There have been pages of newspaper coverage and hours of debate devoted recently to England’s poor performance at the World Cup in South Africa. This has prompted a timely post from guest blogger Rhys Jones of Teamfactor which is also relevant to many business situations:

Inspired by the recent performance of the England Football team, I called to mind a concept I first heard about 10 years ago.

In a football game there are two main groups of people – the players on the pitch, and the spectators in the stands.

It’s great fun being a spectator in the stands. Every spectator is an expert at football strategy and tactics, and can see all the mistakes made by the managers, captains, and players. Every spectator has a perfect understanding of the rules (including the off-side rule) and will draw all mistakes to the attention of the referee. Spectators often join together to chant poetry, sing songs, and to shout helpful advice or abuse. Some of them continue to discuss the game for many hours after the match. People watching football on TV have similar attributes and behaviours.

But being a player on the pitch is a very different matter. Your team colleagues are not always in the best positions; the ball often bounces awkwardly; the pitch maybe slippery; and your opponents frequently do things you don’t expect. As a player, you make mistakes. Everything you do is subject to close examination by spectators who won’t hesitate to offer criticism. It’s not so much fun being a player.

However, players and spectators must remember one simple truth. There is only one way to score goals, and that is to be a player on the pitch!

Are you a team player, or just a spectator?

Rhys Jones

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3 thoughts on “Are you playing on the pitch?

  • 1st July 2010 at 10:10

    So True, Rhys

    Totally agree that the game can only be won on the pitch.

    However the came will not be won by scoring goals alone, by giving away too many goals it can be lost.

    It can also be lost by not knowing or by breaking the rules.
    Do the spectators play any role?

    Very definitely. After all, they are the customers and, surprisingly perhaps, the view from the stands can often offer a better perspective on the game, and opportunities to win or avoid loss, than can be had from the field.

    So, yes, play the came on the field, but remember:

    It requires more than goal scorers to win. It requires a whole team + officials + perspective + spectators!


  • 1st July 2010 at 10:51


    Many thanks for your comment and you make very valid points.

    I sometimes use this analogy when I am working with a team, particularly if some team members are semi-detached and are more interested in sniping at their colleagues than getting on with the work.

    It is a simplistic message, but it can help to make a point.

    PS If my comment shows up as being from Photo Maestro, it’s because I have a WordPress account for my other business!

  • 2nd July 2010 at 07:47

    Ah! This has made me work out how to display my name properly in WordPress!


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