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Analysis of structured interviews to identify themes

19 Nov 2020

Since the conclusion of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Rio 2016, IKL has conducted approximately 600 structured interviews with OCOG managers, IOC staff and advisors in order to capture their experience and knowledge for future Games organisers as well as the IOC. Collectively, nearly 11,000 structured interview video responses can be searched and viewed on the IOC’s Visual Games Learning platform (VGL).

Having so many responses can make it tricky to identify themes addressed by the interviewees in the aggregate. To address this challenge, IKL regularly researches ways to analyse structured interview responses.

This year, the Knowledge Development team has implemented two significant analyses of interviews, which were all conducted before the global COVID-19 pandemic. They address the following topics:

  1. managing the growth of an OCOG; and
  2. knowledge and learning.

The “managing the growth of an OCOG” topic was suggested by Paris 2024. A total of 200 responses by Tokyo 2020, collected between 2017 and 2019, were analysed as they were considered most relevant to Paris 2024. Some of the identified key aspects include:

  • The Tokyo 2020 interview pool was relatively stable. By November 2019, interviewees had worked for the OCOG on average for 3.8 years and roughly 75% had stayed in the same role.
  • Reasons given for structural changes evolved over time, from alignment and visibility (58% in 2018) to accommodating adjustments in areas’ scope and size (74% in 2019).
  • Reasons for changes to headcount also evolved over time, from sourcing correct profiles (mentioned by 35% of respondents in 2018) to Games-time planning/scope refinements (62% of respondents in 2019).

Regarding the topic of knowledge and learning, which is vast by nature, the analysis focused on knowledge sources and observation and experience. When OCOGs were asked which resources were helpful, the most common responses given in structured interviews were “people” focused. The IOC, previous OCOGs and experts represent people or organisations as sources of information. These people can be further supported by a range of knowledge “assets” that are easily harvested, stored, searched and repurposed (e.g. via OGK, GRM).

Sentiment with respect to knowledge sources is quite positive. That being said, common challenges mentioned by respondents include difficulty in finding relevant information; timing (knowledge given when it is not relevant); lack of understanding by the IOC, previous OCOGs and experts of the OCOG’s local context; and limited access to previous OCOG staff members.

Response sentiment about participation in observation and experience programmes was quite positive, with 74% responding positively with respect to observation. The majority of negative sentiment expressed related to respondents’ inability to participate, due to budget considerations, timing (hired too late to participate) or scheduling conflicts.

Following this analysis and looking ahead, IKL may innovate its observation and experience offerings through remote experiential learning opportunities – now even more relevant in the COVID-19 era – made available to a wider segment of OCOG staff during key moments in the OCOG lifecycle. The IKL team is also currently assessing the best ways to share the results of these analyses with their colleagues in the OCOGs and the IOC.

More structured interviews will be organised remotely with Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 later this year. Simultaneously, a number of analyses will be conducted. For more information about structured interview analyses, please contact the IKL team at

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