3 Management Lessons from the London Olympics

by Fast Company

With the Olympics less than two weeks away, London is on the verge of hosting the world. In terms of the shear volume of preparation involved, talk about a management task that’s anything but for the faint of heart.

When leadership expert Craig Chappelow recently visited the site of the upcoming games he couldn’t help thinking how glad he was the person in charge of all that management wasn’t him. Expected to find “a flurry of last minute, near-panic construction activity,” instead he was greeted with “a few bored-looking guards stationed around the site at gates, but beyond that — nothing. If I were in charge of this project, I would be on the phone with my contractor right now, leaving an urgent message (or six).”

As it turns out, Chappelow had made a mistake that’s not uncommon for project managers and leaders at all levels: “passing judgment on the status of a project based on a low-level, up-close perspective.” The major venues have in fact been completed (on schedule) nearly a year ago. There was no flurry of activity and chaos because everything was taken care of and planned. “London is ready,” Chappelow writes. “No matter what it looks like close up, this massive project involving thousands of people, hundreds of groups, and billions of pounds, will be ready when they light the flame on 27 July.”

The take away management lessons from the London Olympics for entrepreneurs? Take the time to periodically step back from a project to get “a clearer picture of overall progress and remaining challenges,” in addition, get a view from as many different angles as possible, and finally, put both time and resources aside to deal with last minute surprises — you can always count on them.