If you've turned on a television lately, you likely heard that the world has caught FIFA fever. Kicking off (pun intended) today in South Africa, the football — soccer to us Americans — tournament is front and center on the global stage.

Most oddsmakers have Brazil and Spain listed as the teams to beat, based on team rankings, quality of players and previous FIFA titles. However, consulting firm Towers Watson has opted to use a … well ... less conventional set of metrics to predict this year’s World Cup champion.

According to TW, if company culture and manager performance are any guide, Brazil and Portugal will compete in the World Cup final on July 11, with Portugal besting five-time champion Brazil.

TW’s analysis assumes that national teams are illustrative of what happens in companies within their countries in terms of organization support and management skills. The firm’s analysis is based on employee data from the 32 participating countries and looks at the drivers of superior team performance.

Using a weighted average of country employee opinion benchmarks against the latest FIFA rankings, the analysis takes into account organization-level factors such as:

• Encouraging innovation in tactics and general play
• Matching pay to team performance
• Encouraging good performance in nonfinancial ways
• Dealing appropriately with poor performance
• Using data to improve team and individual performance
• Implementing adequate security measures to protect players
• Using the latest technologies and data to improve team performance
• Providing access to adequate equipment/tools/resources (to train and prepare for the competition).

The index also looks at team-level factors, such as a manager’s:

• Leadership skills
• Vision
• Technical competence
• Ability to set ambitious but achievable targets
• Attention to celebrating success
• Ability to inspire confidence through their decisions
• Communication skills/quality of communication with players
• Efforts to encourage players to improve their performance
• Attention to ensure that resources are available to facilitate their team’s success
• Authority
• Ability to treat players with respect
• General management skills.

Based on these factors, Serbia will defeat Greece to take third place in the tournament and Portugal will beat Brazil in the final, according to TW. Sadly, the analysis has the United States losing in the Group stage, along with previous FIFA winners France and Argentina and host nation South Africa.

“Clearly, our index will be a poor predictor of the real World Cup — for example, there is no way France will drop out at the Group stages,” says Yves Duhaldeborde, a proud Frenchman and managing director of employee research at Towers Watson. “However, while this is a bit of fun, it does highlight significant differences from country to country in organizational style and employee perceptions. These drivers of performance are as important for companies as are they are for football teams.”

Duhaldeborde  concludes: “Successful football coaches take an increasingly sophisticated approach to managing their teams. They use data and analytics to better predict outcomes and deploy ‘talent’ around specific operating models, such as Brazil’s use of two defensive midfielders. The comparisons here with successful companies are more than a coincidence.”

What do you think? Are TW’s findings coincidence or concrete? Analysis aside, who are you rooting for to take this year’s World Cup title? Post your predictions in the comments.

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