The four key points you need to know from the 2017 Sports Summit: Putting people at the heart of an active nation

Verity Postlethwaite, PhD Candidate at the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Worcester explains why joined up thinking, learning from other sectors, clear accountability and going beyond statutory requirements are all critical to putting people at the heart of sport and recreation.

The 2017 Sports Summit included input from expert speakers from within and beyond the sector across the issues of diversity, volunteering, safeguarding and culture change. So, what were the key points from the discussion and what can we all do to make sure that our most valuable asset, our people, are at the centre of everything we do? 

1.            Joined up thinking – Organisations should review how they engage with their stakeholders. For example, boards need to speak with people both from within and outside their organisation.  Simon Osborne, CEO of ICSA, The Governance Institute, explained in a panel discussion about creating a culture people want to be a part of, that he arranges opportunities for board members to interact with staff when the executive isn’t around. By encouraging the board to meet staff, they can better understand the culture of an organisation and which contributes to more informed strategic decision making.

2.            Non-sport influence – Sport and recreation organisations are being tasked to do more, with less. To help adapt to these increasing demands, there are many lessons which can be taken from other industries to assist sport and recreation organisations in a range of areas, including putting in place the right processes to safeguard adult volunteers and implementing solid data protection policies. We should all be looking beyond our immediate environment to identify best practice and apply it to our own organisation.

3.            Clear accountability – Who should lead and contribute to an organisation’s strategy, the aims and its visions? A prominent feature of the 2017 Sports Summit was to review who is responsible when looking to upskill and broaden the understanding of staff and wider stakeholders on a topic. And, when difficult issues arise, the accountability around who should act and take decisions must be clear and obvious.

4.            Statutory versus best practice – It is vital to keep reviewing the assumptions, myths and practices of your organisation in order to continuously improve and all organisations should be adopting a proactive approach to improvement for their own long-term sustainability. It is no longer acceptable for organisations to simply wait for and respond to statutory changes or even relying on other organisations implementing best practice before adopting change.

The foundation of any well-run organisation and the ability to implement some of the best practice discussed above is good governance. Without good governance, it is very difficult to run an effective, progressive and ultimately successful enterprise.  To support organisations across the sector with governance, the Sport and Recreation Alliance announced the launch of The Principles of Good Governance for Sport and Recreation. The Principles are a good example of how your organisation can be proactive, by thinking about where it wants to be in twelve months and five years’ time. Whether your organisation receives public funding now or in the future, it is essential that you can demonstrate good governance and The Principles are designed to help all organisations, no matter how big or small, towards best practice and long term sustainability.