Dozen notes about Sochi2014 Games as a Project

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Preamble – why I do it?

Everything is personal. I did some complex events therefore this post written with lot of empathy to people that drove Sochi2014Mega project. They deserve objective valuation of their work, work that sometime cause you to go crazy and say “never again” 🙂

1. Methodology

This project valuation based on public and accessible information. I presume in our transparent times these sources are good enough.The focus was placed on major outputs and differentiation vs. other similar projects.

2. Olympic Games Project Goals

These are 3 major objectives for Olympic Games –

  • Provide high standard infrastructure for this Mega Sport Event and take Operational Management of all around – transport and logistics, accommodation, security, etc.
  • Send MESSAGE to the World – naturally it get huge attention
  • Secure long term prosperity of region/city and return on investment (just partially measured by money)

3. Executive summary and Dashboard

The project was executed at high level and beat expectation of experts, journalists, sportsmen and International Olympic Committee executives. However lack of linearity and transparency at preparation stage create huge overspending – X4 vs. initial budget. Lessons should be studied prior panning & executing next Mega Projects.

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4. Preparation stage

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The preparation to Olympics reminds me the following story.

It happened in Israel decade ago. One of top managers of Aircraft Industry committed suicide. He was one of initiators of common Russian-Israeli project. Six month before deadline Russians did not complete even 20% of draws and parts they should to deliver. The Israeli manager saw it as personal fail.  The funny side of this story – few weeks before deadline Russian partners started to deliver unbelievable number of draws and new parts and by last night do it all by acceptable (not perfect) quality, At Russian language this work style named “Avral”.

All pictures if incomplete venues and infrastructure create a lot of skepticism among foreigner journalists, experts and for many viewers inside of Russia.

See below link to video filmed by some opposition journalist in summer 2013.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2elkAL-FG4g

Anyway – all infrastructure and venues were delivered and all worked pretty well even some deficiencies became issue in social media (see chapter 8)

So it was done on very Russian way – with lack of linearity when ~50% of job was done in last 10% of time, lack of transparency and excessive over budgeting (some will name crazy spending), hope these lessons will be studied prior FIFA World Cup 2018.

5. Opening Ceremony

Opening and Closing ceremonies are most visible and memorable parts of show therefore get huge attention – ~500,000,000 people saw it around the world, 40,000 spectators at stadium and >2,000 artists that took part in the show. It was message from Russia to the World – “we are Country with Great culture and reach history”.  The message was delivered; it was nice and memorable show.

Single visible mistake with unopened snowflake was mentioned by many but it seems Russian take it with humor.

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6. 2 weeks of Games (Feb 7-Feb 23, 2014)

Extremely nice competitions, well organized, no major issues were reported, no doping scandals (>2,000 probes was taken with results ready within 24 h)

I had feeling that too many sportsmen were injured, however on Vancouver 2010 Games 1 in 10 sportsman was injured too according to British Journal of Sports Medicine. International Olympic Committee representative Mark Adams claims that is no sufficient difference comparing to another Games.

Just view all this spectrum of people emotions!

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7. Risk management

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Risk of terrorist attack widely discussed therefore does not make sense to take it further. As mitigation plan 36,000 securities cover the area, it seems they work effectively and stay invisible –there low or little complains on security presence.

The second one is less covered and it specific Russian – alcohol. Organizers ban to sale alcohol on venues, even beer was hard to achieve. As result unlike Vancouver 2010 Games these are no stories related to drunken sportsmen or fans.

8. Press Coverage

464 TV channels cover this game vs. 240 channels at Vancouver 2010.

Opening and Closing ceremonies will be broadcasted in 200 countries according to Timo Lumme, TV and Marketing Director of International and Olympic committee. Endless number of reportage’s in written and online media but Twitter and Social Media at All became a real Hero of these Games. This picture of unopened snowflake became super famous

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Slide below shows huge amount of data placed by sportsmen, funs and journalists on first week of games (just people located on venues or in Olympic village). Literally everything noted, pictured and reported. That’s why I feel high level of confidence when use open sources for creating this review.

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No doubt Twitter steal it from anyone – #sochiproblems became most popular hash tag with >400,000 subscribers.

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As mentioned in Chapter 4 it was a lot of skepticism about ability of Russians to host such extravaganza event– many people expected the failure but… it really not happen. Many “sensational” discovers were proven as fake or were too small to be real issue – see http://gossipsochi.com/

If you follow transformation of #sochiproblems and other informational sources, it started with expectation of failure and slowly goes into specific and objective news about games and competition itself.

9. External communication of Soch2014 Team

I’d like to note good quality, always kept to update official web site and world class level mobile Apps. Personally I used “Sochi2014 results “for Android and was satisfied. Google store showed >1,000,000 downloads on Feb 23 (500,000 downloads on Feb 7) . To my mind Apps were not promoted enough otherwise number if users should between 10,000,000 -50,000,000 users.

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Press Center was not responsive (at least for me) however when I approached with some specific question CEO of Sochi2014 Mr. Chernyshenko he was very responsive and informative.

P.S. responsiveness is a typical skill of C level managers – usually they able to embed tones of information and provide answer before their “busy” clerks.

10. Closing Ceremony

Bored. Too much speeches, anthems. Remind the opening, speak again about famous history. Does it make sense to repeat same message? What about future Russia?

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11. Long Term Impact on Russian Federation

Well, it pretty clear – $44B spent on Games and local infrastructure according to Russian officials (in mass media widely spread figure is $51B) never been returned from infrastructure or from Olympic venues revenue. On other hand “No Olympic games in history have made it into the black”, according to Robert Barney, founding director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

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Was it wrong to take commitment for Olympic Games for Russia? My opinion it was a right decision to host Olympic Games even it was super expensive step for Russia. The country suffer for last 2-3 decades from low national morale, people lost confidence that they as a whole nation able to achieve ambitious tasks, they forgot what is taste of winning and badly want it back. In this sense political and business life is pretty similar – you cannot achieve big and dare goals with people that do not believe in themselves. Should it happen? Whether Russian leaders will convert Sochi2014 into new Baykonur for Russian economics and society? We will see in coming years.

12. Last note

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Olympic Games is one of most exciting projects of modern times – it goes far beyond sport and it remarkable event for anyone that touch it. It makes us closer to each other and makes World little better and it deserves all money and all attention. See you at next Games! 🙂

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