How lessons from Wimbledon can serve British businesses

Gillian Lees
Day Two: The Championships - Wimbledon 2015
Wimbledon can teach a thing or two about longevity (Source: Getty)

It’s astonishing to think that Wimbledon will be 140 years old next year. Yet, despite its age, it remains the pillar of the lawn tennis world, a longevity that could teach the business world a thing or two about how to create long-term enduring value.

Indeed, while the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams may be the ones revered by history, we should really be celebrating the people that have contributed to Wimbledon’s retained position of supremacy. I’m led to think of Timothy Dewe Phillips, the former Chairman of the AELTC who, in 2009, commissioned the retractable roof and Hawk Eye technology that have revolutionised the sport.

Phillips may not have masterminded these innovations, but he was the man at the helm taking decisions and determining Wimbledon’s future. As such he should be commended for seeing its true value – the white clothes, royal patronage etc – while simultaneously introducing things that would preserve existing value and help build on its success in the long term.

This business model is one that any smart business leader will recognise, and the even smarter ones look to exploit. Mercedes Benz provides a good example here; a company that has stayed committed its founding principles of innovation, empowerment and premium design, while continuously adapting its product to maintain its position as a global leader. In a similar vein, Rolex has demonstrated its fortitude, staying relevant in a market that has irrevocably changed in this digital age, yet it remains a leader in its market.

Read more: How much can tennis players win at the All England Club?

These brands have showcased their ability to protect the intangible values of their brands, whilst looking to the future in order to maintain their relevance in a changing market. This foresight is something that many British brands over the years have sadly failed to implement, the most recent casualty being BHS.

In this volatile and uncertain landscape, strategic decision making is critical. Unfortunately, most organisations now find themselves battling bureaucratic decision-making, short-term thinking and low levels of collaboration. This creates silos within organisations, leading to break downs in communication, thus limiting the ability to assess critical information needed to drive an organisation forward to achieve the bigger picture.

Fortunately, an integrated approach can help promote long term strategic thinking — cutting through silos to connect the relevant people and information from across the organisation. We, management accountants, call this concept ‘joining the dots’ and it’s a way that enables leaders to see into the long term.

It’s a proposition that helps businesses overcome bureaucracy and improve collaboration, using relevant metrics to assess the most appropriate long-term strategy, and building decision making skills amongst senior leaders. This, in essence, is the Wimbledon way and we could all learn a lot from it.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

Related articles