21 Apr 2021
You may have already heard of the Knowledge and Planning Consortium (KPC). It’s a small but passionate learning community which brings together senior practitioners and directors from the IOC, UEFA, FIFA, World Athletics and World Rugby. Each of the participants has responsibility for either knowledge management or planning, and all of them are keen to learn from each other to constantly improve what they do. It’s a great example of a “community of practice”.
Initiated by the IOC and UEFA
The group was the joint brainchild of the IOC and UEFA, and one person who was instrumental in setting it up in 2018 was Hugo Viseu, former Knowledge Manager at UEFA. He recalls:
“A few of the planning and knowledge management practitioners in our organisations got in touch after the FIFA World Cup 2018, and we had this common idea that we share the same challenges and have the same ambitions, and should therefore practise what we preach and organise our own knowledge exchanges in a more structured way.”
Since its first meeting in October 2018, the Consortium has got together roughly every six months. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, recent gatherings have taken place virtually. The pandemic and the different responses to it in the major events sector have been a hot topic of discussion among the group. “The nature of major sports events is very specific and provides a strong tie between the members; that’s what makes their relationships really strong,” explains Chris Collison, who has facilitated most of the meetings. Proof of this can be seen in the bilateral contacts between the group members between meetings. Some have also participated in each other’s observer programmes or held spin-off events on specific topics involving other colleagues, for instance on bidding and risk management.
During the sessions, each represented organisation contributes with its knowledge and experience, but also shares challenges. “As a group like this matures, group members build trust and are more and more prepared to share issues and work together on solutions. That’s when we see the biggest value of a learning community,” says Collison. He recalls a powerful session when World Rugby shared the lessons learned from its crisis response to Typhoon Hagibis, which hit Japan in October 2019 while the Rugby World Cup was taking place in the country. World Rugby had to cancel some matches on safety grounds – an unprecedented situation for the world governing body, but something that could happen to any organiser of a major sports event.
Triggering fresh approaches and progress
Other topics discussed by the Consortium have included effective event debriefs, roles and tools for planning, effective virtual working, data and analytics, and innovation and decision modelling from Paris 2024, to name just a few. These sessions encourage the group members to try new things and take on board innovative approaches for their own organisations. For instance, as a result of the session on planning tools, the IOC has started to use Smartsheet for its internal processes.
Linda Hoey, Rugby World Cup Strategic Projects Manager at World Rugby, says of her experience with the Knowledge and Planning Consortium: “The KPC has been invaluable to me, as it provides an opportunity to exchange and explore insights and ideas with counterparts from a diverse range of federations and the IOC. The sessions have energised and inspired me, but most importantly enabled me to develop and improve key areas such as programme planning, risk management and knowledge transfer. From an organisational perspective, these improvements have created efficiency and reduced budget, and personally I have thoroughly enjoyed working with such a motivated professional group.”
Suzanne Brodeur, who has joined the meetings from the IOC side, adds: “It never feels there is enough time to look to other colleagues in our sports environment and spend quality time thinking about how we are working and how we can optimise our working processes. This group presents such an opportunity to learn from others who are leading very similar activities to us at the IOC, but often using completely different tools, procedures and processes to achieve results. This group allows for such an important exchange to take place, and has provided the opportunity to speak together both formally and informally on our approaches to key areas, not only for how we work today, but even more importantly, how we are striving to work in the future.”
Whilst the virtual meetings have kept the group together through the past year, it is with the hope that the Consortium members can meet again soon physically. There is no real substitute for the personal interaction on which groups like this depend!