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Pt. 15 of 18. Process, leadership lessons from organised crime


For the good of society – 18 leadership lessons from organised crime


In Part 1, “Ambition” we set the scene.

According to Interpol, the UN and WTO the organised crime industry is one of the worlds largest with quantifiable revenues of at least $3 Trillion per year and despite trillions of dollars worth of investment to counter act their growth the industry is growing faster than ever leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.

In a world first we reveal how Syndicates, some of whose annual revenues top $200 Billion use influence, resources, technology and vision to build global empires and translate it into a business language that philanthropists can use to build prosperous companies that can help repair some of the societal damage by creating new jobs, simplifying international expansion, building engaged workforces and creating new, selfless collaborative cultures.

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During our investigation we uncovered 18 categories, to read them just click on the link below:

  1. Ambition
  2. Customer Service
  3. Bribery and Corruption
  4. Devolved decision making
  5. External Problem Resolution
  6. Internal Problem Resolution
  7. Local Touch
  8. The Lean Team
  9. Consistency
  10. Loyalty
  11. Perks
  12. Disruptive Innovation
  13. The Flight to Favourable Jurisdictions
  14. React to Real Time Events
  15. Process as the Enemy
  16. Spying on the Competition
  17. Emigres Clusters
  18. Trust, Faith and Openness


(15) Process as the Enemy

What this means to the Shadow Industry

The Shadow Industry recognised a long time ago that processes and procedures, while important create audit trails and digital fingerprints that the law enforcement agencies can use to track and identify their operations and employees, meanwhile they also realized that masses of processes reduced their organisational agility and ability to rapidly break new opportunities – neither of which is acceptable in their dangerous, rapidly evolving world.

Over time their organisations have evolved to be process light and this phenomenon has allowed them to build, destroy and reshape their organisations and their business models time and time again creating, in essence, polymorphic organisations which can quickly adapt to new market conditions and maximise new opportunities while having the additional benefit of making it increasingly difficult for law enforcement agencies to predict and track their activities. 


See also
Pt. 5 of 18. Solving external problems, leadership lessons from organised crime


What this means to legitimate industries

Processes are the bane of many a good organisation and put quite simply the smaller the organisation the fewer processes they have and the more nimble, or ‘Entrepreneurial’ they can be. Both these traits are so sought after by larger Enterprises that organisations as renowned as GE and Coca Cola invest vast sums of money trying to acquire or reclaim this lost ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit’ so they can grow revenues and break into new markets. It’s somehow ironic to think that over time these enterprise organisations have become so process bound that they believe that any smaller, nimbler competitors who can outflank them are automatically embodied by a mystical ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit’ when in many circumstances the reality is just that these organisations are nimble because low process loads allow them to be more polymorphic.

Unfortunately processes are a necessary evil – born out of the desire for standardization and control, but left unchecked they can proliferate uncontrollably as your organisation grows and today many traditional organisations, particularly vertical organisations like IBM, are now so process bound that it’s increasingly difficult for them to transform their business model and, as Gartner put it, execute efficiently. Inevitably this state of affairs often dents earnings, reduces their ability to go after new market opportunities and helps smaller nimbler organisations disrupt them and take market share.

While many organisations routinely try to streamline their processes using methodologies like Six Sigma the fact remains that the teams tasked with the job are out manned and out gunned thousands to one and it’s not uncommon to find that just a single process can be interwoven across many different departments and that very few people, if anyone know what it looks like from end to end so over time it’s inevitable that the number of processes in your organisation will increase and process confusion is often made worse by the fact that new processes are often ineptly laid over old processes contributing to the muddle.

In the world where process is king it is the horizontally integrated organisations – not the vertically integrated ones, that turn out to be the most agile because they chose to layer the common, day to day processes over the top of their lines of business and task a single administrative unit to manage them. One process and one team to rule them all. 


Processes play a vital role in helping organisation create repeatable, standardised outcomes but implemented unwisely and left to proliferate they can damage your long term business prospects by reducing your agility, hurting your execution capabilities and impacting your ability to seize new market opportunities.

The key takeaways are:

  • Create escalation procedures that allow you to fast track priority issues
  • Design future fit business processes that enhance business agility
  • Rationalise and consolidate as many processes as possible
  • Create an adaptive Polymorphic organisation

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