What if Jose Mourinho was a Chief Knowledge Officer?

José Mário dos Santos Félix Mourinho – how do you describe this man? To some he is a genius while to others he appears to be crazy. He is loved by many (he is truly the ‘Special One’ for most Chelsea fans) and equally hated by a lot of others (you just need to read the articles which appeared in the UK newspapers following his announcement to come back to Chelsea to understand what I mean). Despite all his eccentricities, I am a huge fan of the man. As he decided to come back to Stamford Bridge for the second term recently (Yippee….), a crazy idea struck me! I was thinking, what if Jose had chosen to become a Knowledge Management professional rather than going on to manage football clubs across Europe. What if he had decided to use ‘knowledge’ rather than ‘football’ to make him the ‘Special One’?

There is no doubt that he would have risen to the post of Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) rather quickly after learning the tricks of the trade in the first few years. Let’s explore what would have made him a unique professional.

Focus – If you have followed Mourinho’s career over the years, it is likely that you would have noticed the steely focus he instills in his teams on winning. Here is what Diego Milito stated during his tenure with Inter Milan “It’s no fluke that after a defeat, Inter gets straight back on its feet. That’s all thanks to Mourinho.” And this one is a Jose special: “I love players who love to win. They not only win in 90 minutes, but every day, every training session, in every moment of their lives”. It could be safely assumed that in his avatar of a CKO he would have demanded his team members to believe passionately in the vision of the team and go all out for it. Failing to achieve the goals would not even have been an option. Sounds like a key ingredient for success, isn’t it?

Bonding – I used to work with a colleague whose favourite quote was ‘You are as good as your team’. I am not sure whether he ever followed the fortunes of Mourinho but the statement has the stamp of the man all over it. If you analyze the teams managed by him (Porto, Chelsea & Inter), one thing that stands out is his equation and rapport with his players. He has this unique ability to create a positive atmosphere in a team and inspire players to push themselves beyond the comfort zone. Case in point – Frank Lampard: ‘I’ve had really good managers and different managers at times. It’s the ones that get the best out of you, individually.’ He goes on to say ‘Mourinho was the best. For me he was. He brought my confidence to a level it had never been.’ There is little doubt that Jose would have created some star Knowledge Managers who would have gone any distance for him.

The value of dialogue & communication– Before joining Inter, Mourinho stated “I studied Italian five hours a day for many months to ensure I could communicate with the players, media and fans.” Wouldn’t it have been brilliant if a CKO had put his time in preparing him for meaningful dialogues with the stakeholders and team members? Wouldn’t it have been refreshing to have a CKO who felt it is important to get one’s hands dirty rather than being restricted to operational stuff and talk only in strategic terms?

Inspire – Sports psychologist Andy Barton once commented: “Mourinho will always look to turn a negative into a positive. If a team is 3-0 down at half time and the manager starts screaming about all the mistakes made, it doesn’t help. Instead he’ll focus on things they are doing right, and then tell them how they can turn the game around.” As a CKO, Jose would probably have stuck to the same principle and it is unlikely that his team would not have responded to him at times when the chips are down.

Know your strengths – Jose once famously commented “If Roman Abramovich helped me out in training we would be bottom of the league and if I had to work in his world of big business, we would be bankrupt!” A CKO who openly acknowledges his weaknesses (there by allowing others around him to focus on what they do best) and focuses on his strengths is poised for success, isn’t it? In-depth knowledge and awareness of the strengths and weaknesses in you and your team members is a critical success factor but it needs a lot of hard work on the part of the CKO. Mourinho’s right hand man (someone who has stayed with him at every club), Rui Faria said “Every other top coach says they work hard and they prepare better than anyone else, but they can’t make what Mourinho does. Everything he does is better. He works harder than anyone else. He knows everything about every player and every game.”

Make the most of emotions – Jose’s relationship with Didier Drogba is legendary. Let me share a few lines (I found it here) from the foreword he wrote for Drogba’s autobiography.

Didier Drogba came into my life in the fifth minute of a Champions League game in Marseille’s mythical Vélodrome. I’d hardly sat down when that giant with the number 11 on his shirt scored. I remember he celebrated that goal like it was his last and he turned an already hostile atmosphere into a fireball of flares, chants and emotion. The crowd went mad, the noise was deafening.

At half-time I found him in the tunnel and told him: ‘I don’t have the money to buy you, but do you have any cousins that can play like you in the Ivory Coast?’ In the middle of this tense qualification game he laughed, hugged me and said: ‘One day you’ll be in a club which can buy me.’

Six months later I signed for Chelsea. I had found a super powerful club which everybody wanted to negotiate with, everybody wanted to be linked to – and everybody wanted to play for. I had a number of options, but I arrived and said: ‘I want Didier Drogba.’ Doubts and questions were raised by a few people: ‘Why this one?’, ‘Why not that one?’, ‘Are you sure he will adapt?’, ‘Is he really that good?’

‘I want Didier Drogba,’ I said.

 A few days passed and I met with Didier in a private airport in London. Again he hugged me, but this time in an unforgettable way: an embrace that showed this man’s gratitude, and the affection he feels towards people who mean a lot to him. Indescribable. Then he told me: ‘Thank you. I will fight for you. You won’t regret it. I will stay loyal to you forever.’ And that’s just what he’s done…

What does a CKO need to be SUCCESSFUL when he gets a Drogba and a Lampard in his team? Not much, I suppose…apart from keeping them engaged and pushing them to newer heights. And who else but Jose can do it with perfection?

Many of the quotes that I have used in this post are from this article. I owe a lot to the article as it has helped me immensely to structure my ideas.



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