In all Olympic events, there are general issues emerged, like housing, transportation, traffic, etc. In the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic however, observers stated that there are additional burden, which resulted the Games to be more difficult to manage compare to others previously held. Before elaborating the specific variables which have caused problems within the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Games, I will describe the generic variables of managing a large and internationalized project like Olympics.

Despite the numerous studies conducted toward the project management field, there is still no valid consensus about the variables that influences the workings of a project. There is sill no valid consensus among researchers about what make some project succeeded and others failed. However, to simplify the evaluation of a project, the definition of variables effecting project management is still required. All the variables defined by many researchers can be divided into four large categories.

§  technical category,

§  social category,

§  environment category and

§  Availability of resources category

 

II.1.1   Technical Category

The technical category includes individual capabilities, technical difficulty, trouble shooting (Pinto & Slevin, 1988), system capability (Kloman, 1972), Integration Risk (Parsons, 2002), etc. In managing Olympics, most of the factors involved within this category are generic factors in managing all Olympics.

For instance, the capabilities if individuals are relatively constant. They are members or associates of the IOC. The IOC generally sends one or several teams of representatives to the hosts. The representatives would then collaborate with local management teams that are responsible for hosting the Olympics. There is always a considerable watch over the credibility of core people involved in managing the Games. Therefore, there is enough reason to categorize this factor as a generic factor among most modern Olympics.

However, there are also factors within this category that differs for most Olympics management. One of them is the technical difficulty factor. Different hosts have different problems in preparation of Olympics. For instance, some host might have almost every infrastructure required to run the games –like streets, housings, etc-, while others might have to undergo giant projects in order to be adequately prepared.

II.1.2   Social Category

The social category consists of feedback, communication, organization teamwork, leadership, engineer-scientist coordination, etc. The category represents significant differentiation among all Olympic hosts. If there is anything generic about this category, it is its high level of difficulty to be managed. Despite the fact that IOC is in a constant watch of every host in Olympic management practices, different hosts have different quality of leaders, commitment, focus and empowerment within their local organization. It influences their ‘style’ in managing the colossal event.

II.1.3   Environment Category

This category includes geographical dispersion, politics, external support, etc. This category represents the relationship between Olympic hosts and their local and national environment. Naturally, this is the category that receives the most attention from external parties, for instance, the national government, the local government, various organizations of sports, economic analysts, environmentalist, etc. Generally, due to the fact that the hosts themselves have gone through a painful bidding process in order to host the Olympic Games, there is little to concern about this category. Nevertheless, most of them –like the national government and independent analysts- usually keep a close watch over management of the game and how it affects various fields.

II.1.4   Availability of Resources Category

The difficulty of obtaining the required resources is a generic issue among all Olympic hosts. Analysts would even compare the expenses of each game, in order to compare which was the largest and which was the more efficient. Within this event, to be insufficient in funding and other resources are very much unlikely. The hosts have all succeeded in winning the bid, and thus, they have generally prepared abundant resources to support the event. The Game is always marked with spending frenzy of various resources. Nevertheless, an anomaly has occurred in the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Games. This anomaly –which will be discussed in later part of the essay-, is the reason why this particular event is often studied.

II.2      Challenges Within the 2002 Winter Games

After defining the generic factors involved within managing Olympics, I will now elaborate the reason why the 2002 Winter Games have considerably different challenges.

II.2.1   2002 Winter Olympic Bid Scandal

In 1998, two reporters founded that several officials of the IOC has taken bribe money in relation to the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Games bidding process. Furthermore, there are also reports that members of the local group responsible for Salt Lake City’s Olympic (SLCO)bid had bribed The IOC to win the bid. Investors of the game were highly influenced by the scandals. The budget given to the project manager was cut down severely to reflect the millions of revenue dollars unlikely to materialize. This single factor is the cause of ‘shortcomings’ in many aspects of the game management.

The scandal that affected the project management of the games was involving allegations of bribery to obtain the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. The city had attempted several times to secure the games, but constantly failed. After the city had finally succeeded in wining the Olympic bid, the IOC were accused of taking bribes from SLOC. The scandal broke on December 10, 1998, when a head of the coordination committee announced that several members of the IOC had take bribes. Soon after, ten members of the IOC were expelled and ten others were sanctioned. Despite the exposed fact that it was not the first time bribery had happened within the IOC, the 2002 Winter Olympic was the first to be promoted with a dark image hanging above IOC’s –and SLOCs- image (‘2002 Winter,’ 2006).

American Congress members have also stated their disappointment toward the local members of SLOC. They believed that the organization performed illegal actions to bring millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money into their city management. Soon after, a ranking Democrat on the House Commerce Committee specifically asked the General Accounting Office to ensure that all the money resulted from Olympic campaigns would be used by Salt Lake City for roads, mass transits and other projects linked to the Games (‘Olympic Ethics’, 1999).

 

II.        Effects of the Scandal

Viewed from the generic category of project management, the scandal has tremendous effect on at least three out of the four category of project management elaborated previously. The are the social, environment and resource availability category. Within the social and external environment category, the scandal causes changes of leadership and also increasing scrutiny from authorities (national government and IOC). It was obviously necessary to re-build the sense of trust among investors and partners. The working environment can be considerably uncomfortable due to the thick atmosphere of suspicion. A new and credible leadership is required to set things back on track.

You May Also Like:  Intercultural Analysis of "Crash"

In the resource availability category the scandal have the largest effects. As a direct result of the scandal, US West, a regional telecommunications company, has refused to send more installments from their planned $ 60 million sponsorship. US West were the first among many that refused to continue their installment sponsorship plan toward the Games. The phenomena caused a deficit of SLOC’s budget as much as $357 million (‘Salt Lake Olympics’, 1999). SLOC had to re-configure their financial and incorporated a huge cost cut activities in order to get the game running.

III.              Project Management

Prior to evaluating how the SLOC managed the already ‘troubled’ 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, it is necessary to understand the underlying concepts of project management. In its very simple definition, Project Management is the discipline of defining and achieving target by maximizing the use of available resources. Resources including money, time, people, materials, energy and space are gathered and managed efficient & effectively to produce the best possible result, during the course of a project. In a sense, project management is the effort to gain control over five variables, time, cost, quality, scope and risk. A problem in controlling one of the variables will disrupt the workings of the entire management system.

III.1    Concurrent Construction

A more novel concept of project management -although hardly new- is the Concurrent Construction (CC) concept. CC is an integrated approach to the planning and execution of all project activities. It is the latest development from the concept of integrated design of project management, from the conceptualization stage through completion. Some of the underlying principles of CC are: Integration of all project phases into a single phase, integration of total project information, establishment of direct and real-time intra- and inter team communication. It its practice, advanced communication technology and real time communication system is highly required.

III.2    Managing Global Projects

In case of managing a global project or a project with global staff –like the Olympics, there are several factors that hold increasing importance. One of the most important is technology. Being global will require more than a spreading of technology. A more careful selection of networks and infrastructure will be required to get the job done (Gunderloy, n.d). Cost management will be a major issue and management will need to evaluate obstacles such as communication, airport infrastructure, power & politics, and languages. A coordination plan that addresses all the issues mentioned will be required and extra effort is important to monitor and keeping the project on track (Murphy, n.d).

 

IV.              Project Strategy, Project Leadership and Project System

The 2002 Winter Olympic Games were highly influenced by the financial deficit of the committee. It was far from the general spending frenzy that typically surrounds the games. In 1998, Japan spent $2.7 billion for their winter games, which was twice the cost of the previous Winter Olympics. However, the budget for the Salt Lake City Winter Games was only $1.32 billion. For an extreme statement, Fraser Bullock, the financial manager of Salt Lake Olympic Committee stated that they are not trying to put the best game ever, but instead, just trying to put the games (Harris, 2000).

 

IV.1    Project Strategy

Due to the existing challenges, financial strategy has been made the core project strategy. The financial strategy of SLOC is to restore confidence and the image of the game by performing cost cutting and keeping their books wide open. In Olympics, sponsors generally provide half of the budget for winter games. SLOC has the obligation to restore their confidence in the game. The entire system of managing the project is therefore, severely impacted by the strategy.

In order to cut unnecessary cost, Bullock re-categorized all expenses as must-haves, nice-to-haves and non-necessities. For example, 400-meter speed-skating course, with safety padding and viewing stands is a must-have facility. Permanent seats, which are more expensive than temporary seats are nice-to-haves. Most of the non-necessities are practically ‘out of the budget’. The classification changed many things. The traditional trip to the home of IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland was instantly replaced by conference calls. There is no more ‘fancy’ dinner and lunches, free souvenirs to SLOC visitors, and furthermore, Bullock eliminate contingency funds from individual budgets of all of the SLOC managers.

The cost cuts are considerably effective. Staff and administration reduction were in total of 40 million or 12 percent of the original budget. By using a new and ‘simpler’ sponsor for the food services, SLOC saved millions. Similar cost cuts were happening with sponsors of information technology and other areas. Even the traditionally ‘sacred’ methods, like using volunteer staffs were reduced. Bullock found that by reducing the amount of volunteers, SLOC will save money from ‘not producing’ uniforms, food and supports.

Even with the cost cuts, SLOC remained optimist that the international event will still be something for people to see. Bullock stated that they will use any resource available, including the beauty of the mountains the surrounded the area. The fact the Utah had already many supporting infrastructures for the winter games was also very helpful.

 

IV.2    Project Leadership

IV.2.1 Hard and Soft Paradigm

Researchers have developed a standard that differentiates between several types of leadership styles. There are two paradigms that shape the tendencies of managerial leadership. The two paradigm are hard and soft paradigm. The hard paradigm is often associated with values such as rationalistic, positivistic, scientific, reductionism (Oakley, 2003) or quantitative (Higgs, 2001). Meanwhile, the soft paradigm is associated with concepts such as hermeneutic, qualitative, phenomenological, interpretive, reflective, inductive or ethnographic (Ticehurst & Veal, 2000).

Both paradigms represent the opposite polar that builds leadership styles. Most leaders have a tendency to use certain paradigm more than the other; however, both of them are useful if utilized in the appropriate manner and time. In case of the 2002 Winter Games management –as will be elaborated below-, the leaders managed to take advantages of both paradigms to gain support and accomplished the task at hand.

 

IV.2.2 Fraser Bullock

Bullock was in charge of bringing the 2002 Olympic preparations back to its sense. He himself is an expert in cost cuts. In 1980, he was appointed CFO of a financially troubled World Airways Inc. Before coming to the SLOC, he made a fortune by assembling companies from fragmented industries. He is famous as an expert in the path of ‘hard paradigm’ His famous philosophy was “finance is not a threat, its and asset’ (Harris, 2000).

Nevertheless, some articles mentioned that Bullock was not ignorant when it comes to the values within the soft paradigm. Many predicted that Bullock’s cost cuts will bring a lot of hatred toward the Financial Manager. However, Bullock seemed to understand that to proceed with the cost cut strategy; he would need the support of his the staffs.

You May Also Like:  Living, Surviving and Learning: Lessons of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Allinger, a former silver medalist for speed skating, stated that the financial manager has a lot of faith toward his staff. He never interfered with detailed decision of his staff, but he made sure that they knew the ‘lack of choice’ scenario, behind the strategy of cost cuts. SLOC vice president, Cindy Gillespie stated that they have gone through quite a mind shift. Despite the fact that she had experienced becoming a staff of the 1996 Atlanta Games –where the work philosophy was to create ‘the greatest games ever’-, she understand that the 2002 winter game would be an ‘essentials-only’ games (Harris, 2000).

In addition, Bullock made sure that he gave proof that items would be added back from the central contingency fund if necessary. For example, he brought back $135,000 for a special pedestrian bridge at the Soldier hollow cross country biathlon venue. The step was taken to address the security concerns that athletes and spectators would be sharing venue access (Harris, 2000). This was an example of well managed coordination between engineers-scientist and the managers.

 

IV.2.3 Milt Romney

After the embarrassing scandal that hit the SLOC,  the organization turn to a venture capitalist, Milt Romney, to clean up their act through reorganization and selection of new management. Romney was known for his expertise in reviving troubled businesses. The Republican seemed almost welcoming to the scrutinize look that everyone gave to him as he took the job. He stated that SLOC would not spend more money that they can take in at the time. He promise and ethical game and game management throughout the winter Olympic (‘Romney hired’, 1999).

Romney has calmed old corporate supporters and lured new ones. He managed to add 24 sponsors and suppliers and increase revenues by $ 178.5 million. Some of the investors were coming back because they were pleased with how Romney and Bullock had run the organization. Romney and his team helped the Olympics back onto their feet. The game was so different form projections that it actually turned into a profit of USD $ 100 million, the largest for winter games (‘2002 winter’, 2006).

 

IV.3    Project System

The system of managing the giant event was complicated and involved a wide range of advanced communication technology and system expert. The preparation involved local as well as international parties through out the world.

 

IV.3.1 Infrastructure

§  Traffic Issues

As mentioned before, the SLOC is helped the existence of a sufficient infrastructure of Salt Lake City. For example, the state of Utah had undertaken a giant project of enhancing transportation infrastructure by widening 16 mile roads, 9 interchanges, 144 bridges and involved 3.2 million square yard of concrete. All the bridges and stretch of pavements is scheduled for replacement. 1,000 lightning features are installed to illuminate roadway, bridges underpasses and tunnels (‘Olympic City’, n.d).

§  Housing Issues

Cooperating with the state Division of Facilities Construction & Management, SLOC built a $ 120 million student housing project that will be used as the athletes village during the 2002 Winter Olympics. Construction was speeded up to be occupied by university students at least a year before the games. The objective was to find and correct any mistakes in the design of the building before the athletes arrived. The state paid for $ 90 million and SLOC paid for $ 30 for the entire project. The design was so complex, but contractors managed to finish the project on schedule (‘Contractors site’, 2001).

 

IV.3.2 Technology

The Salt Lake City Olympics draws attention not only due to the amount of scandals that surround it, but also to the technological design of the management system. The high-tech management system inspired the IOC to perform a new ‘recycling’ technological strategy for Olympics. In simple terms, the recycling technology means that the technological infrastructure from previous Olympic will renewed, redesigned and reset for the next game. On other worlds, the high tech equipment used in Salt Lake City Olympics will be used to support the Athens Olympic Games.

In Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, management used 900 servers, mostly from Sun Microsystems, and 10,500 PCs, mostly from Dell. The main application set was called the Games Management System, written specifically for the Salt Lake City Games. The software made possible the automation of events scheduling, transport schedules for athletes and volunteers and accreditation for 200,000 other participants of the Olympics Games (media, VIP’s, volunteers and staffs). Another application system, the Information Diffusion System (IDS) collected the scores and times and disseminates them to the media and various websites. Despite the tight budget, the success of the technology systems is very visible (‘Olympic Recycling’, 2005).

 

V.        Lesson Learned

The SLOC had successfully turned an under budget project into profitable ones. The values of managing a global project were implemented appropriately. The sense of direction was given when SLOC stated that performing a modest budget Olympic Games was the primary goal. Leadership and the ability to delegate were also performed by the CFO and the leader of the project. They manage to bring back sponsors and induced confidence within the organization. The Game was considered to be the benchmark that restores the image of Olympic after the controversy of a scandal (‘Evolution of Olympic’, 2006).

 

VI.              The London 2012 Olympic Games

London is the favored location for the 2012 Olympic Games. In light of the lesson taken from 2002 Olympics, there are several aspects to be considered:

§  Proper Conduct

Despite the success of 2002 Winter Games, the embarrassing scandal that hit the heart of IOC and other National Olympic Committees (NOC) will still echo in the minds of public and more importantly investors. The 2002 Olympic had proven that investors are highly sensitive toward legal accusations. The 2012 Olympic committee must deliver their best effort to maintain a clear image that everything within the game is nothing but fair and transparent (‘Olympic Bid Allegations’, 2004).

§  A More Technical Plan

The 2002 Olympics also revealed certain problems regarding their infrastructure. There are social issues within the manner which they built dome of the housing for athletes. This should not be repeated in the 2012 Olympics. Games conducted outside the Great Britain must be well-connected to the area. Traffic and transportation plan must be laid out transparently in order to ensure the athletes receive the proper treatment (‘Revamp’, 2004).

§  Safety Concerns

Inviting athletes and ambassadors form the entire world, the London bid team should ensure that the place is safe enough to be in. The London explosion that happened in the middle of 2005 was bad signs of security issues (Pye, 2005).