Its practices may be largely illegal, but Cosa Nostra is not as retrograde, or conservative, as it has often been portrayed. Like any business, it is pragmatic and constantly changing to exploit new opportunities. But the mafia has been using these methods for years.
Reuters They're violent, they're ruthless, they have caused misery to many, but you can't fault their business sense: Its practices may be largely illegal, but Cosa Nostra is not as retrograde, or conservative, as it has often been portrayed.
Its raison d'etre is profit. Like any business, it is pragmatic and constantly changing to exploit new opportunities. Big business has learned how to sell itself to the public, with television shows such as The Apprentice and Dragons' Den granting us a view of harsh but compellingly competitive environments.
But the mafia has been using these methods for years. When Bernardo Provenzano took over the organisation in the mids, he inherited a depleted and demoralised workforce, who had scuppered their own access to politics and industry.
The bombs that killed anti-mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino had created a PR disaster and a law enforcement backlash. Hundreds of mafiosi were in prison, and many of them were so disillusioned with the organisation that they were telling the authorities everything they knew.
Magistrates and mafiosi agree: Provenzano was the charismatic force who revived the fortunes of Cosa Nostra. It has been said of Provenzano, as of so many mafia entrepreneurs, that had he turned his talents and resources to legitimate business, he would have been extremely successful.
Fortunately, the mafia's particular modus operandi - the use or threat of violence to create monopolies and price-fixing cartels - is not part of general business practice. But his "System" turned around a failing organisation with far-sighted tactics worthy of any business impresario.
The fact that he wrote his reforms by letter means that we have what amounts to seven rules for running a successful business. Submersion When a company is failing, the first step is to take it below the radar.
You want to lose that cursed epithet "troubled" as quickly as possible, even if it means disappearing from the business pages.
You also want to buy shareholders' patience and convince them to hold their nerve and trust you. After a series of power struggles that had left many dead, businessmen were understandably reluctant to return calls. Mafiosi were instructed to avoid any activity that would attract publicity.
If a factory owner refused to pay protection, no one was to set fire to the machinery or blow up the trucks. Peaceful persuasion was the only way. By contrast with the old-style system of shoot first and ask questions later, any hostile action would have to be thoroughly assessed for potential PR damage.
Announcing his system, Provenzano warned that recovery would take time: Rebuilding links with business and politicians could only be done out of the glare of publicity. In relative obscurity, Cosa Nostra would be repositioned to shake off its parasitic image and become part of the industrial and political institutions.
Mediation "Be calm, clear, correct and consistent, turn any negative experiences to account, don't dismiss everything people tell you, or believe everything you're told. Always try to discover the truth before you speak, and remember that, to make your judgment, it's never enough to have just one source of information.
Provenzano was decisive, and on occasion demanded swift and direct answers to his questions, but he could be a ditherer when it suited him. Playing for time, he encouraged his men to negotiate agreements between them. If that failed, Provenzano was at his typewriter night and day, offering his wisdom and experience and just occasionally, a little double-dealing to resolve disputes.
Like any company director, who carefully crafts his or her media persona, Provenzano didn't want to come across as a tyrant, he wanted to be a "kindly dictator". He coordinated the activities of different and competing groups, without imposing his will.
He was the uncontested boss, but he gave the impression that his decisions were reached after long consultation. Consensus Provenzano answered letters from every level of society about job vacancies, exam results, local health and hospital administration.
Like the charity work carried out by major corporations today, Provenzano was clear:The sample business plan is taken from a website selling business plan software and is not the product of a student assignment.
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