The G4S Olympic Security shambles has been a huge embarrassment to the organisers of the games and to the government. It has damaged the reputation of London and Great Britain and, most spectacularly, G4S (strapline “Securing your World” – really?) and their hapless CEO, Nick Buckles. Never before did a man’s performance so closely mirror his hair style.
From a programme management point of view, it should never have got to such a critical stage. The execution of the plan was not being sufficiently closely scrutinised by the government and the organisers, or the myriad of committees managing the security. The lack of scrutiny is probably because so many were involved and no one body had clear responsibility. Yes, G4S were probably hiding the facts or possibly lying but sufficiently hard questions would have uncovered that.
Once the problem was unearthed, the response was quick and decisive. The troops and police were called in to fill the gap. But this, I feel, shows the real heart of the problem.
Whatever the organisational shortcomings of G4S, the real problem is the way they were treating the people they hired. Minimum pay, poor conditions and no guarantee of hours. Unsurprisingly, many decided not to turn up. Perhaps if G4S had taken less profit from the contract and treated people decently then they would not have got themselves in this mess. When did it become acceptable business practice to do otherwise?
Of course, the Army don’t have the option of turning up. They have also been badly treated in this but they will be thanked by the public for coming to the country’s rescue once again. (This is not an anti-Olympics post – I am really excited, looking forward to watching the opening ceremony and a great 2 weeks of sport!)