What Year Was The Forward Pass Introduced To Football Coordination – The Way Lionel Messi Does

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Coordination – The Way Lionel Messi Does

Deciphering the Messiah:

According to Henri Fayol’s theory of business administration, along with organizing, monitoring and controlling, coordination is one of the central functions of management. The term ‘coordination’ in this theory implies that managers must harmonize the rules and activities performed by the organization. This, in turn, means that each activity of each unit of the organization should complement and enrich the work of another.

In operational terms, coordination means “arranging the various elements of a complex body or activity to enable them to work effectively together.” Coordination can also mean “the ability to use different parts of an organization together smoothly and effectively to ensure more efficient use of the organization’s resources in achieving its specified goals.”

I believe that coordination as a management function has received much less attention than it deserves from practitioners, researchers, academics and management itself. The term ‘coordination’ is more familiar in relation to the supply chain or the production or sales function based on the nature of their activities.

I was tempted to write this article based on a recent FIFA update published in the Times of India on July 5, 2014. It stated that Lionel Messi is the third most prolific distributor of passes in the game and the primary goalscorer in his team. For the information of the readers, Messi generally plays in a very advanced position on the right wing, very much like a striker.

As well as the central functions of management, there are five key skills required for a footballer. They are first touch, dribbling, passing, kicking and one-on-one play. Addition is similar to coordination. It determines how many scoring chances a team can create, how often the team possesses the ball, and how quickly the team can progress up the field. Without strength in passing ability, the team will quickly find themselves more “out of possession” than “in possession”.

Messi’s completed forward passes are the highest among Argentine players. Out of a total of 11,120 passes he made, he succeeded 84% of the time. What is the success ratio? When to pass the ball to a particular team member is decided in a microsecond and this requires a comprehensive understanding of the ‘live’ situation on the pitch. What Messi essentially does is efficient and effective coordination and the results are so clear.

Business coordination and management:

I find a great similarity between the skill of coordination in business management and the skill of passing in a football game. If we go a little deeper, then we will find that coordination is in fact the most common thread that cuts through all management and supervisory functions. The more managers and supervisors master the skill of coordination; the better their performance or performance, and therefore, the better the organization’s performance.

Like communication, coordination is also a built-in aspect of day-to-day business management and, if neglected, can lead to problems. An efficient and well-defined coordination process gives credibility to the roles of employees and predictability to the functioning of the organization.

The text that follows attempts to outline the practical details of the skill of coordination with three specific instances for managers and supervisors to highlight its importance.

Information / Data Coordination:

This is the most common type of coordination that every employee understands. Information and data are the software for the decision-making process at every stratum in the organization.

Who will receive what information? How much information will employees keep and how much will be forwarded and to whom? How will information move forward, backward and sideways? When will the information be forwarded? How fast will information flow and through which medium? Who will keep what information for how long? What information will move faster and to whom? What types of information/data should be kept for legal and other purposes? What is the procedure for downloading information/data? What type of enterprise system is best for business?

This is about the formal coordination of information throughout the organization by said employees to make sure that everyone gets the right information in the right quantity to make the necessary decisions at the right time. Managers and supervisors must have full understanding and control of information coordination pathways. We often encounter recurring situations where a particular task could not be completed because the employee concerned either failed to convey or provide vital information or withheld it for inexplicable reasons.

Project coordination:

Most organizations establish Coordination Cells for larger projects. Such cells are usually part of the office of the president or director. Such an arrangement signifies the importance given to the coordination process for the execution of the project as planned.

On a routine basis, how will the resources (manpower, material, financial, etc.) come and who will coordinate? Who will be the site project coordinator and to whom will they report? What kind of setting is necessary to solve interdisciplinary questions? Who will coordinate with government agencies? How often will review meetings be held and who will participate? What new or more skills are needed to carry out the project? Who will take care of the efficient procurement of materials and services? Who are the reserve team members?

These are several critical points that the Coordinating Body decides before or together with the start of the project. In the realization of a project, nothing can be left to chance and therefore such cells are a prerequisite, especially in organizations dealing with resources. Project coordination is also about visualizing different scenarios and preparing a plan for each.

Emergency coordination:

Organizations have emergency management plans or business emergency plans for different purposes. For example, an evacuation plan in the event of an earthquake or fire or a data recovery plan when a host server is damaged or a natural disaster or disaster management plan. The purpose of such plans is to ensure the least damage to property and human life and business continuity.

The execution of such plans is similar to a football game in terms of the speed of decision-making because the time available to manage emergencies is always less than necessary. All business standards such as OSHA, ISO, IMS, etc. and various legal statutes mandate that such plans be properly documented, properly approved by management, communicated to all concerned employees, shared with relevant government agencies when necessary, and periodically reviewed.


For effective coordination, the organization must turn all managers and supervisors into Lionel Messi. Each manager will then compete to be the most effective coordinator or ‘passer of the ball’. Because of his agility and clarity of direction, Messi took the ball to the goal post on many occasions. This implies that managers and supervisors, to be effective coordinators, must have clarity of purpose, agility, knowledge of peer capabilities, appreciation of dynamic business situations, knowledge of adversary strengths and weaknesses, and, most importantly, the ability to put interpersonal issues aside while ‘ the game is on’.

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