In a moving presentation at PMI® Global Congress 2011 -- North America, Mr. Furlong gave an insider's look at how, with solid risk management, the project team overcame a slew of unexpected obstacles to deliver the biggest project ever staged in Canada.
For example, all the team's scientific data -- going back 100 years -- indicated there would be enough snow on the mountain scheduled to host snowboarding and skiing events. There wasn't.
The result was a 24/7 effort on the eve of the event to bring in snow from 100 kilometers (62 miles) away. In the end, it was ready for action.
Rallying people behind the Olympic vision meant reaching out to every corner of the country -- literally in some cases. Part of the team, for example, was tasked to ensure that every Canadian had the chance to see the Olympic torch. Team members drew and redrew maps, trimmed out rest days from the schedule and ultimately pulled off a 106-day torch relay.
The darkest hour of the games came when Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died during a training run. The outpouring of support across Canada helped Mr. Furlong realize the entire country was behind the organization. That backing helped his own team get through the crisis.
Mr. Furlong shared four takeaways from his Olympic experience:
- You have to have a vision, a belief in something so strong that it will get you out of bed when you feel like you can't.
- If you're given the leadership role, surround yourself with people who are not the same as you, and who won't be afraid to challenge you, but will still stick together.
- Even in your darkest hour, you have options. Although you risk humiliation and failure, if you don't have the courage to fight, you don't know what you're capable of.
- Never sell your integrity to anyone. Once you do, you can never get it back.
Mr. Furlong finished with this advice for all project managers:
"Sometimes you have to get on your hands and knees and claw your success out of the dirt."
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