Huge crowds, an electric atmosphere and stunning scenery: the recent Grand Départ of the Tour de France in Yorkshire is widely heralded as a huge success. And hot on the heels of the 2012 Olympic the UK as a whole can feel very proud of delivering yet another huge sporting achievement.
Perhaps most impressive was the involvement of entire communities. Small villages along the length of the route were decked out with colourful decorations and many local celebrations were organised to mark the historic visit by the world’s largest sporting event.
What lessons can we learn from this triumph which help us unite people behind a common cause and achieve much sought after success in culture change? Here are four commonalities I spotted:
1. A leader with a powerful vision and dogged determination to succeed
Local sheep farmer and chief executive of Welcome To Yorkshire, Gary Verity had the vision of bringing Le Tour to Yorkshire. He set about selling the idea to the race director and organising committee as well as to the people of Yorkshire. He demonstrated the benefits and used every ounce of his drive and enthusiasm to ensure success.
2. Attention to detail and precise organisation
We cannot rely on pure enthusiasm. All the details and possible eventualities need to be thought through carefully and addressed. The route; signs; information for locals and visitors; facilities; as well as listening to and dealing with the concerns of all parties.
3. Get everyone involved and create community spirit
For the visit of Le Tour to the Yorkshire Dales this was very apparent. Every town, village and tiny hamlet along the route (and beyond) was doing their bit to add to the spectacle. Also involved were the estimated 5 million spectators that lined the route of the three UK Stages. Defending Champion Chris Froome described feeling goose-bumps as he battled his way up the Holme Moss climb.
4. Recognise the benefits of hard work and expense
Putting on an event such as a stage of Le Tour (let alone an opening ceremony, two stages in Yorkshire and one in the south) takes a great deal of effort and costs a significant amount of money.
We should look at this as an investment from which there will be significant dividends. Much of the input at a local level didn’t have to cost a lot of money: making and putting up the miles of coloured bunting, painting old bikes yellow and decorating schools, guest houses, farms and pubs could be seen as a great opportunity to bring communities together in a common cause.
Many farmers gained useful, extra income from temporary car parks, camp-sites and viewing areas too. Guest houses, restaurants and local shops benefited from the massive influx of visitors. Longer term, the reputation of Yorkshire as a beautiful and fascinating place to visit can only be beneficial for the local economy as fabulous pictures were broadcast around the world to a global market.
A final benefit will also be to inspire even more people to get out on their bikes with all the improvements in health and well-being that this will bring.