5 Business Lessons to Learn from the Olympics

Both the business and sports worlds are competitive environments where hard work and dedication are valued. The connection between strategies that work in sport and those that work in business has been well documented, but what specific lessons can businesses take from the Olympic Games.

Planning and Preparation

Having effective Sales and Operations Planning is key to a successful business, similar to the way planning is vital to running a world-class sports event. When you look behind the scenes at the Olympics, the scale of moving pieces, the timing of the events, transport of the athletes, stocking sufficient supplies, and scheduling of support staff, the importance of planning to make an event of this magnitude run smoothly is apparent. Strong, flexible, and detailed planning goes into hosting a worldwide sports event, and the same type of planning and preparation can help to build a strong business.


We often rely on key players in our workplace to get things done. Having great employees or great athletes is vital to having a successful team. However, sometimes, we forget how important teamwork and working together are to the business environment. Through networking and mentorship, so much more can be achieved than by working alone.


Flexibility is one of the qualities that companies have had to draw on frequently in recent years. The example of the flexibility that the Olympics provides is not the actual gymnasts, but the logistical gymnastics that the Japanese Olympic Committee had to perform to make what should have been the 2020 Olympics a reality in 2021. The lengths they were able to go to make this event happen is an example of how through being flexible great things can be achieved. It is also an inspiring and concrete example of perseverance that any company should be proud to follow.

Attention to Detail

With 205 countries and 11,326 athletes participating from around the world, the logistics, supply chain, and planning needed to keep the Olympics running smoothly are no joke. Attention to detail is paramount. Nowhere is that more evident than in the Olympic village. To keep elite athletes healthy and in tip-top shape, a 24 hour a day cafeteria was designed with not only convenience in mind but the safety, nutritional needs, and preferences of the athletes. The level of detailed thought that went into building the ultimate experience for the sports teams is mind-blowing, down to the detail of checking each athlete’s bag before entering the facility, providing food for specialized dietary needs to digitally tracking where they sit, to allow for trace tracking in case of illness.

Much can be learned about putting this level of detailed thought into the customer or client experience. With a focus of this level on customer and client needs, a new level of service can be achieved.

Striving for Excellence

No athlete enters the ring with a silver medal as their goal. They might happily accept a silver, but the goal was to go for the gold. How does this apply in business? Do you think that the silver medalist would have won that medal if they hadn’t been striving for the gold? By striving for excellence and setting high but achievable business goals, you are setting yourself and your business up for success. No one becomes a medalist by aiming for fifth place, and you shouldn’t set your sights too low either.

Just as the world around us can inspire artists, it can also inspire businesspeople to implement better business practices. By viewing the Olympics through the lens of logistics and planning, there are many business lessons that apply to day-to-day work life.

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