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Earlier this week I went to a CSARN event in Glasgow on “The 2014 Commonwealth Games – the race for safety and security”. It’s aim was to look at the lessons learned from the Olympics and see how they applied to the Commonwealth Games. There were presentations from David Wilton Security Operations Manager for Glasgow 2014, Richard Tolley, Head of Sports and Events Practice from MARSH and Hamish Cameron, London Resilience Manager all talking about their learning points from the Olympics.

The one major point which a number of speakers did pick up on, was there was no clarity on who owned an incident which affected visitors on the way to the games. There were clear protocols on who managed the incidents in the venues, the transport system and in the wider London area but there was no protocols for the last mile between the station and the games venue. On the whole, my impression what that, yes there was minor learning points but there were no major points or ways they could have done it better. My theory is that, if you properly plan, do it in detail and in sufficient time, then your event however complex will probably go off without a hitch. I suspect luck always plays its part, but I do believe that if you do the planning then the event is almost an anti climax because it passes of without incident and all your well planed contingencies do not need to be used.

What are the lessons for us business continuity people?

  1. Planning makes perfect. The more detailed the planning and the more effort you put into the planning the better your plan will be.
  2. The one advantage the Olympic planners had, which we don’t have, is the date of the event. They knew when their incident was and so were able to work up to being ready for it. We have the opposite, we don’t know whether the event were planning for might occur before we have our plan ready. Just as difficult is how do we maintain our state of readiness? If the date is known then it is easy to build up to it. Our plans may not be used for 5 years or more so how do we sustain that state of readiness?
  3. On hearing those who were planning for the Commonwealth Games, I couldn’t help wondering if there might be a very slight hint of complacency. The Olympic Games were a great success because of the planning. Will the Commonwealth planners be able to meet the high expectations set by the Olympics by doing the detailed planning or will they be complacent and think they can achieve the same success but without doing the work?

This thought always reminds me of when I have done large and complex exercises which go without a hitch and are great success. The difficulty is that the second time you run it, perhaps for the deputies, it’s never so easy to get same enthusiasm, the planning is never as good, you forget the little details which made it such a success and the running of it on the day is not as smooth. Let’s hope that the new teams for the Commonwealth games do the necessary planning it takes to make the games a success.

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