Obama and the Olympics: How Power, Persuasion and Structural Forces at Play really determined RIO’s Win

What are the daily influences on our lives?

The three main influences are a) people in power, b) persuasive communicators and c) structural forces at play. 

Let’s identify the three:
People in power is pretty clear – those in authority in both private and public arena. CEO’s and executives, President Obama and Congress, and non-profit leaders.
Persuasive communicators – can be the same as people in power but can also be those without any formal power at all. Persuasion is a great equalizer to power.
However, structural forces at play – the hidden drivers of behavior, like a riverbed shaping the direction of the river’s movement, can shift the outcome whether you are in power or are a master of persuasion.
Take for example, the recent Olympics decision, involving Chicago vs. Rio de Janeiro’s bid to hold the 2016 Olympic Games.
Rio won. Part of RIO’s presentation was to vividly and persuasively paint the picture that South America contrasted with other parts of the world because they were one of a few continents that hadn’t hosted an Olympics. The Rio presenters repeatedly pointed out on a map all the places that had hosted the Games and how South America was not represented at all. A compelling persuasive presentation. Rio had a persuasive message, and structural forces at play (most countries wanted the continent that hadn’t had the Olympic Games) in its favor. Neither country had any actual decision power.
President Obama went to Copenhagen to make the final appeal. His position, a strong economic bid and persuasive abilities could not overcome the structural forces at play – specifically, South America has never had an Olympics, 90% of the Olympic voters are from outside the U.S.A., and Africa has never had an Olympics either. The tendency for action within the International Olympic Committee was clearly leaning for the continent that hadn’t had an Olympics and RIO was perfectly situated, and I venture a guess that the African nations wanted to see a continent that hadn’t hosted the Olympics as well. Strategically they would be the natural next place and likely voted accordingly.
The Chicago bid had a strong economic package and venue, and persuasive abilities of the Chicago committee which included Oprah Winfrey and high profile Chicago executives. Unfortunately, this was not equal to the the structural forces that were against them – they were going upstream in effect, and they had no decision power – most of the voters were from outside the USA. They had one of the three influence factors on their side.
President Obama took a chance, the country leaders of the other four finalists appeared at the Olympic committee vote. He would have been blamed by the political opposition if he hadn’t gone, and we have the unprecedented demonstration by conservatives cheering when the USA lost the bid. They were actually rooting for America to lose! The neoconservative groups were shown cheering upon hearing that Chicago loss. The Olympics are a source of pride, and never before have we seen a political group actually root against America.
In terms of power, persuasion and structural forces at play I think the conservative strategy will backfire during the next election cycle. This will be a revealing and vivid image Democrats will use showing Republicans rooting against America. You just have to wonder what conservatives would have said if liberals had booed America in the same way.
Pay attention to the three daily influences and begin to arrange them to support your best efforts. If you have all three you increase your chances of success dramatically, but you can win with two of the three, as long as influence can align with the structural forces at play.
Let’s root for America and Congratulations to Rio!