Plan for perfection

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When David Higgins was installed as the chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) he had a simple plan. Two years planning, four years building and one year of testing before the Games began.

Many questioned the plan but, resolute, he took the decision to implement the system, confident it would deliver.

What resulted was perhaps the most success programme ever delivered in British history.

Why was he so confident? The answer is simple planning. How do I know? Because he demonstrated his thinking to me personally.

David, this months Project interviewee, agreed to meet me to discuss his current role as the chief executive of Network Rail.

In his sixth-floor office in the heart of Kings Cross he keeps a rather unremarkable looking box with ODA written on in marker pen. Inside is a piece of history. This is what I used to pitch my two-four-one idea to the Government, he tells me, as he produces a huge Gantt chart.

David proceeds to tell me how he worked backwards from the opening ceremony of London 2012 to develop the plan, anticipating challenges and building in contingency plans.

There is certainly a lesson here for all of us. It isnt rocket science. It is meticulous attention to detail, the ability to think outside of the box and build in a strong process to cope with future challenges. This allows you to ensure the main bulk of work in the project the physical build of the Olympic Park in Davids case is undertaken with as few issues as possible.

David allowed two years for this crucial planning phase, but the results speak for themselves.


Posted by Andrew Hubbard on 26th Jun 2013

About the Author
Andrew is the editor of Project magazine. He began his career working as a freelance journalist. At the time his clients included Northcliffe and BSkyB. He became editor of Project at the end of June 2012.

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