Ducati Team MotoGP, ‘internal environment’ and enterprise risk management

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As many other MotoGP fans, I was glued to the TV last night for the Argentinian GP on the Termas de Río Hondo circuit. At the end of one of the most absurd races in the history of this sport, while I was wondering why Sky Sport MotoGP was broadcasting something really close to ‘Holiday on Ice’ on April 3rd, at the second to last corner I was forced to watch the Ducati suicide.

As many other MotoGP fans, I was glued to the TV last night for the Argentinian GP on the Termas de Río Hondo circuit. At the end of one of the most absurd races in the history of this sport, while I was wondering why Sky Sport MotoGP was broadcasting something really close to ‘Holiday on Ice’ on April 3rd, at the second to last corner I was forced to watch the Ducati suicide.

For those who did not follow the race, here is what happened. At the final lap Dovizioso and Iannone – the two official riders of the Ducati Team MotoGP – are very closed in second and third position, with Valentino Rossi far enough in the fourth place. It would be a great result for the team of Borgo Panigale that, in the second run of the world championship, would get a double-podium with several bikes of the Honda and Yamaha Japanese teams behind them. In the very last part of the race, Andrea Iannone loses control: a kamikaze-style hard braking to try overcoming his teammate, the front tire slips and they both fall down with Andrea Dovizioso frustrated and unguilty in the gravel. Valentino thanks them and the Rossa says goodbye to many important points in the MotoGP Factory World Standing.

The dynamic of the crash is pretty clear and, at a superficial analysis, it is easy to say Iannone is the bad-guy. He is as aggressive as he is spectacular and talented on the track, but this time he actually made a big mistake. But the comments of the specialized press after the race and my professional bias led me to think that the Ducati Team Managers have a good share of responsibility for what happened.

Let’s face it, Ducati is an excellent brand that represent the made in Italy abroad (and in fact it was acquired by Audi) and we must be nothing but proud. But in this case, the Team was far from being perfect. Why? Well, they did not take into account the relationship between ‘internal environment’ and enterprise risk management at all. It is no mystery that the two riders have been put under a great pressure by an aggressive strategy of the Team in the transfer market: they signed an important tester as Casey Stoner (former MotoGP World Champion, still in a great shape) and they are trying to sign Jorge Lorenzo for 2017. As a result, Dovizioso and Iannone found themselves in a motorsports remake of the famous movie ‘Trading Places’. The one who arrives behind does not get an official Ducati bike next year.

You may say that MotoGP riders are paid really well and we should expect them to be professional. This is true, but just in theory. We all know that riders, by definition, do not compete for the third place and they try to overcome as soon as they can. Iannone also made a (different) mistake in the first race in Qatar and it would have been unacceptable to him to stay behind Dovizioso again when the Team is discussing the contract renewals.

The crash was predictable. Ducati is a glorious brand and the Argentinian accident is not so bad. But the reputation, in this specific case, did not improve (to say the least).

Similar episodes happen every single day in the organizations, even if they did not get attention from the media. How many times do we complain about companies that put short-term economic targets in the first place rather than being concerned about a safe internal environment oriented to sustainable growth? How many times organizations over-incentive commercial aims, even if they realize they are putting too much pressure on their employees? How many so-called Managers follow the divide et impera rule that contributes only to confusion, stress and misunderstandings?

Those who work in the Enterprise Risk Management field know, or should know, very well that monitoring the internal environment is a strategic and fundamental activity. Taking corrective actions at the first early-warning signals is useful to prevent incidents, frauds and sabotages, to mitigate the reputational impacts of an adverse event and to obtain a higher commitment from the whole Staff to reach long-term targets.

Or in other words, analyzing the internal environment and managing the risk is everything you need to… stay on the track!

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