Going for gold! Business lessons from Olympic success - Broadley Speaking


Going for gold! Business lessons from Olympic success

As Andy Hunt reveals the plans for a GB Olympic Parade down the Mall to Buckingham Palace on 10 September, we can look ahead to a life without the London Games (what will glue us to the TV for entire weekends now?); and, not a moment too soon, begin to reminisce about this little island’s glorious sporting revival. As I write this, GB’s medal tally stands at 52: 25 golds, 13 silvers and 14 bronzes. We are third in the medal table, behind uber-countries USA and China. Per capita, we blow every other nation out of the water.  It seems unbelievable that, in Atlanta 1996, we won just 1 gold medal.

What this mega medal haul represents – and what we will remember London 2012 for – is the outstanding commitment, ambition, determination, passion  and resilience of the 541 athletes of Team GB.

Of course, the fantastic financial investment of the National Lottery cannot be overstated. The organisation’s contribution to nurturing British grassroots sporting talent gave the Olympic community the boost it so desperately needed to develop promising youngsters in to Olympic heroes.

But the human investment – the blood, sweat and tears of each competitor as they strove valiantly through yet another early-morning session on the track, or battled a heart-breaking injury on the eve of a competition – will prove the real legacy of these Games. These athletes are a shining example of an attitude we should all seek to emulate in our day-to-day lives.

Theirs’ is not a “what’s-in-it-for-me?” mind-set. The sponsors, communities, councils, families, coaches, and athletes worked unbelievably hard for little or no immediate reward to deliver the sporting spectacle we have come together to enjoy over the past two weeks. As Andy Murray revealed following his amazing demolition of Tennis World No. 1 Roger Federer to take Olympic gold at Wimbledon, “It’s about the process, not the 0utcome”. That, for all of us trudging through the daily grind, is a call for attention to detail; to take pride in the quotidian tasks; to never settle for 80% when every moment of our day can count for something.

As well as Hunt’s glorious Parade, no doubt we can expect the somewhat unedifying party-political fall out of these games: the tit-for-tat House debates about who first supported sporting excellence in youth, and who’s bright idea it was to snatch away their facilities (and, by snide implication, their dreams). Certainly, schemes to promote physical education in schools will be a fantastically positive legacy of London 2012.

However, to limit the legacy to the inspiration of just one generation is short-sighted; there are business lessons to be learned, here. For every temp, every account manager, every director and CEO, these Games can invigorate the daily processes, and show that there IS a point to it all: if we invest out time, harness our intelligence, and collect our skills we can make every business interaction count. For all those who sneaked peeks of the live coverage on their computers, and everyone who kept up with the medal tally via Twitter and Facebook : these Games were  for you.