4 Project Management Lessons Learned from World Cup Planning
Our northern neighbor is shifting from the land with maple syrup and moose into the land for hat tricks, and dangerous plays. Tens of thousands of tourists have visited Canada as part of the Women’s World Cup. It began on Saturday. Although attendance is not as high as the World Cup, Edmonton officials are working hard to prepare their city to host the swarms of soccer (or football!) tourists.
It takes a lot of planning to organize the World Cup and Women’s World Cup. Project managers can learn a lot from these events to improve their trade.
Here are four examples.
1. Start early for large projects.
Take a look at Brazil’s World Cup disaster last year. The Cup was spread across 12 cities (an acknowledged mistake) and cost $13.5 billion dollars. There was no infrastructure improvement.
Brazil was made to suffer from delays that could have been anticipated (weather and protests), or prevented (deaths of construction workers). Unexpected, unpreventable delays, such as the outbreak of swine influenza, should be considered part of the risk management analysis. As the linked article explains, Brazil should have mapped out possible problems and prioritized their responses accordingly. Brazil should have been able to take more time to accomplish all they wanted.
2. Don’t reinvent the engine.
Canada’s cities have done a great job of using the resources they have to host the Women’s World Cup, which is expected to draw record crowds and good ratings in the United States. Canada hosted the event between Edmonton, Moncton and Montreal. Canada didn’t need to build any new stadiums for the Women’s World Cup.
Brazil, on the contrary, attempted to restructure itself as a country for last year’s World Cup. Brazil’s decision not to build seven more stadiums was a mistake.
Realizing your own capabilities can be difficult, especially when you have a tight deadline. There is project management software that can help you determine your capabilities.
3. Take your stakeholders seriously
Canada and FIFA are not the only organizations involved in hosting the World Cup. There are also attendees, commercial partners like Visa or Coca-Cola and host cities as well as non-governmental organizations.
The players are the reason there is no World Cup. Canada made this mistake early on. One group of Women’s World Cup athletes went so far as to sue FIFA for making them play on artificial grass, a synthetic surface that can cause injury to players. The players eventually withdrew the complaint but not before the controversy globally embarrased Canada and gave FIFA critics even more ammunition for their ongoing controversies.
Stakeholders should be treated with care to avoid fiascos and increase communication between them. Communication is key to ensuring that the final product is closer to what all parties envisaged at the beginning.
4. Be realistic.
Even the most experienced project managers can find it difficult to say “no”, and Brazil found this too difficult. Brazil made big promises in their bid to win the bid but they couldn’t keep them. Research had shown that Brazil would not be able to complete upgrades to Brazilian airports before the World Cup began. These forecasts were ignored by President Dilma Rohff, who ordered a “strong intervention” that made sure the airports were ready. This included allowing private investors to participate in airport construction, and directing more resources to the project (taking resources away from other projects).
The airports weren’t completed in time. The elevators were broken, leaving disabled people without an exit route. Illegal taxi drivers swarmed departures and a