Lessons from the Olympic Games for your business


7 December 2011

On Monday I had the privilege of listening to (Lord) Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Olympics.

He used a great analogy for how to view the Olympics which I think is perfect for how you view your business.

If you think about it, the Olympics is an enormous HR project. It starts with one person and then rapidly snowballs into thousands of staff and volunteers, only to revert to zero on the day after the Olympics! Imagine the paperwork? It must be one of the biggest HR jobs in the world…

Or, you can look at through the lens of the security chief. What better scene for Al Qaeda to make a statement? How to keep the queues moving but stop the weapons? How to protect the athletes and the VIP’s? It must be the biggest security job in the world!

Or, you can look at it through the lens of the chief financial officer. Before you’ve even started you know you’re down by at least two billion Pounds! This money must be recovered via sponsors, broadcast rights, tickets and the government… In the middle of a recession…. It must be one of the trickiest financing jobs in the world…

Or, you can look at it through the lens of the spectator. Transport, food, seating, queues, sound, security. You want things to move quickly, be convenient, and most importantly, be entertaining. If must be one of the highlights of the spectators life!

Or, finally, you can look at it through the lens of the athlete. That’s how Sebastian Coe looks at it. He thinks back to the Moscow and LA Games and tries to think what was most important to him. What is most important to the athlete is that everything goes absolutely smoothly and he is left to concentrate on the job at hand without distraction. The enormous complexity of such a massive event must be invisible to him.

When you think about it, the athlete has the most important lens. If the athlete is considered in every decision then he/she will be able to produce the performance of his/her lifetime. Which means it will be the most entertaining and memorable Olympics in history. Mission accomplished.

Two things:

  1. When you think of your business, think of who the athlete is and look at everything through his lens.
  2. The 2012 Olympics will be the best in history
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