Achieving Olympian Goals: Five Rings of Project Success

Rob Saxon

Rob Saxon is a Project Management Professional, Certified Information Systems Auditor and a trained Six Sigma Specialist. Rob is currently developing methods to integrate project management into previously unexplored areas of business.

The Olympics: 35 sports divided between the summer and the winter games, and nearly 400 events. The name itself conjures images of dazzling victory and crushing defeat. For project and program managers, the idea of the Olympics may also conjure the image of an insurmountably complex program to organize and manage.

Like any enormous program, however, the Olympics can be divided, digested and successfully completed (torch mishaps and weather problems notwithstanding.) The century-old Olympic symbol is something we can look at to begin to make sense of the herculean effort of organizing a program (or set of programs) like the Olympics.

The Olympic rings are five intertwined circles of blue, yellow, black, green and red. It’s these five simple rings that represent the elaborate and complex Olympic Games. In creating the Olympics symbol, Baron Pierre de Coubertin--the founder of the modern Olympic Games--said this about the symbol:

“These five rings represent the five parts of the world which now are won over to Olympism and willing to accept healthy competition. With the binding of these five rings, then, we see how many parts can come together to make a better whole.”

Similarly, project managers can bring five rings of discipline together to manage very complex projects. Those five rings are: tasks, activities, phases, projects and programs. …

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