There’s been a minor Olympics scandal about participants “tanking” preliminary events in order to get a better match-up in a later round.
- Four badminton teams threw matches last week, seeking to draw an easier opponent for the qualifying round. They were disqualified and sent home for impugning the integrity of the sport (lawn bowling will be included in the 2016 Olympics, right?).
- Algerian runner Taoufik Makhloufi tanked his heat in the 800 meter prelims to save his strength for his better even, the 1500. He was expelled but appealed and was reinstated. He went on to win the 1500 meter gold.
What do you think? Good ideas or bad behavior?
It depends on the goal.
One of the critical steps in managing a project is to determine the goal, particularly the client’s goal. Understanding of that goal should inform not just the outcome(s) you strive to achieve but the way you channel your efforts.
Back to the Olympics — what’s the goal?
There’s more than one. (The same is often true for your clients.)
For the Olympic organizers, the goal is to provide a showcase for great athletic exhibitions.1
For the athletes, the goal is to win, or to place as highly as possible.
If I were a miler also asked to run the half-mile a 1500-meterer asked to run the 800, why wouldn’t I choose to excel in one rather than be mediocre in both? In baseball, for example, we praise a player who lays down a sacrifice bunt. Football teams that play each other twice rarely show their full playbook the first outing. They keep the larger goal in mind.
On the other hand, if I were sponsoring the games, would I want to show an event where a few participants might give a half-baked performance? I’d look bad, the sponsors would be mad at me, etc.
Keep the goal in mind. And remember that your goal may not be everyone else’s goal, even when you’re supposedly on the same side.