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Communication on a Global Scale

Organising global events such as the World Cup isn’t quite as simple as putting on a couple of football matches. The level of preparation that goes into large sporting events would blow the average project manager’s mind and that’s why an entire committee dedicates time to making it work.

Without dwelling too heavily on the ongoing political complications that Russia is facing in its preparations for their rendition of the world cup in 2018, we’d like to analyse and discuss the obstacles that host countries are faced with and how their predecessors have succeeded or failed in their own journeys.

Obviously it is worth at least mentioning that Russia is under fire once more in the lead up to their next sporting event. During the Sochi Winter Olympics there were major concerns regarding a range of topics that sparked the debate as to whether Russia was indeed a suitable choice for hosting the next World Cup. With further issues plaguing the Russian shores, there are many who would seek to replace Russia as the 2018 World Cup hosts. The latest in a long string of negative Russian press is the news that three Crimean football teams have swapped unlawfully to Russian leagues, which has presumably been facilitated by RFU President, Nikolai Tolstykh. The move could risk Russia’s World Cup hopes which in turn could prove costly for Russian economy.

It isn’t entirely clear what the political agenda of Russia is or if it does in fact have any bearing on their decisions regarding the World Cup. However, with their title as hosts currently under meticulous scrutiny it is essential that the Russian World Cup Committee turn this around with some exemplary risk and project management.

They wouldn’t be the only ones to have made the best out of a bad situation. In the lead up to this year’s World Cup hosted by Brazil there were riots and complaints of incomplete stadiums galore. Yet once the event was in full swing there was nothing stopping the Brazilians, nor the visitors, from enjoying world-class football and having a good party. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the World Cup in Brazil was a total success, and if the Russian Committee is to be successful there are a lot of things they can learn from Brazil’s attempt.

Whilst the Brazilian World Cup was widely considered a success in the following weeks, with Sao Paolo’s city hall even reporting an estimated £272million injection into local economy, there were problems in terms of what the Brazilian Committee promised and what they ultimately pulled off.

This is a problem that plagues not only global events but small infrastructure projects, commercial projects and even interactions between colleagues. Everyone likes ambition and vision, but without the ability to actually change these visions into products and services, you lose credibility and place significant risk on the outcome of the project.

It’s a simple case of clear, concise communication. It’s easy to get carried away in a boardroom when you’re brainstorming the ideas for improved infrastructure, and it’s fine to be ambitious, but having the resources to back it up is absolutely vital. Being transparent with team members and the public allows you an improved opportunity to deliver what you promised. This provides you with a chance to over-deliver rather than overpromise.

The second step of course is implementing proper plans and sticking to deadlines, this includes being realistic about budgets. Continued communication through this stage can ensure that projects remain on target at all times and that any problems are swiftly reviewed and resolved.

Most importantly though, is that members of the committee work together and discuss each process that they apply to their plans. As mentioned at the beginning, the sheer amount of information to take in regarding a global sporting event is far too large for any project manager to handle alone. Each committee member will work with their own team but also in connection with other teams. Global sporting events are Super Projects where one project is made up by many, where everything from the transport systems to stadium construction requires hundreds if not thousands of people working towards the same goal. The key to achieving this goes back to communication.

In creating the perfect event, it is important to have the strongest teams doing what they are best at. It is down to project managers to identify strengths and weaknesses and use this knowledge to their advantage.

Russia now have the Winter Olympics under their belt and at least one of their stadiums already constructed in preparation for 2018’s World Cup. It is clear that getting things to happen isn’t the Russian problem. All they have to do is navigate the political minefield ahead, and that will take no small amount of communication.