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There’s no connect between football, as in soccer, and innovation – right?

Wrong, according to Innovationfixer (and my apologies for not being able to give an actual name).

The writer’s passionate about sport, particularly football, and loves the use of sporting analogies and aphorisms business. The original article is here.

Heck, even non-basketball players know what “it’s a slam dunk” means.

He (I’m presuming it’s a he) poses and answers the question of why innovation is like football, and it’s a pretty good analogy. Even non-sports people will probably be aware of what he’s talking about.

1. There is a big role to play for disruptive innovation. Real Madrid in the 1950s, Brazil in 1970, the Johan Cruyff turn and Dutch ‘total football’, the current Barcelona team. All these changed the way the game was played, and in most cases won big trophies. Apple and the iPod, mobile phones, the internet, numerous pharmaceuticals – all of these have disrupted and created markets and are famous in their own right

2. However most goals are scored and most games are won with simple, well-practiced and instinctive play. In other word, most business growth comes from incremental innovation, looking after the core business

3. It’s a team game. Innovation is a contact sport that is driven by people who work well together. In companies where innovation is successful, there is strong leadership, talented people intensive training, no complacency and a laser-like focus on results. It’s the same with soccer. The attention may often be on the big names like Steve Jobs and Lionel Messi, but they are nothing without their teams

4. The best teams are highly organised but flexible. They play to a system, but not a rigid one that stifles individual creativity and initiative. They put people in the right positions. They tolerate the right kind of failure. They know their competition and their market place

5. Finally, there’s a chance for everybody, it’s not a guaranteed outcome. Get it right on the day -or in the market place, and you can win

He believes we can learn a lot about innovation by looking at analogous situations, and sport, particularly soccer, is a great place to start.

He leaves with a quote by French writer and philosopher Albert Camus – “all that I know surely about morality and the obligations of man, I owe to football.”

If Camus can derive analogies about morality from soccer, the writer reckons he’s comfortable using it for innovation.

Perhaps we could get him to look at the All Blacks.

Innovative sure, just can’t hold it all together to do it at the World Cup!