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Collective intelligence in football? 

How the power of crowds applies to everything from work to football


Photo of Gabriella Anesio

Gabriella Anesio

Marketing & Content Specialist

At Mindpool, we talk about why listening to employees in organizations has tremendously positive effects — all from spurring insights and ideas, increasing engagement, and improving business performance. But collective intelligence and the power of crowds is also rooted in a plethora of other areas, football performance being one of them. 


The entire premise of collective intelligence is that the collective has the ability to outperform the individual. This logic happens to apply outstandingly to football. In fact, it has been scientifically proven that the best football teams are those that do not have a few ‘star players’. And why is that? Because the teams that showcase one or two star players tend to foster an unhealthy amount of competition within the team — and that’s the beginning of the end because it creates a so-called ‘destructive dynamic’. 


Research has shown that many of the teams that play the best are those wherein all members participate equally. When all members participate to somewhat of an equal degree, their combined abilities foster outstanding performance which translates into better team dynamics at the end of the day. 


Let’s unpack a very brief example: Iceland’s performance in the Euro 2016 men’s football tournament. Iceland had historically ranked incredibly low, yet in 2016 they managed to reach the championships and bring England to defeat. How? Though there were no star players, as such, the performance of each individual player was top-notch. Not only that, but one of the Iceland national coaches at the time, Heimir Hallgrimsson, put emphasis on one very important thing: working together. In an interview with ESPN at the time of the tournament, he mentioned the following:


“team building is a must for a country like ours. We can only beat the big teams by working as one…We have a guy like Eidur Gudjohnsen who has won the Champions League. He's more or less been a substitute for the last three years, but if he can be a supportive guy on the bench, then who cannot behave in the same way? It just shows how good the mentality is that these guys have”.


Now this is the science behind creating the dream team — be it a team of football players or a team of employees. So whilst this article is not strictly speaking about football per se, it’s about what football can teach us about the power of thinking and working together, utilizing the capacities of the many as opposed to the few. 


This is something to keep in mind as we root for our favorite football teams in the coming weeks (including today, when Denmark is set to play against Australia) — ultimately, success will come to the teams that rally together and don’t only boast and rely on one star player. Every player on the pitch is on the pitch for a reason, just as every employee in a company was hired for a reason; assets and capabilities are dispersed and must be celebrated across the board! 


If you want to follow the Mindpool journey, which we certainly hope you will do, make sure to stay updated with our blog posts, newsletters, and social media platforms – we want to keep you as informed as possible about the world of collective intelligence and all the benefits that come with this. 



You've just read a blog post from Mindpool - a platform that helps you harness the collective intelligence of employees. Mindpool taps into the knowledge of employees to provide actionable predictions and curated insights. Mindpool is rooted in decades of research in collective intelligence. Read more from our resource universe or contact us here if you'd like to tap into the valuable knowledge of your employees.






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