For me, the Olympic games is more about the taking part rather than the winning. However, that being said, one can only look at team GB’s medal results with absolute amazement. How can a country so small out-perform every other country in the world apart from the US?  It was not that long ago that ‘Team Great Britain’ used to be right down at the very bottom of the medal tables with only the odd hero, here and there proving themselves to be extraordinary.  Today Great Britain is even above Russia, China and Germany. So what’s changed?

Unlike the ‘Leicester City’ football club story, team ‘GB’s new found status cannot be put down to a new manager or team attitude. It has to be much more than that.  And it is.

For a start, it’s a question of money.  For every medal won, Great Britain has invested more than 5,5 million EUR (coming mostly from the National lottery revenue). But money is only a part of the story.  The secret lies in knowing exactly where to invest and how.  In business we call this process building a business case. We use Net Present Value (NPV) and other matrices to measure how likely we will be in achieving a good return on our investment. Not just in money but in terms of time and effort too.  “If we weren’t doing this, what else could we have been doing, that may have proved better for our business?”

It appears that the UK sport’s governing body does exactly the same thing with the heads of their various sporting disciplines (athletics, swimming, cycling, hockey etc.). Basically they ask three simple questions.

  1. Give us a list of the names of those people that are likely to win an Olympic medal at the next Olympics and/or the games thereafter.
  2. Explain in detail how much money you need and exactly what you will do with the money should we invest in you.
  3. How many medals (Gold, Silver, Bronze) do you feel confident in delivering?

The result of this process is that any sport (or person) that is unlikely to win a medal in the foreseeable future, is extremely unlikely to receive funding, no matter how beneficial the investment might have proved in other terms.

I just wonder if this is A) right in general. B) right for business?  Either way, no one can deny the Olympic medal score list!

Have a good week – the summer holiday period, is nearly finished!