Great moments in governance: Australian Open tennis meltdown 2019

  • An event at the 2019 Australia Open tennis provides a vivid metaphor for the complexities of decision making.
  • Despite overt transparency and clear rules supported by sophisticated technological measurement, there can still be disagreement about what decision should be made.
  • The event also highlighted the need for organisations to rethink risk appetite in regard to governing in an era of social media.

Close up of bouncing tennis ball

Governance is all about decision-making and there may be no better metaphor for operational governance in action than a tennis umpire.

Umpires and line judges make decisions in real time about the rules of tennis, and actively work to mitigate the risk of these decisions impacting on play. Umpires also provide assurance to players, spectators, sponsors, and the public that the game will be played within the rules.

Anyone watching the 2019 Australian Open tennis would have noticed some great split second decision making by umpires and line judges in high pressure situations involving balls travelling at hundreds of kilometres per hour.

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