6 Lessons for us all from the Games (and they haven’t even started yet!)
As I write this, on the day athletes start arriving in London, in many ways the fun and games have already started. And I don’t mean the sporting games. There are already lessons that we can all learn and apply in our professional and personal lives from two recent news items (even if we are dis-interested in the Olympics).
1 Critically assess your plan, especially the crucial factors
Yes, we all know hindsight is wonderful, and we all know that there has been lots written about it over the past few days, but the G4S (Security Company) debacle really highlighted a few key points, especially the need to identify critical factors in any plan, whether the Olympics, your business plan or your wedding, and to make sure that you take appropriate action on the points below. People will remember mistakes, and often ignore all the successes (of which there are a huge number in this Olympic project).
2 Choose the right people to work with/for you
Do the people you do business with (suppliers, customers, employees) reflect the image you want to create?
3 Make whatever checks you need to in order to be 100% sure (or as close as possible) you get what you expect and have contracted for.
If necessary, be prepared to challenge people’s ‘assurances’ where possible (for example, many business contracts include the right to ‘audit’ or inspect suppliers).
4 Have a Plan B
Fortunately we have an excellent Police service and Army who will be able to fill the gap. What is your backup plan?
5 Create a culture based on integrity and openness
It appears from these recent media reports that a significant amount of ‘bad news’ was withheld from senior G4S management (did they apply step 3 above on their own organisation?). It is interesting to wonder whether the G4S culture is one of gratitude and appreciation towards those who raise alarm bells early so that managers could adjust plans.
On my training courses delegates, without exception, state that they would trust, refer business towards, and do more business with, an organisation that admitted it couldn’t meet their needs rather than one that over-promises and under-delivers. For those of us running, advising or being able to influence organisations, it is worth considering the degree to which openness is valued in the organisation, the benefits of becoming even more open, and what actions to take to create this. Being able to fulfil on what we commit to shows great integrity, as does raising doubts as soon as we become aware of them.
6 Remember the ‘little’ people
The media highlighted many stories of problems at grass-roots level at G4S, where relatively low-level staff knew there were operational problems, due to, for example, lack of training. A management style of MBWO (management by walking about) would have been extremely useful. Equally, as we read in the media, (for example American and Australian Team Buses Get Lost) several athletes arriving in London were forced to waste time on their bus because drivers got lost and didn’t know how to operate the GPS system. Winning the contract is one thing; delivering is another. Managers, please remember to value, appreciate and properly equip the ‘little’ people.
Whilst we can all learn from successes, we probably won’t hear much of how the numerous Olympic planning successes were achieved. At least we can learn from the non-successes.
Enjoy the real Games!