Taking inspiration from golf to prevent a business crisis.

On the field and in business, strategic organization is the winning weapon?

Golf, a game that may seem far removed from the business world, can actually provide insights for CEOs, managers, or entrepreneurs on how to prevent a crisis.

In golf, indeed, clubs are chosen based on the situation and the adopted strategy, just like in businesses. Woods are effective for the initial shot, irons for moments that require precision, and a putter when you are close to the hole. But it’s not just about the tools; it’s also important to understand whether it’s the right time to attack or play defensively.

Just like in business, finding harmony, synchrony, and alignment between tools and strategy is important. Unfortunately, in business, this last concept is often mistakenly associated with rigid processes and top-down imposed objectives. This happens, for example, when executives grant employees full discretion on how to implement this alignment, without considering the organizational factors necessary to ensure that the strategy is truly effective. 

The organizational structure of a company is the living embodiment of a specific strategy. They should serve the structures, processes, technologies, and governance of the company, as well as the values, norms, culture, leadership, and skills and aspirations of the employees who are part of it. When the strategy changes, it is important to realign the structures, roles, and functions according to the new objectives to avoid ending up, like in the case of golf clubs, with the wrong equipment.

Having suitable equipment is not only useful but also necessary according to Article 2086 of the Civil Code, which establishes criteria for the adequacy of the organizational structure. In particular, the regulation states that the entrepreneur must establish an organizational, administrative, and accounting structure appropriate to the nature and size of the company. This applies especially in situations of crisis when it is crucial for these structures to be able to help those leading the company to promptly detect critical issues and intervene with a tight sequence of actions.

Just as showing up on the green with a tennis racket would be inadequate and counterproductive in the game of golf, it is also important in the business context to adopt an organizational structure that is appropriate and functional to the situations and needs at hand. Prevention is always better than cure and usually reduces the recovery time.

To achieve business objectives, it is crucial to organize work effectively and use the right tools to gather and communicate the necessary information.

In complex enterprises, it is important to divide activities into categories such as operational management and specialized control bodies, and internally coordinate them to analyze risks and find innovative solutions.

A good approach could be to adopt a strategic management style that does not solely focus on top-level individuals but is distributed among various managerial levels. On one hand, operational management – such as sales management, technical management, and research and development management – is important because it possesses specific expertise that enables the identification and management of issues within their respective areas of expertise. On the other hand, specialized control bodies – such as internal auditors, risk managers, and compliance managers – are focused on providing high-level services to help ensure proper functioning of the corporate administration, particularly in administrative aspects. In this way, the specific skills of each employee are valued, and organizational structures are restructured to avoid overloading of work and misallocated roles.

Choosing an appropriate organizational structure is certainly a fundamental step in preventing crisis situations and addressing them in the best possible way.

Gill Corkindale, a management and leadership consultant, effectively illustrates in an article published in the Harvard Business Review the concrete meaning of the need to identify appropriate organizational structures for companies through a case in which a Swiss engineer was overwhelmed with contradictory tasks. Corkindale also suggests innovative solutions to assess the adequacy of the organizational structure, such as the case of a French executive who, after being appointed CEO of a food company, decided to reapply people for their positions to identify redundant or misaligned roles.

The examples mentioned may seem extreme, but they represent important issues to reflect upon in order to ensure the success of a company.

In a turbulent and ever-changing world, it is crucial for the organizational structure to be aligned with the strategy to prevent potential crises and to address them proactively. Aligning objectives with an appropriate organization sends an important signal to employees, demonstrating the importance of the strategy and avoiding a distrustful attitude. Just like in the game of golf, where it is essential to show up with the appropriate equipment to be ready to face any situation, identifying the right organizational structure is a fundamental step to ensure the proper functioning and success of a business.

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