Tuesday, March 4, 2014

5 Business Lessons from the Sochi Olympics

By now, many of us may have tired of seeing the Olympics logo at the bottom of television screens and hearing about gold medal winners hours after the events – sometimes even days later. But while the results of the Sochi Olympics are now in the history books, there are some important business lessons we can all apply and learn from this international athletic event.

There was no doubt that viewers were watching something spectacular. Opening ceremonies were full of lights, action, music, and of course, the distinctive outfits worn by athletes representing all the different countries. As a business, how often do you create events with the sole purpose of putting on a memorable show to develop employee loyalty and recognize employees? This can be done with summer picnics, beach parties, birthday parties, holiday parties, etc.

All countries showcase their individuality with the outfits their athletes wear during the opening ceremonies. Does your business have shirts, jackets, or caps that showcase your logo or brand identity? Or do your employees wear their own clothes – and in the process confuse customers?

Even if an athlete doesn’t win a Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal, he or she is an Olympic athlete. For your business, even if an employee doesn’t make the biggest sale or develop the next iPad, he or she is still contributing in some way to the overall bottom line.

How transparent is your leadership team? There may be things going on that many employees don’t understand – think about the confusion surrounding the curling event – so take the time and make the effort to explain and provide a big picture view so everyone is on the same page. Many employees are more productive and more successful if they understand how their piece of the pie impacts the entire project.


Sportscaster and commentator Bob Costas had a medical issue (an eye infection that oddly became the most talked about news of the Sochi games) and had to be replaced by a member of his team. Are there individuals in your business who understand a variety of specialty areas and who could step in at the eleventh hour? No one should own all information about a specific area or project. If so, your company could be at risk. Consider if there is a data breach and no one can locate the IT manager. Or consider if there is a media emergency and no one can locate the President to talk with the media. Create policies, plans, and alternate employees to assist in a variety of scenarios.

What other lessons did you learn from the Olympics that you can apply to your business and workplace? Please chime in.

Image Credit: Iamnee via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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