Using Barcelona’s dynamic attacking trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar as the example, PDP Lead Researcher, James Vaughan examines the impact of a positive organisational culture. How do we create value driven organisations that allow creativity and a shared understanding to thrive, both on and off the field?

Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr and Luis Suarez are the attacking trident spearheading FC Barcelona’s charge towards a 2015 treble. They looked unstoppable in their Champions League demolitions of Manchester City, PSG and Bayern Munich. Tormenting defenders, each member of the terrible trio appears to be reading from a playbook the opposition cannot decipher. They see patterns, assess options and imagine possibilities at a speed beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. This ‘holy trinity’ is worshipped around the world, but is it their South American origins that hold the key to their unearthly perceptual skill? Our earliest experiences are crucial for developing our mindset.

For Messi, Neymar and Suarez their mindsets were shaped on the fertile soils of South America. Constantly engaged in play, their minds have been primed to interpret information that remains hidden to most: subtle shifts in body weight; knee and hip angles; spatial patterns; the trajectory, spin, roll and the speed of the ball and much more. Combine all this perceptual information with imaginative thought processes and the stage is set for the creative decision-making and unique combinations of skill that delight the masses and keep Messi, Suarez and Neymar several steps ahead.

This article explores the role mindset plays in shaping a collective, creative understanding. We explore why a collective understanding is essential for developing creativity and we investigate what this means, both on and off the football pitch. Off the pitch we consider the role our cultural conditioning plays in our development. Particularly how dominant values create the expectations that can control us and shape our mindset. Finally we discover how a mindset shaped off the pitch influences the playing styles we see on the pitch. Specifically how early development environments shape the perceptual landscape and the ‘cognitive battle’ between players. This article aims to show that expectations reinforced in the boardroom infiltrate the boot room and transition onto the pitch.

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James Vaughan
James Vaughan
James Vaughan is a Co-founder of Player Development Project and currently based in Stockholm where he is coaching at AIK and working towards his PhD in Creativity & Motivation in Football.
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