An Open letter to Mr. Disney.
Dear Mr. De Villiers,
I have long admired your leadership role as the head of the ATP, so the news about your personal intervention in determining the qualifier in the Las Vegas tournament came as a complete surprise to me. The situation gave rise to questions about the future of the Round Robin format in professional menís tennis that was introduced under your direction, so I will humbly submit my suggestions about how to act optimally in this situation.
The initiative to introduce the RR format initially was a brilliant idea, worthy of placing you to the pantheon of the most innovative corporate executives in history. There are many difficult problems facing professional tennis right now, but what is the point of working towards their solution if that will create unpleasant conflicts with certain constituents in the game? For example, changing the calendar so as to please both the players and the Technical Directors represents a challenge better left to your successor.
Instead of tackling the serious issues facing menís tennis, you wisely started with a cosmetic change, designed to appeal simultaneously to top players and tournament organizers. The RR format benefits the top players, guaranteeing a minimum number of matches and allowing them to qualify from the group stage even if they happen to lose a match. On the other hand, the TD can better promote their star players. Of course there are minor problems with the idea, as it ensures a lower number of players entering a given tournament, making the progress of young upcoming players or players coming back from injury harder. But who cares about these players? They do not carry any power or proper representation so you may safely ignore them anyway.
The events of Las Vegas came as an unwelcome surprise. You heard first about the situation in Buenos Aires where Ferrero was unable to advance dues to a retirement in his group. But who cares about a minor event in Argentina? On the other hand, the situation in Las Vegas was different. James Blake, one of the most popular and recognizable players in the tour, would be eliminated based on the standing rules. Moreover, the tournament faced the risk of low ticket sales during the coming weekend, losing its biggest star attraction. So you decide to intervene, changing the rules so as to ensure that James Blake qualifies. Then the next morning you realized that you didnít have the authority to intervene in the first place, so you switched back to the original decision, after a face saving statement that the RR format is under investigation.
The whole situation leaves you in an embarrassing position. Critics may question your objectivity and impartiality since your decision benefited the top, popular player against the unknown, low ranked young opponent. The press may question your role in the affair and your supervision that allowed the mess to develop in Buenos Aires and Las Vegas. Some heretics may even dare to question your competence, since you were not even aware that you didnít have the authority to intervene in the first place. The top players and tournament directors may question your usefulness, since your rule didnít serve them sufficiently to begin with.
As the undisputed master of corporate politics that you are, you need to silence these critics as fast as possible. Those idiots think that it is important for the head of the ATP to be competent. They know nothing about competence. Give the smart ones 10,000 nails and ask them to construct a spaceship. Can they do it? You must first reinforce your image as a visionary not afraid to make changes. Call journalists who owe you favors so that they say that your intervention showed what a fearless leader you are. Furthermore, you can regain the high ground by being the first to suggest that the RR format must be stopped immediately. Never mind that you are directly responsible for the introduction and implementation of RR. This is a tiny detail; you can blame technicalities inherent in the format for the difficulties and appear sensitive to the playersí objections.
Mr. Chairman, your admirers expect a lot from you. Do not let your cynic detractors prevail. It is time to skip this cosmetic change and prepare for the introduction of the next one. I will remain available for ideas and suggestions. I am glad for the opportunity to address you.
Salvor Hardin: "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent"
From Isaac Asimov's "Foundation".