Lessons learned at adidas: 4P’s for business success (By Thomas Michael Hogg)

By: Thomas Michael Hogg

First of all, many thanks to Arturo for inviting me to write for his blog. I was quickly convinced because I do strongly agree with him that sports and business do have a lot of things in common and might impact your tomorrow’s results. In my experience working for and with top executives of the German sporting goods giant adidas I learned 4 crucial “P’s” that profoundly influence my business thoughts and decisions until today.


There are four highly important elements to be successful in business and that key decision makers at adidas take into account:








In your every day’s business challenges you certainly have asked yourself about these four elements. If not, it is time to think about: How passionate are you about what you do? Do you perform according to results and expectations? Are you and your actions, decisions, and strategies profitable? Does what you do or decide have to do with the real purpose?



Sport is about passion, and there is no successful athlete that is not passionate about what he or she is doing. Athletes breathe, live, and dream what they are doing every day. Most of them make their dream come true doing what they love. Are you passionate about your job, responsibilities, projects, objectives, and team? Your teammates will notice and your results will show if you are so.

At adidas passion is a way of working and thinking. So was adidas’ Founder Adi Dassler, he was not only passionate about helping the athletes to perform, he wanted them to perform BEST. The best example was his innovative idea at the Football World Cup 1954 in Switzerland, which permitted the “Miracle of Bern”. Germany, crushed after World War II, had more pressing matters to deal with than a football tournament in Switzerland. But in the end, it was exactly what the country needed. Facing the unbeatable Hungarians in the final, a victory seemed out of reach for the underdog Germany. Enter Adi, who was in charge of the equipment of the German National team. He provided the players with a whole new boot made out of thinner, lighter leather and with screw-in studs.





While the Hungarians struggled during the rainy final wearing heavy rain-soaked boots with studs too short to find a grip on the muddy field, the German team went on to score the game-deciding goal with more grip and a better feel for the ball. For Germany, the victory brought new confidence, for adidas and Adi Dassler the innovative football boots brought international recognition and a market leadership in the football business.



Performance is certainly another crucial ingredient to be successful. Therefore, we have to consider both, individual and team performance. Without individual performance there is no team performance. Do you perform best? Do you have the skills to leverage your business becoming the number 1? Ask yourself as well: Do I really help my team? Where may my team perform better? Do we use best practices or do we set best practices? Top athletes and teams always improve and perform towards a desired result.









At adidas the performance factor plays a crucial role on and off the field. Some examples.. At 07.00 am, before starting work they meet to run together, at lunch time they play soccer or tennis, and finishing workday they use the headquarters’ gym. Thereby, the sport performance is automatically inherited in the firm’s culture. Moreover, employees are performance-driven because they know that they have to develop the best products to satisfy the demanding athlete’s needs. I recommend you to read an interview with one of my best friends at the adidas headquarters, Aubrey Dolan, the man responsible for creating the lightest boot in football history. Aubrey describes that they identified a clear need for a speed boot and designed a holistic concept to make the players faster on the pitch.

Another self-reflection: Do you perform best to satisfy customer needs?

See the whole interview of Aubrey Dolan: http://www.soccerbible.com/news/general/archive/2010/06/04/adidas-F50-adizero-meet-the-designer-part-one.aspx




Even though, many athletes and business people are working hard, many of them lack to be profitable. Profitable means being productive and of course WINNING. At the bottom line, are you really winning each week, month, quarter or year? Do your business decisions and projects really generate profits?

At adidas’ headquarters there has been one really good decision talking about the Mexican Market. In 2006, the Mexican Football Federation (FMF) was looking for a new and reliable partner, while adidas was looking for the market leadership in the Mexican sporting goods sector. The key Sports Marketing executives of adidas in Herzogenaurach/Germany took a long-term win-win decision. They signed a long-term contract and a profitable business with the FMF that had its peak at the World Cup 2010 where the Mexican jersey was the most sold SKU comparing to other key adidas federations like Spain or Germany. adidas is always looking for real and long-term partnerships that deliver profits for all parts: athletes, the federation, and for the firm. Not surprisingly the adidas brand announced lately its new partnership with the popular football club Chivas for the coming season, what seems to be another profitable project for all parts.

Even though profits are the bottom-line and crucial for the German firm, adidas’ CEO Herbert Hainer is considering another decisive success factor: the purpose of the firm.



The firm’s purpose is not only to serve athletes, federations, and customers, but also take care about your own talents, your employees. It was very surprising that adidas did not fire employees during the crisis 2008 and 2009, while key competitors did so. adidas trusted on its talents, knowing that it is like sports: Even there is a downturn you may come back even stronger sticking to your mission, people, and core values. See the adidas group mission statement: http://www.adidas-group.com/en/ourgroup/values/default.aspx.

Remember: Impossible is nothing.

Let me know what you think about the 4P’s and your experience about these four important pillars.

About the author:

Linkedin / Thomas Michael Hogg


Skype / thommy_c


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