For those watching the World Cup, it’s obvious to see key differences between futbol on the world stage and football of the more provincial American style. The latter is a start and stop affair where huddles occur before every play with each player told where to run, where block, what to do. Much of the time, the strategy is to instruct the team in a way that applies the most force at a given point on the field to gain advantage over the opponent. Conformity to the plan and expert execution is of primary importance. Individual invention, save in very small measure, is of little concern. The team is a machine. The player a cog.
Futbol, on the other hand, is an entirely different affair. There are no huddles. There are very few plays. There is an overarching strategy but it is left to small groups of individual players to orchestrate the execution of that strategy moment-by-moment by responding to their particular situation at a particular time in a particular way.
While this difference and the few number of goals that result during the run of play leads to the particular American criticism that nothing ever happens in soccer except 90 minutes of running around, it provides the capacity for moments of true inventive brilliance by individual players in combination that produce entirely unexpected results. This is, in part, what earns it the nickname “the beautiful game.”
To be sure, the impossibly looping assist made in this clip by Andrés Iniesta, Spanish international, for his club team Barcelona would never have been drawn up by a coach and executed by design. It is a moment of pure invention by an individual in concert with his teammates that alters the entire landscape of the situation in a flash and produces a goal:
The difference in the strategic approaches of the games has been noticed in unexpected places, most notably by the United States military. Earlier last decade, an article appeared in the Armed Forces Journal entitled Football vs. soccer: American warfare in an era of unconventional threats which advocated a shift in metaphor from football to soccer as a way of conceptualizing and preparing for conflict. Conformity to a system and application of overwhelming force to a given situation was less important than fostering innovation and competence in small groups to respond to individual circumstances in the moment.
So it is with the nonprofit space. It is not overwhelming force or adherence to a rigid defined strategy that sparks social change and alters the status quo for our most intractable problems. It is invention. It is passion. It is small groups collaborating in new, unforeseen ways that can alter the entire landscape of the situation in a flash and produce a goal.
If the technology tools so vital to scaling any effort, nonprofit or otherwise, are to be truly effective in their role, they must support invention and creativity for groups of individuals responding to their particular situation at a particular time in a particular way.
Of all the good reasons for leveraging the power of Salesforce to empower nonprofit organizations, this capacity for invention and creativity may very well be the most vital. Salesforce allows for the empowerment of each organization in its own particular way to meet its own particular mission within its own particular situation through a flexible platform that can be customized and extended as needed.
As a community, the greater emphasis that can be put on these elements of the platform, the more vibrant and more effective the community will be. Educating nonprofit Salesforce administrators to do for themselves with the tools at their disposal. Empowering nonprofit organizations to bring to market their own packaged proven solutions for their particular verticals. Encouraging more community involvement in the ongoing development of the Nonprofit Starter Pack. Fostering a more vibrant ecosystem of apps on the AppExchange to respond to various verticals and varied models of intervention. Identifying and championing compelling and effective nonprofit use cases and implementations to inspire and inform others. These foster innovation and play to the greatest strengths of the Salesforce platform.
Fostering an empowered, educated community which can move beyond the standard challenges to further their own particular mission is critical. That is transformational. That is world changing. That is a beautiful game.