Horse racing, in its various forms, has a rich and distinguished history. Whether in the Middle East, Egypt, or Babylon, horse races have been a part of civilisations all over the world for hundreds of years.
As an ancient sport, it has evolved over the centuries into a large public-entertainment business. In the 21st century, however, the sport has suffered a dip in popularity. A variety of reasons for this have been identified. One common factor is the tendency for racing to focus on the frontrunners in a campaign. However, the sport has also brought many benefits to an organization.
First, the most prestigious flat races serve as tests of stamina and speed. For instance, the Belmont Stakes in the United States and the Melbourne Cup in Australia are two of the most important in the Southern Hemisphere. Other prestigious races include the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France, the Australian Gold Cup, and the Sydney Cup in Australia.
Second, the horse race has long been a metaphor for political issues. The Boston Journal, for example, used the horse-race image as early as 1888 in its election coverage. By the late 1800s, the image had become so commonplace that critics started to complain about its use.
Third, the horse-race image has served as a door opener for political issue coverage. It has helped voters choose their politician of choice when candidates converge on certain issues. And, it has also given the media a way to re-examine the composition of a candidate’s image.
Fourth, the horse-race idea has a long history of being misused in the media. Despite its proven merits, however, critics have argued that it can skew focus and emphasis away from the substance of the issue. This is particularly true in presidential campaigns where there is a lot of time to cover many sides of an issue. If there were no horse-race coverage, the media would likely cover an endless series of policy white papers.
Fifth, the horse-race concept has been around much longer than most modern polling techniques. It is therefore a good idea to evaluate its suitability to your organization before you decide to run a horse race. Consider whether the winning horse will be suitable for your organization’s culture, and if there are any internal collaboration or resource sharing considerations to take into account.
Sixth, the horse-race idea has a number of lingering effects. Among these are the fear of protracted succession in leadership roles. Directors and executives may be concerned about the impact of a lengthy succession process on business momentum. Similarly, if a company picks a winner, other senior level executives and leaders deeper in the organization may be left out of the running.
Seventh, the horse-race idea is a good way to establish a culture of leadership development. It gives employees an incentive to perform well, and provides a clear signal of accountability for performance. Moreover, it can establish a culture in which individuals compete for high positions, a common trait among successful companies.