We have the 2010 Winter Olympics coming. This is a big-bucks big-politics big-business operation, half the city’s being ripped apart, and thus very newsworthy. Today we learned that the Organizing Committee’s CFO had quit after 18 months on the job. I subscribe to the Vancouver2010 RSS feed, and thus saw the press release.

VANOC’s financial leadership structure evolves

Following the successful development, approval and release of its business plan and with its venue construction program on time and on budget, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) today evolved the structure of its financial leadership team.

“The organization of the 2010 Winter Games is a dynamic project where we recruit the top talent needed for the work at each critical stage. We are always looking for ways to ensure we have the right team for the specific challenges ahead. With a solid financial framework, systems and controls now in place, we have taken advantage of an opportunity to tighten our senior management team as we execute our Games business plan,” said John Furlong, VANOC’s Chief Executive Officer.

Rex McLennan, VANOC’s CFO has decided to return to his earlier successful career in the mining industry. John McLaughlin assumes leadership of the Finance and Administration team as Chief Financial Officer. [There’s more, follow the link above.]

Is it just me, or does this mealy-mouthed smooth-as-silk self-satisfied language sound, well, suspicious? The instant I read this I thought Something’s wrong... what’s the real story?

I suppose it’s possible that it’s all on the up-and-up, that Mr. McLennan just decided he liked the mining biz better than big-ticket sports. On the other hand, maybe VanOC’s facing a financial disaster and McLennan was pre-emptively fired. It sure sounds funny. If it is bad news, it’ll come out, and all this sweet talk won’t stop it. If it’s not, why all the preening? It’d be perfectly OK to publish a two-liner saying “McLennan went back to his old job, McLaughlin is replacing him. Thanks, Rex.”

I hope, I really really hope, that more and more people are thinking like me and that the shape of conventional PR, as represented by the minor classic above, will change.



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From: ed costello (Jun 14 2007, at 19:11)

I don't know anything about VANOC or Vancouver 2010 specifically, these comments are from experience with earlier Games:

It's not unusual for the organizing committees to go through a couple of major reorganizations over the 5-7 years before the Games.

You'll usually have a small core group who work on the bid and, if successful, the first couple of years of the Games. About 2-3 years in two things happen: other cities come knocking to poach the people who got the Games for your city, and the IOC and whomever's financial neck is on the line for the Games start to check in regularly to make sure nothing's slipping. This is a boring time for the local organizing staff because it's usually routine project management, construction management, and occasional politics. It's also a great time to get out, either to another city preparing a bid, or to a private firm. Many people involved with the bid and early phases are working for free or at a reduced salary, and at some point they may genuinely need to get a real income restored.

The last big reorg usually is in the 18 months before the Games, when suddenly whichever local government is backing the Games decides to step in and take over the local organizing committee. Sometimes this is on a small scale, placing people in middle management positions, sometimes it's a complete overhaul, depending entirely on how preparations are proceeding and what the potential fallout is from such a takeover.

There's also a potential reorg for the Games themselves, though this isn't that visible outside. The IOC and sports federations enter into the picture, and the workforce working on the Games grows tremendously in a very short period (for a very short period).

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From: Stephen Bounds (Jun 14 2007, at 19:26)

Ah, the wonders of the Olympic Games.

Tim, I recommend the whole series, but you may find this snippet of The Games (http://www.mrjohnclarke.com/JC_site/index.php?page=G2) particularly helpful to explain the situation:

ROBBO

Look, I’ll make this clear enough, even for you, Nicole. Kevin Nowra has my complete support.

(Back at the office.)

BRYAN

That’s it for Kevin then.

JOHN

Yes. Say goodnight to the folks, Kevin.

MR WILSON

He’ll be right. He’s got Robbo’s complete support.

JOHN

Having Robbo’s full support is often the last sound people hear. They just hear they have Robbo’s full confidence and a nice man pops a bag over their head.

(Back at the press conference…)

FRAN

(on mobile phone) Hold on, hold on a minute. (to Gina) What did he say?

GINA

He said Kevin Nowra has his complete support.

FRAN

(on mobile phone) Forget that. Call Nowra and get his carpark pass. He’s gone apparently.

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From: Adrian (Jun 14 2007, at 19:30)

The summer olympics are always a mighty scam, enormous cost in both monetary and human terms, why should the winter ones be any different?

Read George Monbiot's take on the London Olympic$

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2100794,00.html

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From: Michael Clark (Jun 14 2007, at 19:52)

Should the "2008" in your first link actually be "2010"?

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From: Tim (Jun 14 2007, at 20:34)

Oops, thanks Michael.

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From: Stephen (Jun 14 2007, at 22:22)

I wouldn't let all the back stage shenanigans color your feelings about the upcoming Olympics that much. I've lived in two Olympic cities during their Olympics (L.A. and Nagano). There is always a certain amount of cynicism about the upcoming Games among a portion of the local population. They think money is being misspent. Many even leave town because they think the traffic and security measures will be horrible and the whole city will be a zoo.

I can tell you that living in an Olympic city is an absolutely magical, wonderful experience. All the problems will be forgotten.

I recommend going to as many venues as you can during the first week. The tickets are cheap. Don't worry about which countries are competing. Don't worry about the events. It's the ambiance, the people you'll meet. Watch the second week on TV.

After an Olympics ends, the world turns to black and white for a couple of months. You will be a bit depressed. But when you're over that, it's a wonderful memory.

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