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September 11, 2017

An Agile Lesson from Rafael Nadal

1 minute read, in Behaviour / Marketing

Rafael Nadal won his 3rd US Open championship and his 16th Major. He decisively beat his long-time big serving friend Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in 2hr 27min.

Rafa had a fairly comfortable run through the 2017 Open draw, not meeting any player ranked in the top 20. However, there was one player, Juan Martín del Potro, who could have ended Nadal’s run. Del Potro had already taken out Federer in the previous quarter-final round and seemed to be hitting his tournament peak at just the right time.

Nadal’s strategy going into the match was to keep hitting to Del Potro’s backhand as that was his weak spot.  If your opponent has a flaw then exploiting that seems like a logical strategy. Nadal lost the first set 4-6.

Sometimes you have to lose a bit to know how to win. I changed my plan because it was very obvious and that is what made the difference – Rafael Nadal


Instead of plowing through with the planned strategy he reassessed midway through.   He lifted his head, analyzed, discovered that it wasn’t working and restrategized.

Although testing and retesting a strategy in a tennis match might be easier as the results are near immediate, we should apply the same approach to project strategy and scope. This is more difficult especially when there are timelines, scoping and budget already assessed. However, lifting our heads and confirming that a strategy is still working during a project cycle is much easier than seeing a project through with an outdated strategy and trying to fix it at the end.

Rafa ended up winning against Del Potro, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2. That’s a winning strategy.

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