Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tour De France or World Cup; what type of organisation is yours?

Two big sporting events have been underway this week, the Tour De France and the Women's World Cup football, and they've got me thinking about a couple of different organisational cultures I have encountered. So here's something to ponder; is your organisation more like the Tour De France or World Cup football?

 A Tour De France type organisation is structured around the individual who will ultimately deliver the result, most usually, the sales consultant.  Just like the Tour, the individual can only succeed with the help of both the peloton (marketing, product and other in field functions) and the support crew (finance, HR, production, IT).  Whilst the pressure rests on the shoulders of the lead rider, it is the team members who shape their activities around the performance of the lead rider, varying their pace and protecting their man from competitor activity. Team strategy is devised around the lead rider's performance at every stage and all team members subordinate their individual aspirations of glory to the greater good. History records the individual as the winner, and the individual is in this sense, bigger than the team.

A World Cup football type organisation on the other hand, celebrates and records success as a collective. It is the team that is bigger than the individual.  Whilst players have specialist roles (sales, marketing, product), and off field support is essential (finance, HR, IT) and star performers invariably emerge, the team can only succeed if the ball is won by defence and goals kicked by those forward.  History records the team rather than an individual as the victor and the spoils are shared.

So which is the better type of organisation? Does it depend on the type of business you are in? And when should the individual be bigger than the team?  I'd love to hear your thoughts so drop a comment (lycra jokes most welcome).

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