Many of us look back on the London 2012 Olympics with fond memories. For me, it was about memorable days at the volleyball and badminton with my sister and two nephews. But it was also about the sheer energy and excitement that surrounded the event.
The success of the London 2012 Olympics makes it a great engagement case study, so I was delighted to be invited to the London Business Forum recently to see a presentation by Jean Tomlin, the event’s HR Director.
You can view the full talk and also download the audio at the London Business Forum site. Here are just five of Jean’s insights that resonated with me.
1. Clarity of mission, vision and values
Establishing a clear sense of purpose is fundamental to engagement. Yet few organisations seem to do it really well. Jean and her team had a clear engagement goal: to engage their people to a level where they felt “an unbreakable connection to the vision”.
To do that, of course, you need a simple, inspiring vision to capture the minds of your organisation – and this one delivers.
2. Focus on face-to-face communication
I’m always interested in other organisations’ internal communications tactics, and the Olympics stood out with its focus on creating face-to-face time to ‘listen with both ears’. The slide below gives a taste of the sheer number of forums created to enable two-way communication (click the image for a larger view).
I also liked their focus on giving each other permission to be ‘professionally direct’ in their feedback – in the interests of running the best possible Olympics. By delivering this message to everyone from the start, it helped to reduce the possibility that people would take feedback personally.
3. Stakeholder mapping
The Olympics – as with so many major events and projects – was a team effort involving many different stakeholders. Each had a crucial role to play in its success.
The team clearly mapped these stakeholders, then ensured effective channels were in place to make them feel part of the wider team. This was a key part of how the Olympics’ engendered that sense of pride and excitement throughout the country.
Stakeholder mapping is important in every major project, but it’s one that’s easy to miss if you’re short of time or under-resourced.
4. A training vision
With high quality training central to the Olympics’ success, the team established a clear vision for what they wanted to achieve through it:
‘Training that not only increases ability, but also lifts people’s spirits and commitment’
Doesn’t that set a completely different tone from a vision which focuses purely on ability?
The 2012 Olympics had a clear focus on inclusivity, reflected not only in their policies but also in their leadership pledge.
But in a wider sense, I also loved their focus on ‘bringing your own personality to work’ – particularly with the 70,000 volunteer Games Makers.
At the events I attended, the Games Makers clearly exercised that freedom to express themselves. They’d been trained in their role, but felt comfortable being themselves and having a good time too. As a result they were, for many, what made the London 2012 Olympics special.