Have you heard the audio of the VAR mess up during the Tottenham v Liverpool match? Here’s a snippet…
VAR: Check complete, check complete. That’s fine, perfect (showing Liverpool attacker Diaz is clearly onside). Off.
Referee: Cheers mate
VAR: Thank you mate
Referee. Well done boys. Good process.
The Referee restarts the game after indicating to the players that Diaz was ruled offside by the VAR. Then the VAR team realise they’ve made a mistake.
Replay operator: Wait, wait, wait, wait. The on-field decision was offside. Are you happy with this?
Assistant VAR: Offside goal yeah. That’s wrong, Daz.
Replay operator: On-field decision was offside. Are you happy with this image? Yeah it’s onside. The image that we gave them is onside.
VAR: Oh (expletive)
Replay operator: Oli’s calling in to say delay the game. The decision is onside!
VAR: Can’t do anything.
Replay operator: Oli’s saying to delay.
VAR: They’ve restarted the game. Can’t do anything, can’t do anything.
Assistant VAR: Yeah, they’ve restarted. Yeah
VAR: Can’t do anything.
Assistant VAR: No
VAR: I can’t do anything. I can’t do anything.
Now, the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Board) have said that the error was down to a “lapse of concentration and a loss of focus.” Oh well. It’s only a game. Is it (expletive). This game is a massive industry, a huge employer and, as one Liverpool manager famously said… “It’s not life and death. It’s much, much more important than that.” And now the current Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp is calling for that match to be replayed. Whether it is or it isn’t, the ramifications of this “lapse of concentration” are enormous.
It’s time for a bit of creative thinking. I’ve run hundreds of innovation projects and one of the things we’ll always do when facing a big challenge is to think if anyone in the world has already cracked it. Who’s brilliant at doing the thing we want to be better at? Finding inspiration from a world outside of your field, by learning how they approach a similar challenge, is one of the best ways to rethink what you do and how you do it.
Can you imagine Air Traffic Control operating like our VAR teams currently do?
Pilot: Air Traffic Control this is flight LS920. How’s our trajectory?
Air Traffic Control: What? Oh yeah check complete.
ATC Assistant: Err angle’s a bit steep. Tell the crew?
Air Traffic Control: Yeah go on two sugars.
Pilot: Thanks boys. Good process.
ATC Assistant: You happy with that, Daz? I’ve drawn the lines. They’re missing the runway.
Air Traffic Control: Told them now. Can’t do anything.
Or the SAS in the battlefield, getting instructions from command control.
Command Control: Target spotted at 2 o’clock.
Soldier: OK I’m going in.
Command Control Assistant: That was the time, not the location, Daz.
Command Control: What?
Command Control Assistant: We should delay the battle.
Command Control: No it’s all kicked off again. Nothing I can do.
Air Traffic Control, the military, and many other vital services, where clarity, accuracy and quickly reacting to any mistakes is critical, all have their own processes, their training, their back up systems, rigorously developed and refined.
The PGMOL need to stop making excuses, stop making mistakes and start learning from other worlds where quick, consistent, and correct decision making is paramount.
Creative thinking, innovation, and doing things differently is not just for brands and businesses. The first step is acknowledging when there’s an issue and then spend some extra time learning how other teams manage to get better results.