I was at the International Congress for Project, Programme and Risk Management last Wednesday and Thursday and listened to some really interesting speakers. Liz Underhill, Programme Manager for the London Olympics Programme, spoke early on the first day about the progress so far on planning for the Games. What struck me about her role is the diversity of stakeholders that all need to be managed as part of this huge programme.
At government level, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has set up a Government Olympic Executive. Tessa Jowell is Minister for the Olympics and Paralympics.
Then there is the London Organising Committee which is responsible for the preparation and staging, broadcasting, services and sales. There will be around 100,000 people working for this Committee, 70% of them volunteers and contractors. This group is funded by the IOC, and of course they have their role to play too, and a seat on the board.
The four current main sponsors: EDF, Lloyds TSB, Adidas and British Airways, also expect to have a say in the way in which the programme is run, and their needs have to be taken into account to maximise the sponsorship arrangements.
The Olympic Delivery Authority exists to develop the Olympic Park and prepare the site, and given that the 250,000 hectare-site in East London is full of waterways, that means putting in a lot of bridges as well as the utilities and infrastructure that the area is lacking. This body is funded by the Lottery, council tax, the Mayor’s capital investment programme and the Exchequer. It’s the largest urban park development in 150 years, so all these people want to get the use of the land right.
The Greater London Authority has an interest in the site too: they form the strategic regional authority for London and are made up of the Mayor and the London Assembly. Throw into this Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade: none of whom are really ‘responsible’ for the Olympics or the redevelopment but all of whom need to be involved at one level or another.
There’s a further complication in that the land is actually owned by the London Development Agency. This group will be looking at how best to use the Park and Village during the Olympics but they are also responsible for owning the legacy, to ensure that London doesn’t get left with a big white elephant development to the east that no one ever visits from 2013.
Then there is the sports side. The British Olympic Association and the British Paralympic Association have also been heavily involved with defining the use of the various areas and the facilities for the athletes.
Finally, with the Mayoral elections coming up, Ken Livingstone may not be around to see the development through to the end, and there may be other political changes in the next four years too. It’s a challenging group of stakeholders with different needs and different political agendas creating a very complex delivery structure. In fact, it’s the largest single peace-time programme since WW2.
All these different players have agreed on a common vision – which is perhaps not that amazing after all. They are all working towards the same end goal, but I still wouldn’t have liked to have been the facilitator tasked with getting agreement on their vision statement:
“To host an inspirational, safe and inclusive Olympic and Paralympic Games and leave a sustainable legacy for London and the UK.”
We’ll have to wait and see how successful they have been.