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


For the good of society – [inlinetweet prefix=”@mgriffin_uk” tweeter=”@mgriffin_uk” suffix=”null”]18 leadership lessons from organised crime[/inlinetweet]


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


(5) External Problem Resolution

What this means to the Shadow Industry

As we saw in one of our first topics in this paper “Ambition” every industry has its fair share of external problems and so it is with the Shadow Industry, and just like other industry they have their own Codes of Conduct and their own ways to resolve them. While many among you may think that violence is one of the Shadow Industry’s primary methods to control, contain or resolve issues our studies show that time and time again this isn’t the case. Surprisingly violence is commonly the exception, not the rule.

Violence is costly and impacts both the delivery capability of the organisation and it’s short and medium term commercial prospects and overall that’s bad for revenues and bad for business. Today many Syndicates have appointed Peacekeepers to act as bridgeheads between competing syndicates and functional groups and units. Peacekeepers all have one thing in common, they are there to proactively initiate civil dialogue between rival groups and solve problems that either are, or could begin destabilizing the syndicate. Often though these dialogues not only end up resolving the original problem but also help foster new partnerships that have then gone on to make the two organisations even stronger and more relevant.

What this means to legitimate industries

Your organisation will face a multitude of external pressures from within your own industry as well as other alternative industries and while you might only be able to take on two or three big battles at a time you’ll come across a myriad of distractions, from micro issues that include having to manage disruptive analysts and journalists all the way through to macro issues such as the 2008 recession.

Many of your day to day battles however will inevitably involve your competition and while marketing channels may have evolved immeasurably over the past decade, moving from multi-channel to omni channel in many respects the tactics used, such as FUD or ‘Fear uncertainty and Doubt’ have gone largely unchanged since the early 1920’s and still only serve to fuel the fire of rivalry, pitting organisations into a fierce Feature to Feature slugfest that in the long run only serves to devalue each organisations proposition.

Some rivalry is healthy but organisations today, particularly the larger enterprises, often get drawn into heated social exchanges that all too commonly boil over into their meetings with customers and do little or nothing to help them boost their credibility or credentials. When a rivalry becomes personal, whether it’s with a competitor, a customer or the media everybody loses – your organisation will become increasingly tactical and begin focusing more and more on beating that single actor and eventually you’ll lose sight of the bigger picture – or worse fail to see and react to the new competitors that are eating away at your customer base.

It’s very easy to see how organisations get drawn into one on one battles but your customers don’t care about your fights, they simply want you to focus on them and help them solve their problems in a swift and professional manner.

Strong leaders will always tell their teams to rise above the rivalries and focus on their customers’ needs but it is equally important that those same leaders are constantly scanning the horizon for new disruptive threats and opportunities so they can continue to stay one step ahead of their competition and win the war.


External problems can distract your organisation from its key priorities and anything that you can do to remove or minimise these disruptions and help your employees get on with growing the business must be prioritised.

The key takeaways are:

  • Implement a framework that lets employees delegate generic, non critical issues
  • Step back from the tactical knife fights and focus on the big picture
  • Assign Peacekeepers to manage external flare ups
  • Give your managers the power to resolve disputes

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