The World Cup is about more than soccer. For George Washington University professor and consultant Peter Loge, the most popular sporting event on the planet is also about management. Not management of the teams in the tournament but rather lessons managers and organizations outside of soccer can learn from what some call “the beautiful game.”
The tournament, which is currently happening through to July 15 in Russia, coincides with the release of Peter’s new book Soccer Thinking for Management Success: Lessons for organizations from the world’s game (Changemakers Press, 2018). Scheduled for release on July 28th, the book is available now online and debuted as Amazon’s top selling new sports industry release. As Peter explains it, the premise of soccer thinking is simple: “Successful organizations get systems thinking right, and soccer is 90 minutes of systems thinking in action.”
The tournament, which runs from June 14 through July 15 and takes place in Russia, coincides with the release of Peter’s new book Soccer Thinking for Management Success: Lessons for organizations from the world’s game (Changemakers Press, 2018). Scheduled for release on July 28th, the book is available now online and debuted as Amazon’s top selling new sports industry release. As Peter explains it, the premise of soccer thinking is simple: “Successful organizations get systems thinking right, and soccer is 90 minutes of systems thinking in action.”
In Peter’s view, in the past organizations relied on central command and control to succeed. Information flowed up to a decision maker; the decision maker consulted with key advisors, and pushed a decision back down the chain of command. But global companies that rely on real-time information, and online networks that make the flow of Information instantaneous, can no longer rely on a model that both takes time and misses input from those who do not happen to be in the room when a decision is made. Successful modern companies have clearly define goals, have a strategy to achieve those goals that everyone in the organization understands, and have people expected to work together to make the strategy succeed.
“This is a lot like the concept of ‘total football’,” says Peter, referring to a style of play in which everyone on the team is expected to both attack and defend. “Everyone in the system has their specialty and their role, and they are expected to fulfill that role. But everyone is also expected to back up everyone else – if a defender sees a chance to attack it is up to the forward to drop back and fill the gap.” From his perspective the same is true in organizations. “If the writing team is swamped then managers or researchers need to chip in and proofread, if the phones are ringing answer them.” This is the opposite of the management adage ‘stay in your lane.’ As Peter points out, “staff aren’t racing against each other to meet individual goals, they are working together to achieve a shared goal. Sometimes that means I’m going to get in your lane and lead you, sometimes you need to get in my lane and push me.”
Other key lessons from the book include the importance of constant communication, the need to take breaks when you can so you can be at your best when you need to be, and the value of shared responsibility and distributed leadership.
The book itself is also part of a larger project in which Peter draws lessons from soccer for organizations, managers, and staff. The website for the effort, SoccerThinking.com, features short lessons from Peter and a growing number of others who see soccer as more than 22 people chasing a ball for 90 minutes. He has also been sharing a short slide-deck with key lessons from the book. You can follow all of this on Twitter @ThinkLikeSoccer.
A native of New Haven, Connecticut Peter is an Associate Professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University. He has spent more than two decades working in and around Congress and playing soccer in and around D.C. Peter has served in senior positions for the late Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), and Representatives Sam Coppersmith (D-AZ), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Steve Kagen, MD (D-WI) as was an Obama-appointed Senior Advisor to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, MD. In addition Peter was the founder of Milo Public Affairs and held leadership positions at M+R Strategic Services, the US Institute of Peace, and The Justice Project. As a lobbyist and consultant he has advised clients ranging from American Farmland Trust and America’s Funniest Home Videos to the World Wildlife Fund and WickedCoolStuff.com. Peter is a graduate of Emerson College and earned graduate degrees from Syracuse University and Arizona State University, he is also an Associate Fellow of Timothy Dwight College at Yale University. Peter’s writing has appeared in The Hill, the Drake Law Review, the IJReview and elsewhere, he has been quoted in numerous media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others, and he appears in the documentary film, “Split: A Divided America.” Peter lives in Washington, D.C. and has been a season ticket holder to DC United since the team’s founding.
Soccer Thinking for Management Success: Lessons for organization’s from the world’s game is published by Changemakers Press. The book is scheduled for release on July 27, 2018 and is available for pre-order on Amazon.
Advance praise for Soccer Thinking for Management Success
“Though it may not have been apparent at first, I quickly learned that many of the principles and skills I learned on the soccer field and in the locker room directly applied to my new life in an office, handling and managing some of the brightest people I've ever met. Peter's book seamlessly brings both worlds together and shows just how similar they can be.” - Danny Karbassiyoon, Co-Founder, PLAYRMAKR and Total Soccer: Road to Glory, author of The Arsenal Yankee, first American to score at Arsenal
“You don’t have to be a soccer fan to appreciate the lessons from ‘Soccer Thinking for Management Success.’ This is a fun and interesting read that anyone who manages, or who one day wants to manage, will find helpful.” - Hon. Henry F. De Sio, Jr., 2008 COO of Obama for America and author of Campaign Inc.: How Leadership and Organization Propelled Barack Obama to the White House
“I tell my management students the same thing I tell my soccer teams – communicate, support each other, and hold each other accountable. Peter captures these lessons and more in ways that show how thinking like a soccer player can help professionals succeed.” - Matt Winkler, Director, Sports Analytics & Management, American University and Founder, The Sports Events Marketing Experience (The SEME), youth coach
“’Soccer is war’ Rinus Michels, the famed Dutch soccer coach, once said. Peter Loge doesn't go that far, but offers a highly original take on what business can learn from the addictive stew of tactical genius, technical brilliance and raw emotions that make soccer the world's most beautiful game.” Friso van der Oord, Director of Research, National Association of Corporate Directors; author of Johan Cruyff, the American Years; aging soccer player and lifelong fan.
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