Does that make the boat go faster?

My contract has officially started, I put brand new curtains on my windows, I know where the cutlery is when I need it, and an umbrella should be offered to any new London resident (but that is another story). With another dozen of new contractors, I got on the first day of “work”: not a big sweat, yet, only essential administrative clarifications and basic details to absorb so the team can function by the end of the month. Reminders of why and how we ended up here have been brought up: it feels good to know why we were selected to specifically do this job.

In a good Olympic fashion, the team is mostly international with people coming from Greece, Poland, Hungary, the USA, Germany, Canada, and of course, the UK. The ice was easily broken, and we all got on the wagon, still with a few questions in mind: we know answers will come along when the information is known. There it is: Patience, the word any event manager dedicated to operations is regularly wrestling with. On the paper, the planning phase is about to be completed, and the transition to the operational phase often becomes tricky to manage, as there is no clear-cut hard line defining when and where the latter takes over from the former.

So, when? Where? Who? How? And… why? Where do we start, really? Well, we will find out. The speech we received about inviting us to be patient came with a relevant anecdote the director experienced. When he first got introduced to the organisation itself, some local Olympians gave a few interviews, and conferences, with the organising team. One of them was Ben Hunt-Davis, an athlete from the British Rowing Team. He mentioned episodes of their training, their mental preparation, how the weather conditions were affecting their performance, and how much strategy was behind any of their sport decisions. Their bottom line question was non-negotiable: “does that make the boat go faster?”

For us, Olympic Games makers, it is fairly the same (and that works for any operations manager, really): it is likely too late, and mostly too ambitious, to change any details that strategic planners have probably lost sleep over. Asking ourselves the question if any new decision is going to trigger for our own boat to go faster is a great guide, and analogy, to make our experience memorable (in the most positive way possible, that is). With 100 days to go until the Games start, details to fluff a project up are only “nice to have”, and do not fall under the “necessary/critical” category. Wanting to get down to our venues now is not going to help: we have enough theory to learn and scenarios to “play” with until we get thrown into the heat of things. Maybe then we will ask to slow down (although I doubt about that part). We all are keen to start, and help the athletes get their boat go as fast as they can.