In 2005, Lord Paul Deighton resigned from an executive position with Goldman Sachs to become CEO of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee. The reason of this "leap of faith," he says, was because he knew the London Games would be a great success. How can the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games tap into his vision and learn from his approach? In a recent interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, he offered his suggestions.
The Yomiuri Shimbun: When you applied for the London Olympic Games CEO post, what were your thoughts?
Lord Deighton: It seems a much smarter decision now than it looked to me at that time! But it reflected facts that I understood immediately - putting together London with the greatest sports event in the world was the most wonderful combination. Even in 2005, I knew London 2012 would be wonderful, though I do not think everybody saw it at that time. Maybe that was why I was the right choice, because I immediately got it, the vision was in my head. And I picked those senior people who had the same thing in their head.
Q: You came to Tokyo to share your experience with the Tokyo 2020 organizer. What would be the key approach we can learn from this?
A: When people would ask me when we were preparing for the Games "how do you measure success," I would say "at the end of the Games by the number of people in the United Kingdom who say they have been part of it." And I want to get to a 100 per cent.
I usually divide the approach into three areas.
Number one, I say just remember the magic of the Games. You've got something which can tap people's emotions and inspire them like nothing else. The difficult part of emotion and magic about it is nobody ever understands this till they had the experience of the Games. Because when you are planning, it is all about numbers, buildings, and it is hard for you to realise that what is different and special about it is the emotion. So I always start it off with this magical thing, which is caused by having the world greatest athletes, all these different countries together, and just the sheer size of everything. There is really no comparison. And you do not need to come up with anything new. It is inherently extremely powerful. Your job is to provide the platform to unleash that power. When you are the organising committee you have the magic dust. And you have to think about how you share that, so everybody can join in.
The number two is how you do it, the project management techniques. It is such a big and difficult task with an immovable deadline called the opening ceremony. I always compare it to skiing, imagining you are on the steepest black run with the biggest moguls, if your technique is ever not perfect you will fall over.
Q: Lord Sebastian Coe, the London OCOG president, used to say you enshrined your vision and always used it as your guide. When faced with difficult circumstances you went back to the original purpose and made decisions.
A: Yes. The number three is really the thing you are talking about. It is how you will incorporate vision into your thinking, motivation and decision making. And we often call that the "why" you are doing it. It flows from the mission we laid in the bidding phase, that we would use the opportunity to inspire the young people to choose sport. And it is really that we kept coming back to.
Q: The vision of London 2012, "Inspire the Generation."
A: The "why" we are doing it, I always break it down to four key things. Number one is this notion to inspire, and we have great athletes, wonderful stage, and the ceremonies. We knew we could trigger the emotions because of the inspiration we had.
The second component was the notion of being able to change things. And the flip side of change is the legacy, because it is what you leave behind. The best way to get people think about changing things is when you have their attention, and that follows from inspiration. So we used the inspiration to get people's attention, and we change people's view of the East End of London, or on disability by what we showed in the Paralympics. I think we changed many people's view of Britain. Change is absolutely critical.
The third element in this "why" is pride. I think it is also very important for Japanese people here in Tokyo 2020. People want something in which they can take pride, and they want their Olympic Games to be something to be proud of. And the embodiment of that is our Games makers [volunteers], who were so proud to wear uniforms and welcome the world, do their jobs, and just to be a part of the team.
The fourth and final component relates to this concept of joining in, participation to make it everyone's Games. When people talk about the brilliant atmosphere in London during the Games, what they were recognising is that phenomenon, that everywhere they went, everybody felt it was their Games, joining in, genuinely part of the celebration.
So any point along the journey when we had a decision to make, we would say, which one of these things will result in greater inspiration, greater opportunity to change, greater opportunity to make people proud, greater opportunity to allow people to be part of it. And that was what Seb [Lord Coe] meant. It is a long answer, but it was kind of heart of how we operated.
Q: Engaging people and changing their attitudes. This social change is called an intangible legacy.
A: It is the OCOG's job to make the Games fantastic. The greater the Games the more powerful the legacy is. So the most powerful thing an OCOG can do to spur the legacy is to stage the most brilliant Games,
Q: To that end you have to create a strong team out of different organisations that never worked together in the past.
A: The predominant thing that was important was that we understood very clearly what we were trying to do, so we had the vision, at the broader level, then we also had very specific objectives in terms of what we have to do to bring the Games and we communicated that very precisely, very clearly and very regularly. You start this process, as individual entities, but your job as the OCOG - with the magic dust, you remember - is eventually by the Games time, you will all be wearing Tokyo 2020 shirts. We either all succeed together, or we all fail together. There is no scenario where some succeeded and some failed. So we had to help everybody succeed.
Lord Deighton, who became commercial secretary to the British Treasury in 2013, served for more than six years as CEO of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which was responsible for staging the 2012 London Games.