What FC Barcelona can teach us about Business Agility

FC Barcelona embody agile principles.

1. Less dependencies, less specialisation. Agile tackles complexity and inter-dependencies.

For traditional football teams, this means that players are highly specialised playing in a particular position. All the players need to be in just the right place, at the right time. There are lots of inter-dependencies.

For Barcelona, most of the team can play in different positions. If one player has an opportunity to attack, he can take it, knowing that someone else will fill his place.

2. Collaboration. Barcelona are all about passing. They emphasise the importance of playing as a team. It’s not about individuals or egos. (Contrast that to with Real Madrid’s Galacticos).

Barca’s style, rooted in Total Football, echoes agile’s self-organising teams. According to Wikipedia, Total Football “developed organically and collaboratively: it was not down to coach Rinus Michels, his successor Stefan Kovacs or Cruyff alone.”

3. Goals come from lots of short, quick, precision passes. This echoes agile’s focus on short, highly-focused iterations.

4. When it comes to players: Size doesn’t matter, talent matters. In agile, it’s not the size of a company or it’s resources that matter. It’s talent that matters.

The majority of Barca’s team has been nurtured via it’s academy system.

5. Simplicity. Yohan Cruyff, the godfather of Barca’s style, said “Simple football is the most beautiful. But playing simple football is the hardest thing.”

6. It’s about sustainable profit, not short-term profit. Barca are profitable and also have a very robust business model. Every football fan wants to watch them. Every player wants to play for them.


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