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The office World Cup sweep stake
The office World Cup sweep stake - for BAs

Yes, it’s that time again. It’s time to hang up my Panini wall chart (carefully stored with my sticker album and car flags) and organise the office World Cup sweep stake.    

For those not familiar with the noble tradition of the office sweep stake, this is the time when you and your colleagues pay a small fee (£3 each in our case), draw the name of a country out of a hat and, in doing so, give yourself the opportunity, if you're very lucky, to win a princely cash sum (usually just about enough cash to purchase celebratory cakes for your colleagues) or a bottle of something fizzy. 

Sounds simple doesn't it? However, when you work with a group of business analysts the methodology behind the draw can come under intense scrutiny. In our office, the conversation soon turned to analysing sweep stake strategy and the best process to adopt. The questions started with: "Can I choose when I enter the draw and then pay my stake?" "How do we decide who draws first?" "Should we create a decision rule?"

As we know, stakeholder management can be a tricky business and my challenge was to conduct a sweep stake draw that would keep a community of analysts happy - at least with the process if not with the outcome. On reflection, a RACI analysis might have been a good idea here!

After further probing - using a range of tried and tested investigation techniques (of course!) - I discovered more about sweep stake protocol. Crucially everyone must pay their entry fee before picking their team. The odds of success or failure change once the draw has started, e.g. if, after most teams are taken, Brazil, Argentina and Spain are still in the hat, those still to draw have a greatly improved chance of success. Conversely, if Brazil, Argentina and Spain are already selected before you draw you would be better off saving your money until 2022 - unless of course you are an incredible optimist and England are still in the hat! If you require a belt and braces approach you can conduct a draw to decide the order in which you and your colleagues take part, but the key thing is that no one should be allowed to enter or leave the process after it has started. 

I like the idea that BAs will look for any opportunity to think strategically, re-evaluate long established processes, identify different scenarios, aim to gain commercial advantage and challenge authority with good humour. These are skills and qualities we should continually look to exercise as we question and shape change.  However, when it comes to a correctly run World Cup sweep stake I must advise all BAs that, when the onion of probability is peeled right back, you have as much chance of picking out Brazil, Panama or even England first as you do last.

Enjoy the footy. Over the next 4 weeks there will be plenty of selections, formations and tactics requiring your analysis!  

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