The biggest own goal in Australian sporting history?


Warren Buffett, the sage of Omaha, once wisely said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

In Optus’s case it was 90 minutes – or one game of the World Cup.

Many football fans lambasted Optus over the first weekend of this year’s tournament for repeated disruptions with their coverage. On Monday, the Prime Minister stepped in.

Malcolm Turnbull basically told Chief Executive Officer, Allen Lew, to get his game together.

Lew apologised to fans for the streaming problems. It is the first time Optus has held the rights to show the World Cup, following its move into sports content which began with the English Premier League.

Lew tweeted that Optus “should have done better”, saying the company can do better and will do better.


Many people think reputation is about promoting what matters to stakeholders and customers. And it is.

Others think it’s about protecting a company in the event of an issue or a crisis by proactively planning for such occasions. And it is.

But it is also about looking inside, thinking about what is happening within the company. Too often, we find that’s where reputations are broken. A process isn’t followed. A system or product is not fully developed or tested before launch. Sometimes this is an innocent mistake. More often it’s down to cultural issues – the pressure to deliver, for example, or a fear of speaking up. Just ask the banks.

No one knows what has happened in the case of Optus. My advice, however, is that any review of what went wrong includes the culture as a key plank.

The German’s lost their first game of the World Cup over the weekend, and are likely to bounce back. Maybe Optus will too. It will take something to turn this tournament around for the telco.