Event organisers or hosts typically have large organisations comprising staff from varied backgrounds, levels of experience, expertise and often staffed from people from a diverse range or countries.
In many cases these people will have worked one or several previous events meaning they know how events operate, but will often lack knowledge of local practices and standards and regulations.
Being able to communicate and evaluate ideas quickly, discard what is not useful and extract feasible concepts is a super skill, and vitally important to be able to progress in a methodical and timely manner.
Whether organising a single discipline or multi-sport event, a host needs an organisational structure which can effectively lead and define what is required for a specific event or sport, and coordinate effectively internal departments and engage with external partners. The final decision-making lays with the host organisation and it is therefore necessary from the beginning for the host to understand which activities they must perform internally and those which maybe outsourced.
The organizational team needs to be able to define requirements in quantifiable and specific terms, issue, pull together design, budgeting, execution planning, operations, dismantling and venue hand back, as a well oiled machine.
Many Event organisations have more than 30 functional areas (departments) with staffing levels of 1000-2000+ in the build up period.
Lighting while only one of many activities to organize, plays an important role in establishing; playing conditions for athletes, the quality of televised and photographic images, sport presentation and lighting for media interviews and remote studios locations.
Lighting has to be coordinated planned and documented with all other services to ensure no clashes occur or that one system does not result in reducing the performance of another. All too often these clashes occur and are only captured on site at the time of installation, rather than being planned out in the pre-installation period.
Where events run into trouble is because of “Unexpected Unknowns”. The unknowns must re reduced through good pre planning to the point where the team understands completely the project. And what can be reasonably delivered with available resources / budget.
All too often projects start by benchmarking previously built venues or organised events. While benchmarking gives a certain feeling of security in that if a previous event organisation did it this way and was successful it will surely work for us too. After all its the same event isn’t it?.
In our experience, benchmarking rarely leads to success because the environment surrounding each event are often so different from each other and occurred sufficiently long ago that new techniques make the old obsolete. Hosting an event in Australia is going to be significantly different than hosting in Northern Europe, just from a climatic point of view, let alone availability of equipment and people.
By benchmarking a previous event you are limiting yourself to what others did several years before, maybe a decade, rather than creating an fresh experience in and around the specific host city and venues.
Benchmarking the previous event means you are working with out of date ideas and often the previous event was bench marked from a past event, meaning that the ideas and techniques being transferred from the last event cycle could actually be 10 to 15 years old.
Events are exciting to be involved with and develop. And can truly change cities for the better long term, if the right improvements are left behind. However often cities are left with legacy facilities which are not appropriate for a their future development. Having 10 new sporting venues in almost any city will create long term financial problems.
Legacies which deliver for the communities “post event” are typically those which fill the gaps people had in their lives before the event. These are more likely to be urban renewal, regeneration or improved transport infrastructure, more green space etc, while minimising the need to allocate huge resources to specific sporting venues which will not cover their cost of maintenance post games.
The temptation to Go Big” and create huge statements in sports events, to leave memorable legacies needs to be “weighed” against the facilities a city can afford and support long term in conjunction with social and urban regeneration.
This is why benchmarking can be a poor metric as it does not, cannot take account of the different paths each host was, or is on.
Once a host city / country has been awarded an event, the euphoria subsides and the enormity of the task ahead becomes very real. It is vitally important to take actions which do not need to be revisited or reworked. Just having to rework; one Functional Area (FA) event wide or venue across all FA’s will cause tremendous delay and have implications for other departments. At best this wastes resources (time and money) and at worst puts in jeopardy the ability to finish on time those activities.
The “never go back” principle is something we adopted through a pragmatic approach and step by step planning. With such large events you can never know all the details before moving on. If you wait to know every detail before pulling all plans together you will run out of time and money.
You have to create an organisation in which plans can be developed, agreed and actioned without going back on pre agreed approaches. A high degree of trust, respect for each other and team spirit is required to successfully deliver an event.