helpful. It's an interesting way to look at your organization and see if there are opportunities for innovation.