How “The Lasso Way” can help us move towards thriving in complexity

The Lasso Way

27th Annual SAG Awards / Contributor via Getty Images

Like many people, I love Ted Lasso. And the best part is if you’re absorbing “The Lasso Way” while you’re chuckling along, you’re on the right track to begin thriving in complexity.

If you’ve been living under a rock, “The Lasso Way” is the coaching philosophy of Ted Lasso, the main character in the TV series of the same name. Ted is a small-time American college football coach hired to manage a Premier League soccer team in England, despite knowing nothing about the game of soccer.

“The Lasso Way” emphasises positivity, kindness, process, relationships, and diversity.

I’ve previously shared how the Cynefin framework can be used to help make sense of a situation so you can understand when you’re in a complex situation and make better decisions.

“The Lasso Way”, reflects many elements of the Cynefin framework (explained in this blog). It emphasises experimentation and exploration over analysis and expertise when dealing with complex situations. It also emphasises taking immediate action when necessary, such as when a player needs support after failing.

Just like when Roy Kent injures his knee and is told he may never play soccer again. Ted visits Roy in hospital and tells him he’s not just a soccer player – he’s a leader and a mentor. Ted encourages Roy to take on a coaching role while he’s recovering, which helps Roy regain his confidence.

By valuing personal development over winning, “The Lasso Way” also acknowledges there’s sometimes uncertainty about which approach to use and encourages sense-making to determine the best course of action.

The Lasso Way

As Ted would say, “Be curious, not judgmental.” When the situation is uncertain, stay open-minded and gather information from different perspectives before making decisions.

Be careful of only looking backwards or you may miss the emerging opportunities as Ted also says, “If you’re always looking for what’s wrong, you’ll never see what’s right.

I spoke with Helen Palmer in Episode 11 of the Thriving in Complexity podcast, who explains that sense-making is like the difference between making music with an orchestra versus a jazz band.

In the orchestra, we know what instrument we have, where we sit, and there’s a conductor guiding us. However, contrast this with jamming in a jazz band where the musicians have more flexibility. They know they are not just making noise, that they are listening to each other. They are curious and generously contribute to making their musical partners look good, allowing the music to emerge. They believe that because they trust in the process and are working together, something musical will be made. That’s what we see with “The Lasso Way”.

One of Ted’s experiments was with the concept of total football. To say it didn’t go so well at first is an understatement, but Ted made it safe for the team to try, for Jamie Tartt to speak up and for something magical to happen when Jamie turned ‘me’ into ‘us’. Something Ted has been encouraging him to do since the middle of season one.

The total football strategy allowed for a more fluid, dynamic playing style where players made quick transitions and moved the ball into open spaces to create new opportunities.

So, if you want to try out “The Lasso Way” yourself:

  • Treat people with respect and kindness and strive to create a positive and supportive culture – a little humour can help.
  • Focus on the journey of improvement and growth and the process of getting better every day.
  • Build relationships, trust and connection and seek to understand others’ motivations and fears.
  • Embrace diversity and difference as an opportunity to learn from one another.

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