As we all slowly get over the “emotional hangover” of the Olympics (albeit with high hopes for a “hair of the dog pick-me-up” from the Paralympic Games), it got me thinking about legacies… And I don’t mean of a philanthropic nature.
One of the great “highs” of London 2012 was the feelgood-nature of the capital and its people – the enthusiasm of the volunteers, people of all nations chatting in pubs and bars, witty and informative Tube drivers, the absence of roadworks and so on.
How do we learn from that, bottle it and keep it going? Yes, there is a Legacy Authority, now appropriately chaired by Lord Coe, but that will focus on the infrastructure and ensuring we get more kids playing sport. These are critical activities, but who is looking at the whole feeling that swept the nation during the Games and how to keep that going?
Is that not what people will remember most in years to come – how the nation picked itself up from years of doom and despondency and became the showcase for the world?
When I started my first managerial role, I remember my mentor at the time taking me to one side, and saying that the first thing I should do is identify my successor.
This seemed an odd thing to say, but the point was that I should always be one step ahead – and identifying who I might hand the reins over to in the future would enable me to ensure that they were well prepared to continue the hard work that I would be putting in during that intervening two or three years.
Who is looking at the whole feeling that swept the nation during the Olympic Games and how to keep that going?
And that lesson has not been forgotten. I can look back at my career through a series of legacies – things that I did in each of those businesses that are still being done today.
Whether that be the launch of a product, a brand positioning, a structure/process or even someone I personally hired who has survived, it is heart-warming to see.
I can still see my fingerprints in just about every role I performed. The exception being one job where I left before I felt my work was complete. This is in itself a lesson – don’t just focus on the radical, put in place the smaller building blocks too because they may far outlive your major revamp.