Business Intelligence Teams Could Learn Something From Barcelona Football

Just came across a brief but interesting article looking at how the top ranked Barcelona Football Club has handled some tricky management issues, one of which is particularly common to the business intelligence team: determining whether to hire outside talent or develop internal candidates.

Three of the last four companies I’ve worked for have had a particularly difficult time hiring data architects/business intelligence professionals.  There was a nonstop string of phone screens and in-person interviews, always seeking to identify the perfect candidate, the “A player”, who can “hit the ground running”, and immediately “provide value”.  On the rare occasions when one of these superstars was found and then successfully landed, their time with the company tended to be short lived, approximately 1 year, usually leaving for another opportunity.

The Economist article points out that on the Barcelona team:

Eight of the team’s leading players are products of its football school, La Masia… La Masia is unique among football schools. It is a boarding school that puts as much emphasis on character-training as on footballing skills. The students are relentlessly instructed in the importance of team spirit, self-sacrifice and perseverance.

Reading the article I immediately begin to wonder how successful some of my former business intelligence teams could have been if, expending large amounts of energy and time looking for the external “golden child”, they had instead focused on grooming one of their own for the position.  Someone who already had a high level of company/product knowledge so critical for BI and who with some additional of technical training could become the ideal candidate we were looking for with the built in bonus of some additional loyalty to the company based on the career advancement that was provided.

The full article can be found on The Economist website here.

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