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Management lessons from the soccer field March 16, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Business, Management, Soccer.
1 comment so far

I recently took my teen aged son to a baseball practice at an indoor arena. At the same location and time there was a soccer game taking place. As I watched the soccer game I was reminded of many of the characteristics of a good team, both in athletics and in business.

The soccer players each had specific roles or positions they played. While they had clearly defined roles, they also worked fluidly and occassionally helped each other out and covered other player’s positions when needed. At one point the goalie moved way out of the goal and another player automatically move in front of the goal. THAT’S the way a department should work! I didn’t hear anyone say, “that’s not my job” or “who do you think you are doing my job” and they all worked together to accomplish a common purpose.

They also talked all of the time. They were constantly calling out to teammates and communicating either warnings (or opposing team members’ presence) or opportunities to pass or score. They anticipated things and then talked to their teammates to make sure everyone knew the situation and had a heads up on what could happen. It was easy to apply that kind of communication to a healthy work environment.

There was an expectation that each person would pull their weight and perform their very best. And, when the ball was passed from person to person there was a trust between players. Skills were needed at both the individual level and they had to rely on each other and work together to score.

We’ve all heard that a well run organization takes teamwork, but watching a skilled and high performing soccer team really drove home to me the importance of each person doing their part and understanding their role but being flexible enough to fluidly help out in other roles as needed and then go back to their primary role when they were done. To do that there must be a high level of trust and respect between team members.

The final thing I noticed, which is very true of a workplace team, is that players were changed out from time to time. Right now, I’ve got two team members that I need to hire and so it’s important that I find the people with the right skills and ability to be a true team player in order to have a well run department.


Soccer makes the world a little smaller June 10, 2006

Posted by Matsu in Family, News and politics, Random, Soccer, World Cup.

World Cup Soccer FlagsThis evening I ran out to the grocery store. Nearby is a pizza place called L.A. Gourmet Pizza. It has great pizza. It's a small place run by several Middle Eastern men. They are very nice people and when I wait for my pizza I see they are hard working and seem to enjoy what they do.

When I drove by the pizza place I was amused to see a few of the employees out in the parking lot playing a pickup game of soccer. I could not help but be reminded of the fact that the World Cup Soccer tournament started yesterday. Seeing that group made me feel like the world was a lot smaller than it used to be.

World Cup South AfricaThere is something about sports, whether it's the Olympic games or world cup soccer, that unites people. Of course, with national teams it makes people a lot more patriotic as they rally behind their flag.

I smiled as I drove home, thinking about how much fun those pizza guys were having as they played their favorite sport between world cup soccer matches. Yes, they had a television in the pizza shop and they were watching world cup soccer coverage. I could not help but feel a connection to them just knowing that they were celebrating an international soccer tournament. It was strange, but a good feeling.

The next world cup is in 2010. It will be held in South Africa.