They just didn’t perform today (football, management and complexity)

What does complexity look like? How many nodes are at work at any one time? I thought I’d have a little fun while waiting to fly back to the UK after 4 weeks of advisory work in the US, and try and use a football game to answer the question.

If you have ever watched a team sporting event with an expectation of a result – e.g. a team that surely has to win and win well – then you have surely been left feeling deflated, as, “they justs didn’t perform today”. For my sins, I am a Liverpool fan and on far too many occasions over the last 20 years I have been left to wonder what on Earth is going on.

The following is a match day node map for a single player – remember that all 22 players will have similar interacting maps (this has been quickly pulled together as an example and I am sure that you could add to this).

So, what did cause that poor performance?

So, what did cause that poor performance?

Now, ask yourself, is it any wonder why you can’t predict a team’s performance for any given day. Is it any wonder that firm performance (decision-making/problem-solving) is so difficult to predict. Good managers seem to be able to manage the whole. They manage boundary sensory and response systems to minimise impact on performance. But, even then, the system is so complex that the outcome just cannot be guaranteed.

That simple.