Tuesday, September 15, 2009

2010 Olympics: 19 Venues, 23 Committees; and Running Behind Schedule

"India admits 2010 Games problems"
BBC (September 15, 2009)

"India needs to take immediate steps to ensure that it is in a position to host the 2010 Commonwealth Games, a top sports official has said.

"The Indian Olympics Association secretary general, Randhir Singh, said some of the concerns raised over the progress of preparations were valid.

"His comments follow a warning from the Commonwealth Games chief that Indian plans were severely behind schedule.

"There are also concerns over security arrangements and housing for guests.

"In a letter to the local organising committee, Commonwealth Games Federation chief Mike Fennell is reported to have warned that India's preparations were behind schedule...."

A few months ago, the article says, a government report said that development on 13 of 19 sports venues was running behind schedule. A bit over 2/3 running behind? Yeah, I'd say that could be an issue.

Randhir Singh says the venues and the infrastructure to support them will be ready.

"...'There is not a lot to be fixed, but we have to get it activated,' Mr Singh said.

"Earlier, he told The Indian Express newspaper that games authorities needed to 'wake up, decentralise, ensure our concerned departments and stakeholders come together. Knowing the capabilities that we have, there is no reason why we can't deliver'.

"Mr Singh said there were 23 committees looking into various organisational aspects of the Games, but 'the chairmen of those committees hardly meet'...."

With so much to lose, I think that India will, somehow, get their 2010 Olympic venues up and running - even if it means committee chairmen duct-taping pipes together themselves. They're off to a good start: the Indian supreme court threw out an environmentalist lawsuit, involving humans and the River Yamuna.

Mr. Singh's advice to "wake up, decentralize" is a hopeful sign, too. Apart from justifying the existence of quite a few positions in management, I don't think that a company works better when it's micro-managed. Think about it: how much work gets done, while a supervisor's supervisor holds up last week's restock of office supplies, deciding which brand of pen to order?

I'll admit to a bias: I think it makes sense to find a few people who have the necessary skills, give them the specifications and the deadline, ask what they'll need, and then get out of the way.

I ran into an observation about management styles some time ago: "The perfect emperor does nothing, rides on the perfection of his ministers." Lockheed called a division of their company that's run that way "The Skunk Works."

Back to India: From the BBC article, it sounds like the people responsible for getting India's Olympic venues up and running are going through a learning experience. As I said, I think the odds are that they'll get the job done: one way or another.

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