Communication – Lessons from a boys football game

0 Posted by - May 23, 2011 - Blog, Leadership, Skills & Tools

It was one of those rare 30 degrees C, grey cloudy days in Bahrain as I sat and watched my son play after school footie. The young lads jostled, tumbled, puffed and panted with full expression as they pounded up and down the field tirelessly after the ball.


My PM mind began wondering and drawing parallels with adults and project team dynamics back in the office. The referee, alias the Project Sponsor, was pacing up and down eyes fixated on the boys, blowing his whistle as and when making the ultimate decisions whether popular or not between warring teams screaming at each other in disagreement. This was a familiar boardroom site!!


The warm breeze was filled with the frantic waving and jumping of wide-eyed adolescents proactively calling out to their teammates to pass to them. To my football ignorant mind this was all a bit amusing but a very effective and successful form of communication. This was communication at its rawest basic grunts and gestures! Perfectly simple and legible to they’re teammates and most importantly producing results for the team doing the more frantic gesturing.


Again my mind wondered this time to ponder on how in this day and age we are so blessed with plentiful communication in the form of experts, training, tools, techniques and all at our disposal. However, despite being educated & skilled adults, they can work in the same office for the same project and FAIL TO COMMUNICATE. Some insist on using complex, beauracratic and awkward ways of passing information and then wonder why they are plagued with problems or wonder why team members ‘Just don’t get it!


What is crystal clear is that us sophisticated adults still have problems communicating. Surely the lesson to learn from these boys is be proactive and eager in wanting to be understood, keep communication basic and simple for all to understand and hence ‘the ball will keep moving’ and highly probably in the right direction.


Keeping with moving balls, it was clear the winning teams strategy was to do just this, the boys took the ball moved it safely and passed it on quickly and cleanly. How many of us have faced team members who forget they are in a team and insist on holding on to vital information or knowledge whether out of ignorance or selfishness?


I made a mental note that in my next PM training seminar on the subject of  ‘Teams’ I will make a point of focusing on ‘keeping it moving’ no slacking, pass it on!!

Listen to everyone in your company and figure out ways to get them talking.
Sam M. Walton (1918-92) US entrepreneur and founder of Wal-Mart.


When the target is hit, the deadline met and signed off and in this instance the goal scored there was the all important shoulder pats and lift shirt up laps of joy, this was true recognition for a job well done.

If its important enough it will be followed up with a more formal approach, but the starting point will always be looking into peoples eyes and telling them the way it is.
Ron Dennis British entrepreneur and formula 1 motor racing team owner. Quoted in The Adventure Capitalists (Jeff Grout and Lynne Curry: 1998)

1 Comment

  • Khalid Fakhouri June 24, 2011 - 6:37 am Reply

    It is always down to simple communication.

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