What the Rio Olympics can teach us about managing a crisis.

By Amber Hudson and Luke Sklar 

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.

Nothing could be truer for the Rio Summer Olympics which is turning into quite the horror show: 

  • There’s the Zika virus and some aren’t taking any chances: golfer Rory McIlroy has dropped out and long jumper Greg Rutherford plans to freeze his sperm before heading to Rio. 
  • A “super bacteria” has been found in the water which can lead to urinary tract infections, gastrointestinal, pulmonary and bloodstream infections and meningitis.
  • Russia’s entire track and field team was banned because of wide-ranging doping accusations. 
  • Rio’s governor declared a state of financial emergency to prevent “a total collapse in public, security, health, education, transport and environmental management”.
  • President Dilma Rousseff is being impeached for illegally manipulating fiscal accounts. 

Let the Games Begin…you sure?  

With great respect to brands that have put significant time, energy and money into sponsoring the Olympics, we think there’s a strong case to be made for cancelling them.  Alas, the reality is, once the baby is born you can’t shove it back in.  So here are the lessons for when you are in so deep but you can’t call it quits:

  • Pull in a SWAT team – gather the facts to see what can be changed.
  • Then scenario plan – the odds of something else happening are high, prepare for it!
  • And finally ask the tough questions – sometimes the word “no” is the most courageous and liberating thing to say.

So are we continuing our track record of flawed predictions (ahem, Justin Bieber)?  Will we have egg on our face when everyone is clapping and cheering for a successful Olympic Games?  We hope so.