Sunday, 25 November 2007

How Gullible is the English Football Association?

photo Brian Barwick Chief Executive of the English FA November 2007

In order for organisations to adapt and change they need to flexible and open systems. There seems to be some indication that the English FA is incapable of re-shaping itself to suit expectations and circumstances.

A couple of notions that might throw some light on why this might be the case can be found with the Law of Requisite Variety and the idea of vMEMES from the Spiral Dynamics approach to Leadership and Change.

It seems to me that the organisation of English Football represents a classic case of 'recruiting in ones own likeness' The ideal role and the ideal person are assumed to be a particular and familiar type and that unless someone fits the type they are not on the radar. The problem with that is that you end up with what I call French Teacher syndrome. This is where French Teachers teach French to students who learn French to become Teachers of French who...etc etc. Any organisation will stagnate if its thinking becomes homogenous and there is not sufficient redundancy (sorry Mr McClaren I'm talking about a different of redundancy here) in the system to allow for adaptation. What hope does the organisation have if it is locked in a highly modernist mind-set?

A key notion of the Spiral Dynamics approach is that the vMEME (value meme) we possess both determines how we make sense of the world and determines the solutions we believe are appropriate for challenges and problems we face. Each vMEME is colour coded and symbolises a particular world view. In the case of the FA it seems that it is what Beck and Cowan call a first tier combination of red,BLUE,orange vMEMES. With Blue being the dominant meme. This memetic view celebrates hierarchy, rules, order, and codices and seeks to implement 'systems' and ranks that manage the 'good' and the 'bad'. Just take a look at their their website through the eyes of Spiral Dynamics and you'll see what I mean. Sections of Structure, sections of Organisation etc etc loom large.

So what would I do you ask? Well I would seek out some second tier yellow vMEME thinking. Then I would make sure that the managing agenda was about developing thinking skills. This would transcend and include the obsession with technical and systems skills.

Crucially I would give the players total responsibility for the competitive shape of the team not just the responsibility for enacting the tactics on the day. At the moment they have a 'get-out' in that they are excused responsibility for the tactical assessment and countering of the competition. Talented musicians operate beyond the technical; our footballers should be allowed to do the same. The Coach should become a facilitator of the teams competitive sense-making, and the support resources to enable them to do their job. Yellow vMeme thinking would also avoid being gullible and having misplaced expectations on managerialist tools to deliver results. Flex and Flow would become the dominant conversation in the locker room, NOT the mechanised and bureaucratised, talk of marking zones, channels, systems, and units. Significantly a move to second tier thinking would see a breaking free from the obsession with details and the belief that the more senior the game the more complex the game becomes, through to the 'simplicity beyond the complexity'. In other words re-discovering that the game is simply about scoring more goals than the opposition.

Essentially I would facilitate a move beyond the dominant BLUE mindset that encourages and in its darker form demands undue deference to authority and tool the players up to articulate against the failings of prevailing management mind-set. Competence should take precedence over Position.

1 comment:

  1. Should there be a Salary Cap in Football?
    Personally I think there should be! It’s just getting to be stupid money in football at the top of the premiership!
    It’s always the same teams at the top proving that football success is based purely on money which ruins the idea of it being a sport! They’ve done it in rugby, basketball, hockey and American football and it makes the sports more competitive and better to watch!
    I do a little Spread Betting from time to time and most matches don’t hold much surprise who is going to win, its boring! I want to see a team at the bottom pulling off an amazing season beating last seasons winners in a close fought battle!
    Make things fair! It shouldn’t be about money!
    All there is all that money in the premiership and barely any of it stays in the UK so it’s not even helping the economy!
    From my Spread Betting, if I ever win big (which is never, I’m unlucky) it’s still nothing compared to the average premiership players weekly wage!
    This Rant was brought to you by Spread Betting Spike.