Posted: 04 Mar. 2020 7 min. read

Going for gold! Ensuring Team GB is ready ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

There are only a few months to go until the nation comes together to support Team GB at one of the world’s greatest sporting events, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Deloitte is collaborating with Team GB to deliver a best-in-class approach to planning and readiness that supports the organisation and athletes alike, as they get ready to board the flight to Tokyo and all that lies beyond it.

From the opening ceremony to the close, the Olympics embodies excellence both on and off the field. We have been in our own pursuit of a ‘gold’ standard by supporting Team GB to plan and get ready for London 2012, Rio 2016 and now Tokyo 2020. Below we outline five considerations when designing your own planning and readiness approach for a high impact event¹:

1. False start! Operational planning and readiness are not the same
What if you have a great plan, but fail to deliver it on the big day? Operational planning has a strong focus on the activities that are fundamental to being ready ahead of a major event (such as ensuring all athlete competition wear is ordered and arrives on time) and monitoring progress along the ‘happy path’. However, the plan itself doesn’t make you ready and usually doesn’t consider how to deal with the ‘unhappy path’ (for example, what to do if the kit doesn’t fit the athletes once it has arrived?). At a key point in time, there should be a transition from planning to readiness, where you put your plan through realistic exercises using what-if scenarios and situational walk-throughs, to support a real-world test without the sometimes all too real and unwanted impacts. This stage is absolutely critical to be ready on day one of a major event.

2. Know what success looks like (both on and off the podium)
Align your planning and readiness approach to the strategic objectives of the big event. This enables all levels of your team to understand the value of their input and support operational delivery of a common goal with an immovable deadline. Such visibility and alignment generates a collective purpose and shared awareness, which enables ideas to be constructively checked and challenged. For example, will delivering this set of activities really enhance the performance of Team GB athletes during Games time? Knowing what ready looks like will help validate new processes or procedures in exercises and build enhanced resilience should something go differently to plan or an incident, issue or crisis occur.

3. Stay on track
Differentiate between strategic and operational risks and issues. Distinguishing between something that may happen (a risk) and something that is happening (an issue) gives you early sight of risks which may materialise before they turn into a real crises. Clarifying risks and issues as strategic (likely to affect the success of the event) or operational (needs to be managed effectively but should not derail the event) will support you to manage the risks and issues identified and apply resources appropriately.

A great example of this is Team GB volunteers who support the organisation during the Olympic Games. Volunteers play a critical role in mitigating local-level operational issues as they arise, alongside their infectious enthusiasm for moments such as ‘Super Saturday’ and the iconic sporting events themselves. Immersive scenario based training equips volunteers with clarity and capability to manage a broad spectrum of issues that have the potential to cause challenges during the live environment. This approach gives management confidence that the baton will be passed on to them should a significant issue surpass a pre-determined escalation point, allowing the response to be managed at a strategic level when required.

4. Quantify readiness to heighten intelligence and boost transparency
Defining what it means to be truly ready ahead of a major event is often a challenge for athletes and organisations alike. This can be addressed by defining readiness metrics for both the lead-up to and through the event period, that can be monitored on a regular basis. Interactive and analytical readiness visualisations based on these metrics provide intelligence on associated risks and issues that can drive decision making and help identify or analyse pain-points. Over a sustained period, this enables a progressive and data driven assessment of readiness over time.

5. Think crisis ready and event ready to keep the Olympic flame burning bright
In the run-up to a major event, carve out time for readiness exercises and tests of the ‘unhappy path’ with those who are critical to a response. Conduct readiness exercises through day-in-the-life simulations or situational-based immersive walk-through events to ensure your response is coordinated and measured should an incident, issue or crisis arise with little or no warning. Integrate stakeholders into training and exercises to provide an opportunity to establish wider alignment with pre-determined mitigation approaches and potentially quicker recovery times if required during a major event.


¹NOTE: A high impact event can be any strategic or significant change event, or launch, where the change is likely to have high impact if it goes wrong, or there is a high value attached to it going well.

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Key contacts

Rick Cudworth

Rick Cudworth

Partner, Crisis and Resilience

Rick has over 25 years’ industry-leading experience in Crisis Management and Resilience. He has been interim Group Head of Resilience for two global banks has supported and facilitated executive leadership in responding to crisis events. He is a recognised industry leader in his field and Chair of the British Institution Technical Committee for Continuity and Resilience.

Elizabeth Down

Elizabeth Down

Senior Consultant

Elizabeth focuses on operational readiness, contingency planning, crisis management and strategic risk. She is currently on secondment at Team GB, supporting the organisation to design and deliver an operational planning and readiness approach ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Elizabeth will actively support Team GB in the Games time environment during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.