The Commonwealth Games (CWG) are now over and Delhi can start to get back to normal. I’ve been working in India during October and have the benefit of both a local and foreign view. As project sponsors, managers and stakeholders we can learn a lot about perception and stakeholder management.
In the lead up to the games poor quality infrastructure was the focus of media attention. The situation was rescued in the final weeks by throwing people at the problem. Problems have been largely blamed on corrupt officials and suppliers; an investigation is now being launched by the Prime Minister.
Many questioned the relevance of the sports represented at CWG to a nation obsessed by cricket. Surely there were better things to spend £1.5bn on?
During the games problems with the official web site delayed important information from being disseminated. Attendance was initially poor due to an unclear process to purchase tickets and unreliable transportation.
In the weeks leading up to the CWG according to a Times of India (TOI) poll “97% of the respondents believed that the Union and Delhi governments and the Games organizing committee (OC) had tarnished the image of the country”. A further “71% of the respondents felt that the situation was so grave it could no longer be salvaged”.
After India’s success in the medal tally following the games closing ceremony “…85% of those surveyed felt the Games were a hit”. What a difference a few weeks can make! In this case the public focus was directed to more positive news and a huge shift in support followed.
Problems, especially those that can be communicated in 30 seconds with a clever headline and picture such as a collapsed bridge, grab attention. No one likes to be associated with a failure and it becomes easy to find further reasons to criticise. However once popular opinion changes, everyone wants to be associated with success. Perception can be everything.
Glasgow 2014, as well as any major programme, can learn a lot.
But what has this all got to do with Pelicam and project assurance? If the Organising Committee had an impartial and accurate view of status (which was particularly important given some of the cultural issues involved in the project) they would have had an opportunity to rectify risks and issue before they became major high profile problems. Project assurance would have identified unsound success criteria for different stakeholder groups and provided an opportunity to put in place plan to address.
Not all projects are on the scale of a worldwide sporting event but the basics are exactly the same as projects being run in millions of businesses today. Project assurance can ensure yours doesn’t become the next Terminal 5 or CWG 2010.