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Strategies are a visible representation of purpose, embodying vision and tension
Strategies are a visible representation of purpose, embodying vision and tension

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High-quality strategies ensure better allocation of capacity and investment

Strategic Relationship Manager Lorna Leach looks at how a strategy can be more than a powerful document but a component of positive change and the best ways to get your strategy ideas off the ground.

Over the last few years one of the most commissioned services from London Sport Consultancy has been developing strategies. 

Our partners frequently ask for examples of good strategies to guide their thinking as they begin scoping out their new, or next, strategy.

But however good another agency's strategy might look on paper, the magic is in the approach taken to build it. 

This is what takes it from being something powerful on paper to something that can be actioned to bring about the positive change you want.

Strategies are vitally important because they're a visible representation of purpose. They embody vision and intention.

In the eyes of others, strategies create a strong base for securing additional resources and investment. This is particularly potent when they acknowledge other agency's strategies and the connection points.

You might be tying a strategy to other strategic documents in your portfolio, like a new sport and physical activity strategy for a local authority speaks to the leisure contract and playing pitch strategy.

Alternatively, you might consider the regional or national picture and ensure your strategy aligns. A workforce strategy, for example, that recognises the three arms of Sport England’s strategy will refer to Sport England, UK Coaching and CIMSPA strategies.

Then, it's about getting the right approach for gathering the data to develop a strategy and being clear on the intended purpose. This will make it easier to apply a framework to writing the strategy.

When thinking about purpose, be aware of who will be responsible for delivering the outcomes and factor into your thinking the approach taken to inform the content of the strategy and the outcomes. 

If a sport and physical activity strategy is going to be delivered by a wider network then those partners should be part of the data collection and writing.

Once you know the purpose and who needs to be involved you can begin to pull together the approach to gain the information required to write the strategy.

There are two distinct ways to do this, but we’d recommend a blend of both:

1.Desk based

2.Stakeholder consultation

Desk-based work is quicker. It can work well where the accountability to deliver the strategy is owned by one organisation, like our facility investment mapping completed for the Lawn Tennis Association.

Using desk-based reviews to collate existing evidence allows for the more time-intensive consultation to focus on bespoke and unknown factors. Consultation is robust and can be done through a variety of methods at different costs. 

When writing strategies for local authority, regional agencies and national governing bodies our approach has included shoe-leather research, focus groups, online forums, facilitated workshops and surveys. 

Most recently, we've facilitated the decision-making and identification of opportunities for the Port of London Authority to increase physical activity and diversity in watersports.

In Redbridge, we wrote a borough-wide strategy which was a robust dive into communal provision, community need and development of a cross-departmental narrative. 

The council were open to an ambitious approach to data collection to underpin an ambitious and innovative action plan, which included shoe-leather research to map local assets and connect with community voices alongside cross-department and agency facilitated workshops.

Meanwhile in Hillingdon, we led a comprehensive review into current and future needs for local cycling facilities that included delivering a joint needs assessment across two existing sites, it considered potential future resident needs and a non-user voices. 

Creating a strategy from scratch can seem like a daunting task but, done well, it is a key component to positive change. 

If you would like more information on developing strategies or are interested in commissioning us contact Jennie Rivett, Business Development and Partnerships Manager.

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London Sport aims to ensure Londoners live happier, healthier lives through sport and physical activity

About London Sport

London Sport aims to ensure more Londoners live happier, healthier lives through sport and physical activity. Supported by the Mayor of London and Sport England, our target is to get Londoners more physically active.

For more information on London Sport, visit www.londonsport.org

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