POSTED: July 10th 2017

Olympics: IOC brings in IMD for advice on governance and winds up with a spotlight on Olympic Solidarity

IMD Board Director, Professor Cossin © IOC
IMD Board Director, Professor Cossin © IOC

LAURA WALDEN (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has brought in the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland to basically give it a report card on its own governance.

With all the excitement of the possibility of a double 2024 and 2028 awarding of two editions of the Olympic Summer Games this bit of news didn't get its "day in the sun" if you will however some of the advice listed herein could bring about some changes in the way the IOC carries out its business. Very notable how it deals with the allocations of its money back into the world wide sports movement. 

Apparently the IOC contacted IMD on February 4th 2016 to conduct a thorough review of its governance and procedures.

IMD Board Director, Professor Cossin, reported the findings to the IOC Executive Board today followed up by a press conference and public document.

In a nutshell IMD made 22 recommendations "to improve structures and processes for governance in the more immediate term", as well as 11 "recommendations for longer-term transformation of governance practices, to help the IOC on its path to continuous governance improvement".

IMD also identified 7 dilemmas "which we believe the IOC will need to face in the next 10 years to ensure that its governance practices keep pace with its evolving role and increasing societal expectations".

The report is divided into three sections and the first was dedicated to ethical conduct and reputation and listed a few recommendations to note such as "Raise awareness and increase understanding of conflicts of interest", "Training on the topic of conflicts of interest for EB members", "Give the IOC Ethics Commission more independence to investigate cases of ethical misconduct, thus improving its efficiency", "The IOC Ethics Commission should be granted an independent secretary", and "Strengthen sanctions for non-compliance in cases of conflicts of interest".

Some of the dilemmas that the IOC could face in the next 5-10 years were defined as "The IOC EB should consider delegating its sanctioning powers to an independent third party, organization or commission in the long term", and "With the rise of geopolitical tensions and financial interests, how can the IOC maintain and reinforce the crucial independence of mind of IOC members?"

Some of the secondary recommendations were "Introduce third party/external reporting channels", "Grant an independent budget to the IOC Ethics Commission", "Strengthen and formalize sanctions for ethical misconduct in general".

The second section dealt with organization supervision and decision making and the primary recommendations were "Thorough and systematic onboarding of new EB members", "Offer regular EB training", "Introduce an EB self-assessment", "Codify the process of preparation for EB meetings", "Improve and staff a governance function or preferably a governance office to institutionalize more sophisticated processes", and "Regular review of the overall work of Commissions".

And again some of the dilemmas that the IOC may have to deal with in the next 5-10 years were "The EB will have to consider systematically increasing its regular workload in order to remain in its executive role or will need to redefine its role in the coming years" and "Regularly review the member nomination process to continuously reinforce quality and independence of membership".

Secondary recommendations include "Codify rules for submitting decisions to the President", and "A more streamlined EB agenda".

And finally the third section was IOC as a leader in the Olympic Movement and the primary recommendations were "Support the evolution of the organizational design towards a professionally managed succession process", "Improve the board effectiveness of IOC subsidiaries", " Improve communication and transparency", "Revise and extend "Basic Universal Principles of Good Governance", and "Codify the due diligence process for agreements with a legal impact for the organization". And there was one more added in for external credibility "Link the distribution of money to minimum standards of good governance".

In regard to this IMD lists as potential dilemmas in the next 5-10 years  "Should give more complete and thorough information on the processes and financial flows from Olympic Solidarity, possibly by constituting it as a fully owned subsidiary", "If the IOC links the distribution of money to good governance standards it will also have to ensure that it is able to check compliance with the required standards", and "To ensure that the Olympic Games delivery meets legacy objectives and matches other strategic priorities of Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC should be more directly involved in the organization of the Games".

The secondary recommendations of this section were listed in groups and they are added herein;

Secondary recommendations

1. Internal efficiency

a. Avoid multiple functional responsibilities of directors

b. Conduct a regular review of staff profiles

c. Agree on a strategic approach to outsourcing and the use of consultants

d. Adapt the IOC Administration staff training policy

2. Risk management

a. The transparency of the Olympic Games ticketing process should be improved through 3rd party organization, internal restructuring or public register

b. Improve identification of non-financial risks and mitigation strategies

c. Build a back-up plan for critical positions

d. Improve cybersecurity

e. Improve the implementation of Request for Proposal rules f. Take systematic reviews of relevant commercial partners, sponsors and branding g. Undertake due diligence of all consultants

3. Communications

a. Improve transparency and communications with external stakeholders

4. Diversity

a. Establish a diversity policy

b. Place more visible emphasis on diversity

c. Empower more women to take senior leadership positions

d. At the EB level, articulating targets for gender and age diversity would help to set the tone at the top

5. Stakeholder engagement

a. Conduct detailed stakeholder mapping

b. Coordinate approach to human rights across the organization 

**LAURA WALDEN has over twenty-six years of experience in the Olympic Movement, formerly at the European Olympic Committees with SportEurope under former IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge and IOC Member Mario Pescante. She worked with the Rome 2004 and Turin 2006 Olympic bids and also managed PR & media for Dr. Jacques Rogge during his campaign for the presidency.

Keywords · Olympics · IMD

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