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What football tells us about team collaboration

Submitted by on Friday, 9 August 2013No Comment

What football tells us about team collaboration

If you work in teams – especially in Asia – and need to get the best out of people while delivering results, you will all-too-often be confronted with a situation in the second diagram below. Take a look:

What football tells us about team collaborationTo some Asian managers, diagram 2 shows the norm of communication patterns in their team. And to both manager and employee alike, this may appear to be all well and good.

Yet it’s this kind of communication pattern that causes problems in companies. Where the first communication pattern illustrates a varied and wide-ranging dialogue common in a participative meeting, the second pattern shows a more directive and hierarchical approach.

Here are just some of the typical issues that we have found arise if the second communication pattern continues without being addressed:

· a lack of understanding what is happening at the front line (important!)

· a probable lack of team commitment and employee engagement

· a lack of collaboration among team members and probably even co-ordination

·  a lack of idea generation and innovation

·  (probably) a lack of trust.

Play the Barcelona way…

It can be very difficult to change these kind of deeply-ingrained behaviours. One tactic we use on our Five Star Teams programme is to encourage participants to link ‘teamwork’ with a game of football.

Specifically, to contrast the ‘old’ style of football played by the traditional England side like this…

What football tells us about team collaboration

…with the highly collaborative passing style played under Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona. (In some cases, we set this up as a team vs team simulation to change the directive behaviour into a collaborative one Head-Heart-Hand).

As we all know, the last England manager to play such ‘route one’ (directive) football – Steve McLaren – was sacked!

The play’s the thing…

Teamwork at its zenith is and should be about play. It should be fun! Football offers a great analogy for many serious business situations because all the actors, strateges, moves and passes are visible.

If you are faced with this or similar challenges in your company, be sure to check out Five Star Teams – or drop us a line via our online form here.


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