On Time, On Budget, but Was It Wow?

Am I the only person who is frustrated at the wave of negativity in the UK media about the 2012 London Olympics? It has been almost sixty years since the UK hosted a Games, and even then the IOC asked London to host the 1948 games when the world was recovering from six years of carnage and in economic turmoil. Well, the celebrations of July 6, 2005, after the London bid beat Paris' by 54 votes to 50, have long since abated, and we now have general carping and scoring of political points about the eventual cost of staging the Games and who will have to pay. But what about the benefits?

If cleaning up and refurbishing one of London's biggest industrial wastelands and installing a world-class array of sports facilities with a supporting transport infrastructure isn't a Wow! Project, then I don't know what is. Then there is the challenge of the events themselves and the inspiration that having the Games here has already given to youngsters dreaming of their own future sporting prowess. It speaks to a level of ambition that seems to be sadly lacking in many of our public and private enterprises. I recall Tom Peters speaking in London about the Channel Tunnel being THE civil engineering project that he (as an ex civil engineer) would love to have directed. That project went a little over the original budget forecast, too, as I recall!

To transform our flagging businesses and run-down communities will take bold ambition, and a willingness to pitch, win, and deliver projects of vision and magnitude. At the end of the day, the only success criterion that really counts is "Was it Wow?"