Political (stakeholder) imperatives rule in Delhi


Watching the Delhi circus, it is clear that the problems are likely to be declared resolved and at the end of the Games, we will no doubt hear the ritual statements about the ‘best games ever’. The gloss application has been apparent for the last couple of days despite the negative publicity.

Here we have a project which has gone off the rails big-time:-

  • Budget hugely over spent
  • Timetable blown even before weather impacts, yet monsoon will cop substantial blame in any official reports
  • Corruption, some officials arrested
  • Quality of deliverables seen in some areas at least as sub-standard
  • Questions over governance
  • Finger pointing in all directions

Yet the spin is now in full flow, for example, from Telegraph staff and agencies
Published: 4:01PM BST 23 Sep 2010

After several days of dire headlines, “better news” has now begun to emerge with authorities finally making progress in the key areas of athlete accommodation and stadium security.

“There has been progress and there is more to do,” said Mike Hooper, the chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation. “We’re concentrating on fixing the problems. My attitude is that the Games are on. We are working at the highest levels of government.”

Yet, is this not the same Hooper who was supposedly working with the highest levels previously and who some months ago was warning about lack of progress.

However, one can have sympathy with Dave Currie, NZ Chef de mission, who was reported as saying not only had he lost faith in the Indian Organising Committee, but in the Commonwealth Games Federation, which Hooper represents as well. because let’s take a look at this:-

Hooper onscreen praising the village. The NDTV clip makes the place look positively excellent.

But, and a big but, let us take another look, this BBC report, takes a slightly different view, but you can see how the tone of comments is changing as problems are downplayed. Yet as shown in the BBC report and in a BBC web gallery, there were significant issues in the village, despite the NDTV report above. A sample picture is below:-

Source BBC News

Not very salubrious.

Here we have a situation, where despite the clear non-performance and the failure to meet deadlines, budget and one might reasonably perceive quality, for a variety of reasons the criteria for success are being moved on an hourly basis.
It is a classic demonstration of political (stakeholder) imperatives over riding reality.
If the majority of issues are ‘fixed’ and the Games go ahead that does not mean that the project was a success whatever is said. Yet in common with many smaller projects carried out in business for example, a veil will be drawn for ‘political’ reasons over the failure. What we are seeing here on a very large scale is what happens many times in organisations both public and private all the time.
Some Thoughts:-

Many times the management of the perception is such that the failure may not even be apparent in many instances, especially if there is not a culture of robust, project reviews.

This situation points up the need for strong governance in programmes/projects

Furthermore, it makes clear the need for Executive Sponsors to be more than figureheads

Another point which emerges is the failure of outside reviewers, in this case the CGF, to have been effective. This reinforces the need for external review to be performed effectively and without fear or favour.
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