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Handball and management: from success to failure and back up

On January 29th, 2017 France was winning the World Handball Championship. Yesterday, after 6 wins in the European Handball Championship—the only team with only wins until the semifinal, France was eliminated by Spain after a game in which Les Bleus looked very different.

I’m trying to understand what led to this unexpected result given the previous results obtained in the tournament and also the fact that the French team this year is very similar to the one in 2017—fact that I take as an advantage of unity and team efficiency, more than a sign of a team getting old. To be very clear, I have no intention to minimize Spain’s success which was won with a great strategy, game plan, and effort.

My curiousity is mostly related to what mechanics can change so radically the way a very experienced and well greased team with a perfect track record performs in a critical moment. And next, how do you regain your confidence to play the next game.

Imagine working with a very experienced team that delivers consistently high quality releases. Now with no visible changes in the objectives or area of work, we not only fail to ship in time, but during the whole iteration we are almost clueless of how to address the growing delays and issues.

Update: next day France won the bronze medal in a game with Denmark. When I wrote the title the other day, I had no intention to make it sound like a prediction. I was rather thinking that in sports, you need to be able to refocus very, very fast after a win or a lost.

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