August, 27 2022


Operational Readiness



01. The Challenge

In 2021, the National Projects Office of the Ministry of Presidential Affairs of the UAE, contracted Ikosaeder to oversee the preparation and Operational Readiness of the UAE Pavilion at EXPO2020 Dubai. As the focal point of EXPO2020 Dubai, the Pavilion was bound to attract a great deal of attention and therefore the reputational stakes of the project were very high.

Due to the onset of the pandemic, the organisers faced a series of challenges: delayed construction resulted in late recruitment, relocation of staff and familiarisation with venue operations, all of which impacted the Readiness programme which was already under very tight timelines and scheduled to be delivered one month before the Opening. When Ikosaeder began working on the project, no Readiness activities had been conducted. Pavilion staff consisted mainly of experienced professionals with event background, so there was confidence around their capability to manage operations, but less so around the integration between functional areas, as well as integration with EXPO2020 Dubai and key Delivery partners. 

The objectives Ikosaeder set out for the Readiness programme included: enhancing working relationships across the organisation and building up situational awareness and issue resolution capabilities; enhancing the understanding of cross functional responsibilities and C3 communication flows; leveraging mutual commitment to integrate processes between the UAE Pavilion and EXPO2020 Dubai Delivery partners; and building teams’ confidence ahead of event operations.   

02. The Solution

At the start of project, we conducted a kick off meeting with key stakeholders gathering initial requirements, concerns and constraints. We then delivered an initial assessment of key Readiness elements such as people, processes, infrastructure, technology and C3. We also reviewed existing policies and procedures, operating plans, C3 documents, risks matrix: based on the risks identified at this stage, we defined focus areas for the Readiness programme. Finally, we defined key capabilities to measure across the Readiness programme. Given we began the project in during the final preparatory phases of the event, the delivery of Readiness programme had to be integrated as much possible in the existing workflow.

In consideration of the above, we designed, developed and delivered a Readiness programme consisting of four exercises:

  1. Pavilion Explorer
  2. Pavilion Team Challenge
  3. UAE Pavilion C3 Table Top
  4. Team Engagement Exercise

Pavilion Explorer (1)

A self-driven, single-player digital scenario-based activity allowing users to go through a Day in the life of UAE Pavilion operations.

Pavilion Team Challange (2)

a WhatsApp based fast-paced micro learning and team building experience taking place as part of the workflow.

UAE Pavilion C3 Table Top
and Team Engagement Exercise (3,4)

Scenario-based facilitated exercises focused on reviewing and refining UAE Pavilion C3 plans and an engagement activity including scenario-based discussions designed to facilitate the integration between the UAE Pavilion team members and their Expo 2020 counterparts.

Approximately 100 people took part in the Readiness programme including representatives from UAE Pavilion, EXPO2020 Dubai, the National Project Office (NPO), Salama Bint Hamadan Foundation (SHF) and the Ministry of Culture and Youth.

03. The Outcome

At the end of four-week programme, tangible and intangible benefits of the Operational Readiness programme included: 

  • The group coming together as a team and establishing good working relationships 
  • Individuals learning more about the areas of direct responsibilities and growing their understanding of how issues may impact their operations, points of contact and issue resolution thresholds 
  • Increased understanding of communications and crisis comms  
  • Increased understanding of the practical application of policies and procedures and identification of gaps 
  • Increased understanding of C3 principles and recommendations on areas requiring further clarifications 
  • Identification of areas requiring further training 
  • A number of recommendations were issued for further improvement 

In terms of the potential for projects of this kind, with greater time availability, the number of tabletops focused on COVID-19 Readiness and response to a crisis could have been increased. A simulation would also have been helpful to practice information sharing protocols and tools in real time. 

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