At TACK10 it is all about approaching things differently rather than just focusing on being better. When an organization focuses on trying to be better, rather than trying to be different, they force themselves into chasing the herd. It is a cycle of competing on price, providing more deliverables and it leads to limited or short term successes generally. Being different, organizations have the ability to focus on the core value proposition and deliver long term, measurable success.
Traditionally, the Olympics are about being better. Athletes trying to be better than their competitors, opening ceremonies trying to exceed previous years, and Olympic venues trying to surpass previous cities infrastructure. This continuous focus on trying to be better has resulted in a laundry list of cities with repurposed, or empty venues from legacies of years’ past.
Trying to be better
With so many cities like Lake Placid, Bejing, Moscow, and Los Angeles having built wonderous venues with the commitment to repurposing or preserving, it seems to have become the standard. A strategy that is not always practical. Sochi for example was once home to a beautiful 51 billion dollar olympic complex on the edge of the Black Sea. A place that has over the years become desolated, sitting empty since the games and slowly rotting away. White elephants like these have become a fixture in many Olympic host cities, leaving a legacy not of the many cultural or environmental draws, but of wasted opportunity and investment.
This same idea can be applied to business. One example that comes to mind is Blockbuster and Netflix. While Blockbuster found some success in trying to be the best video rental chain, ultimately it was Netflix who won out by taking a different approach to video consumption. The same story can be told about Rim and Apple in the smartphone industry, the now struggling hotel industry with the introduction of Airbnb, even the taxi industry with the rise of ride sharing programs like Uber and Lyft. Time and time again it is those who offer a differentiated offer that set themselves up for sustainable success.
Doing it differently
In 2018, South Korea is doing things differently. Instead of building Olympic venues in the largest city of the country, like they did for the 1988 summer Olympics, South Korea has chosen to design some of the buildings with demolition in mind. The decision to host the 2018 winter games in one of the poorest, most rural outposts in all of South Korea, yet also one of the most scenic, and beautiful areas in the country, has positioned the 2018 winter games as more of a tourism advertisement then an event.
The Pyeongchang Olympic stadium may be impressive, but it was not built to be repurposed, or to become a museum of Olympics’ past.Instead the stadium is to be deconstructed shortly after the conclusion of the Paralympics in March, 2018. Rather than attracting tourism to Pyeongchang in future years with the intent of people visiting the past Olympic venues, South Korea is hoping that people will travel to the area to see the beauty and culture of the area when it returns to it natural state, as it has always been. This different approach to capitalizing on an Olympic games location has South Korea reinventing the draw of an olympic host city – not for a tour of a previously used stadium, but to experience the culture of a nation.
Will this different approach lead way to a new type of olympic or large scale event planning? Will it deliver on Pyeongchang’s objective of increasing tourism through showcasing the nature and culture of the land and its people? Only time will tell. One thing is for certain though – offering different solutions and challenging the status quo leads to stronger and healthier organizations and industries.