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Edge: What Business Can Learn from Football Hardcover – 7 Sep 2017
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‘I devoured this. Lyttleton's journey to the fringes of sporting thought, greedily absorbing innovations as he goes, translates into a pacy, thought-provoking work that reveals just how nuanced sporting – and indeed business – success is in the modern world. The insight into born leaders such as Didier Deschamps, who flex their style rather than their authority, is compelling, as too are the regular reminders of the capacity for old-fashioned qualities such as cohesion and resilience to trump skill and potential. Are enough businesses playing the equivalent of head-up football with their talent and resources? They may start to after reading this.’ – Duncan Craig, Sunday Times
‘A fascinating look at the approaches of some of European football's most impressive clubs – as well as some overachieving underdogs. Lyttleton eschews tired clichés, and instead challenges the consensus to present a fascinating insight into the intricacies of running a modern football club’ – Michael Cox, author of The Mixer
‘The most captivating football book I have read. The detailed insight from the game's biggest names is fascinating and each chapter left me feeling inspired and motivated.’ Dean Jones, Bleacher Report
‘Remarkable access to some of the biggest names in football – a tour of the game’s new thinking, written up with great fluency.’ – Simon Kuper, Contributor, Financial Times
‘Full of fascinating ideas – this book make will make you think!’ – Wim Jonk, Cruyff Football
‘A fascinating read … Inspiring for anyone who wants to learn how to be successful.' – Marcus Christenson, The Guardian
'Anyone looking to improve themselves as well as others should read this book.’ – Alex Inglethorpe, Liverpool FC Academy Director
‘If you want to be a coach, manager or successful company director, you should read Edge as it’s inspiring and will give you tips from those who have done it' – Petr Cech
About the Author
Ben Lyttleton is a football writer, broadcaster and director of Soccernomics. He is also the author of Twelve Yards: The Art and Psychology of the Perfect Penalty, and Football School: Where Football Explains the World, a series written to encourage children’s literacy.
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I was more interested in the football application rather than in reading about the business side and as a
supporter of a team in Brentford who have prided themselves in thinking out of the box in order to make a small budget stretch as far as possible I found the contents original and invaluable.
I am sure that at least some of the more hidebound clubs might be shaken out of their lethargy of they take the time and trouble to read this book - but somehow I doubt if they will bother.
Some of the chapters are interesting in a footballing sense - that at least four of the interviewees stress the fundamental importance of 'seeing the picture' before receiving the ball is powerful (and highlights one of the major failings with the English game). But how that is going to 'help business' I have absolutely no idea.
And that's really the major issue I have with the book - it's been very well researched and is very deep on detail. But the fundamental 'lessons' that emerge as the solutions really don't transpose to business. The two subjects have been shoe-horned to provide a link when, in reality, that association (as presented) is tenuous at best, and onerous at worst.
As a football book - it's useful. But that's really as far as it goes, for me.
In my view the book feels like a series of articles with a methodology bolted onto them rather than a simple, scientific and entirely convincing formula that you can apply but there's plenty in here to inspire a company CEO. If the book were a footballer perhaps it would be no Messi but it would be a solid James Milner.
The book’s aim is to discover how certain teams or individuals in football have gone about getting an “edge” – “a competitive advantage” – and then how that can be applied in the business world. “Edge” is broken down into five aspects, a chapter covering each: Cohesion, Adaptability, Decision-making, Resilience and Creativity.
The book starts at Athletic Club de Bilbao and focuses on their Basque-only policy. In today’s global football world they restrict their player pool to an area with the population of 3 million making them different and an interesting case study. In fact I thought all the case studies in this book were good picks. Even controversial clubs like RB Leipzig are not overlooked. They do it a different way, which everyone may not appreciate, and so it makes them a good case study to look at.
I enjoyed the football but I don’t know so much how I would relate this to a non-football business if I needed to as some of the stuff in here doesn’t seem transferable. For example looking around more on the pitch makes you a better player because you have a better picture in your head of where you can put the ball when you get it. This is then likened to preparing for a meeting in the business world which is something I do already.
Talking of business people there are plenty of references to where the research used can be obtained from throughout the text (although the one piece of research I wanted to see, “research that showed the best chance of scoring is within eight seconds of winning back the ball”, was not referenced).
So overall I enjoyed the football, less so the business parts.