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Pt. 8 of 18. Lean teams, 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


(8) The Lean Team

What this means to the Shadow Industry

The Shadow Industry’s sole purpose is to maximise profits and to do this you need to maximise your revenues and keep your costs low and this is something that the Shadow industry excels at. Their methodology is split into three parts which we will call Remuneration, Perfect Planning and Perfect Talent.

Firstly let’s discuss Remuneration. Many of the individuals who are involved in carrying out criminal acts such as theft, smuggling, counterfeiting, scams and hacking which account for about a half of all illegal activity by revenue are paid a percentage of the final haul and while they may be paid a retainer plus expenses up front, whether it is a gesture of good will or to cover necessary set up costs it’s often the case that these sums are subtracted from their final cut. There are no ongoing monthly operating costs here, everything is strictly payment by results.

Secondly Perfect Planning. As we saw in our case study at the start of this paper Perfect Planning is the cornerstone that underpins the organisations ability to maximise returns and maximise profits. Perfect plans, such as “Inside Jobs” where there are no unknowns, where all the risks are quantified and accounted for and where the skills of each Soldato are perfectly matched to the tasks they’ve been assigned allow syndicates to create lean teams that use minimal resources, execute with speed and eliminate resistance. Creating the Perfect Plan requires information and insight which can be sourced through a variety of means that range from insider information, gleaned by either bribing or “persuading” the right individuals, through to the outright theft of confidential material.

Thirdly Perfect Talent. If you have a Perfect Plan then you’ll know precisely what roles you need people to execute and this allows you to hire the right experts. Not only does this approach allow you to only hire a lean team but fewer team members also minimizes the risk of being detected or being sold out to the security agencies, it also means that the haul is split between fewer individuals allowing both the organisation and the individuals to each maximise their profits.

What this means to legitimate industries

Organisations are renowned for running as lean as possible to keep expenses low and maximise profits but every day organisations make irrational decisions that affect their ability to execute and fail time and time again to optimize the deployment of their best assets – their people.

Every organisation on Earth is trying to reach Execution Utopia – that place where actions are completed on time and against plan but ninety nine times out of a hundred they all too commonly find that things go off plan very quickly. So is perfect execution a myth? Certainly not but the more moving parts your organisation has to deal with the harder they are to control and this is where creep comes in.

Perfect execution relies on your ability to predict and control the chain of events that play a part in helping you achieve your goals but just one alteration in the status quo can have a dramatic knock on effect and throw a spanner in your plan. Inevitably your ability to predict and control all of these events will be directly linked to your ability to influence and understand them and while some of this comes with time and experience you’ll often find that it’s your relationships with the people involved with each event that will be the key that helps you stay on target so the better your relationships with them the more influence you can exert, the more insights you have and the greater your likelihood of reaching Execution Utopia.

Relationships are borne out of consistency, respect and from a program of constant engagement but leadership teams, being the prolific meddlers that they are, are continually moving people around the organisation – breaking the vital relationships they’ve formed with each other and their day to day network of contacts and resetting many of your organisations relationships with your ecosystem of partners, customers and suppliers back to square one and then the cycle of rebuilding those key relationships has to start all over again so against this backdrop is it any wonder that so many organisations struggle with execution? 


Perfect execution isn’t a myth but even the most experienced and mature organisations can fall at the first hurdle. Perfect execution is dependent on your organisations ability to see, control and predict every step that contributes to a successful outcome.

The key takeaways are:

  • Use senior sponsors and partnerships to influence the people and actions you can’t
  • Use your relationships, partnerships and insights to create the Perfect Plan
  • Remove organisational barriers so you can quickly build the Perfect Team
  • Prioritise and preserve your organisations valuable relationships

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