Ben Holliday

Despite the imperfections

Learning from the volunteers at London 2012

Things sometimes work well despite imperfection. Look at the Olympics, the need to rely on volunteers at the London 2012 games made it better.

“…volunteers are one of the factors that have so far made the Games a success.”

People had to fill the gaps that the organisers couldn’t fill with professional events staff and security. It became a more meaningful experience for everyone.

Imperfection fits well with people. People fit better in the gaps, they become part of the experience. People are good at reassuring, signposting, and just being human. They respond to difficult and unknown situations with empathy.

If something is designed to be perfect, professional, or polished, then it can be become too automated or too seamless. It’s not memorable and it leaves no room for people to exist or to interact. Sometimes it’s these things that make an experience. It’s these things that help us make the most of the unexpected.

We remember the meaningful interactions in these moments. The people we talk to. The people that smile back at us.

Don’t estimate the purpose and power of the unpredictable or unplanned nature of the things we experience. In the end it’s what makes us human.

This is my blog where I’ve been writing for 18 years. You can follow all of my posts by subscribing to this RSS feed. You can also find me on Bluesky, less frequently now on X (formally Twitter), and on LinkedIn.