Soccer and Mesh Networking

June 21, 2010 at 12:37 PM 1 comment

I played soccer last Saturday morning, first time in 30 years or so. Blame it on World Cup Fever.

What I was reminded of, apart from where my pain points are, was how much I enjoyed the collaborative nature of soccer.

Sports are metaphors of our cultural values. Baseball came of age in the beginning of industrial society, as a way to maintain connection with agrarian life. Here was a game that came and went with the seasons, in which the only clock was the sun.

I grew up in Cleveland, a football town. Why did Cleveland follow football (American football, that is)? Because Cleveland was a steel town, and football was made to order for the factory mindset. The goal of football is to control the field – knock the other guys out of the way to create a space in which to catch the pass and run. Industries like steel, meanwhile, were seeking to control the value chain, from raw material to finished product. Management and unions struggled for the ball and control of the field.

So where does soccer fit in?

Soccer is a network. You can pass to anyone else in order to optimize your team’s chances of a goal. While a batter engages the pitcher in a splendid mindgame, and the football player follows a complex playbook, the soccer player is continually asking, “how do we move together to make this work?”

To put it in IT terms, the players are nodes on a fully-connected mesh network. The paradigm for this is the wireless network, in which nodes are continually connecting and reconfiguring to fix broken pathways, or sidestep blocked ones.

That’s what’s great about soccer – it’s the closest model for how we’re getting things done these days.


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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Mike Geary Truth About Abs  |  June 28, 2010 at 4:46 AM

    Losing is like vanilla ice cream. But winning is like your favorite ice cream with a topping. Even if you loose you still get to play the game… but winning is much better!


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Thompson Morrison

Thompson Morrison

About Thompson

As CEO of FUSE Insight, Thompson Morrison uses powerful new web interviewing technologies to help businesses better align their brand with the needs and aspirations of their customers. Learn more at


"The single most significant strategic strength that an organization can have is not a good strategic plan, but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization." -- Tom Peters



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