GLS18 Session Notes–Rasmus Ankersen–Hunger in Paradise

Published August 16, 2018


Leading OrganizationsStrategyVision

Story of Nokia 3310. The Nokia 3310 was once recognized as the greatest phone ever produced. It never ran out of battery and it was indestructible. Nokia is a success story – but it is also the story of a company that lost its mojo – going from 50% global market share to 3% in less than five years.

As leaders, we need to consider how to keep our organizations relevant and fresh.

How do we reinvent our organizations – not from a position of weakness but from a position of strength?

When an organization becomes successful, it doesn’t fight competitors. It fights itself.

When an organization becomes successful, it doesn’t fight competitors. It fights itself.

Story of New Castle United Football (Soccer) Club. New Castle United has a billion dollar owner and a great fan base. But for the past 50 years, they have had a losing record. Then, in 2012, they finished 5th in the English Premier League. Everyone expected great things in the next season. But the following season was a disaster.

The brightest guys in football don’t work in the football clubs. They work in the gambling industry. They use sophisticated mathematical models to place their bets.

The mindset of an analytical gambler can teach successful organizations how to stay relevant.


1) Never trust success blindly. Instead, treat success with the same skepticism as failure.

The lead table always lies. Instead of wins/losses, you must look at the underlying performance indicators with more predictive value.

  • In New Castle’s 2012 season, compared to other top teams, their goal differential was high but their shot differential was low. This indicates an unsustainable high conversion rate.

Outcome Bias. We assume that good results always come from superior performance.

Success turns luck into genius.

When an organization fails, we ask tough questions of the leaders. But when we are successful, we rarely dig into why we were successful. We should treat success with the same skepticism as failure.

We should treat success with the same skepticism as failure.

Story of Lego not taking success for granted. They produced a police station that was missing one brick, and although only 2% of customers complained, they replaced all 30,000 sets.


2) Never lose your sense of urgency. Make sure your organization doesn’t fall into a comfortable mindset.

Gold Mines of Talent:

  • One small village in Ethiopia has produced ten Olympic gold medals and 32 World Championships in distance running.
  • The best sprinters come from the same athletic club on the outskirts of Kingston.
  • 35% of the world’s best female golfers are from South Korea.
  • A small mountain town in Sweden produces some of the best alpine skiers.

When organizations become successful, sometimes comfort is more important than improvement.

The best sprint club in the world has poor facilities and a coach whose background is in statistics, not running. Their coach said, “The best performance centers should not be designed for comfort. They should be designed for hard work.”


3) Enlarge your vision. Successful organizations make the world bigger and their share smaller.

Story of Lego enlarging their vision. After a successful year, the CEO asked an insightful question. Are we competing against the toy industry? Or are we competing against anything else on which a child would want to spend their money?

Story of Coca-Cola. After winning the battle against Pepsi, they enlarged their vision to compete in all drink categories.


*Disclaimer: GLS18 Session Notes are only available in the United States*


⬅ Back to all GLS18 Session Notes

About the Author(s)
speaker headshot for The Global Leadership 2018.

Rasmus Ankersen

Best-selling Author; Entrepreneur

Rasmus Ankersen is an expert on performance development and a trusted advisor to businesses and athletes around the world. He is the chairman of FC Midtjylland in Denmark, and a director of Brentford FC  in England, two of the world’s most innovative football (soccer) clubs recognized for their use of big data to drive decision-making. Ankersen’s most recent book, Hunger in Paradise, details how organizations can remain successful by eliminating complacency.

Years at GLS 2018