“More than a club” reads the slogan of the FC Barcelona, Barcelona’s beloved football team, also known simply as ‘Barca.’ Currently the best football team in the world, insiders say Barca might be the greatest team in the history of the sport (which is no short-order, the rules were drafted in a London pub in 1863). Some believe that many of the dance-like plays will be viewed with “artistic delight” not just in the coming decades, but centuries from now. The current team is playing its best game ever, having won 14 of the possible 19 trophies. But what makes Barca so good? Bob Simon of CBS News and producer Michael Gavshon have uncovered a story of success that applies beyond sport: a powerful idea for businesses who should increasingly think of themselves as ‘more than a business.’ Three great lessons from the Barca:
Stay close to your fans
“Barca has changed from what was once something of a neighbourhood club to a global franchise. It boasts the second highest grossing Nike store in the world, worth an estimated $1.3b (USD).” Its owners? The fans. Not some rich mogul. “It's a not for profit owned by the club's members—170 000 of them. Each one with a vote.”
Nurture your identity
The secret of Barca might be its youth academy, La Masia, which recruits boys often no more than seven years old, gives them a rigorous education and teaches them Barca's unique way of playing the game. Located right across from Camp Nou, the cathedral of football, ‘The Farmhouse’ is the place where players get to know each other by living, studying and playing alongside one another. Forging a culture of ‘live, breathe football,’ the children grow up in a highly structured environment that breeds athletic excellence. Today, 17 of the 25 players on Barca's first team came through the system, at times all 11 players on the field were graduates of the academy. Many of them have played together since childhood. They know each other's moves. When they pass, there's always someone there to receive because there's always been someone there. They’re building a lineage of soccer royalty, echoed right down to the the name-plated lockers of each generation of players as they greet the next, reminding them of the cleats they have to fill.
Aim for agility
The team plays a style called ‘tiki-taka’ which is characterised by short passing and movement, not just going forward, but also backwards and sideways. Sharp and crisp. A departure from the traditional thinking of formations in football to a concept derived from zonal play, tiki-taka is, above all, a systems approach to football founded upon team unity and a comprehensive understanding of the geometry of space on the football field.