Sport Sister Podcast - Season 1, Episode 6

Episode 6 – Strategy, Planning and People: Darren Lawrence and Mike Hanaway.

Darren Lawrence and Mike Hanaway

Darren Lawrence has worked in sports development for over 20 years, having held positions at Sport England and The FA. He now runs his own consultancy.  Mike Hanaway is a coach and Club Chairman at Foots Cray Lions JFC, and League Secretary at Kent Girls & Ladies League.  Darren and Mike join Natalie Doyle to discuss how to develop a strategy for your club or organisation, and how strategy doesn’t have to be boring!  They share their own experiences of strategy, planning and people and provide some great advice and useful tips.

Strategy is the guiding light for the organisation. Whatever size it is, however it’s structured, the principles are the same.

- Darren Lawrence

Read this episode’s transcript

Natalie Doyle:

Welcome to the Sport Sister Podcast, where we bring together professional experts with grassroots pioneers to discuss key topics for grassroots sport.

I’m Natalie Doyle, and in this episode, I’m joined by two people with a lot of sporting experience.

Darren Lawrence has worked in sports development for over 20 years, having held positions at Sport England, and The FA. He now runs his own consultancy and helps clients, including governing bodies, active partnerships, sports clubs, charities, and local authorities in a number of areas, including research strategy and people development and monitoring and evaluation.

Mike Hanaway is a coach and club chairman at Footscray Lions JFC and League Secretary at the Kent Girls and Ladies Football League. Footscray Lions have nine girl’s teams and an adult ladies team, as well as a scheme to mentor young people as they qualify as coaches and referees.

I’m really looking forward to chatting to them. So let’s get started.

Right, Darren and Mike, thank you so much for giving up your time to talk with me today. We’re going to talk about strategy, which I’m really looking forward to picking your brains about.

Darren, if I start with you, why do you think it’s important that a club has a strategy?

Darren Lawrence:

Hi Nat. Well strategy is probably one of my kind of areas of interest and passion. I’m not quite sure where that came from. Over the years I’ve dealt with and supported and worked with many clubs, governing bodies and other organisations in that area. I think for me, strategy is the guiding light for the organisation. So whatever organisation, it might be, whatever size it is and however it’s structured, voluntary, paid, professional, however you want to dice it up, I think the principles are the same. So yeah, it’s that sort of guiding light in terms of setting a clear direction for the club, the organisation. It tells people within the club, but not only within the club, outside as well, in terms of what the club’s all about.

I think that there’s a lot of things you can hang in a strategy and hang off a strategy, whether that’s vision, purpose, mission objectives, tactics, how are you going to go out to deliver this, who with, what partners you’re going speak to and bring into the work that you’re doing. I know it’s not everybody’s cup of tea and over the years, I think that’s been a challenge in some respects and still is, even now, I’m doing work where you say the word strategy or plan, it switches people off. That is a challenge, and it’s a shame reallythe the , because I am a bit of a strategy geek, I would admit that, but you can’t have strategy without delivery and the doers and the people out on the ground and vice versa.

I think it’s really hard to go out and deliver and run a club without really knowing where you’re headed. So I think the two do run hand in hand for me. So I don’t know if that answers your question. but I think it’s that kind of framework, that guiding light and there’s lots and lots that you can bring into that whole sort of strategic process. It doesn’t have to be this all-singing-dancing document that looks like a governing body or looks like a local authority. It can be a simple one-pager or two-pager. I think that the principle is bringing people together, some good leadership in there as well around this is where we’re headed, this is what we’re here to do. And that really helps if you’re a new club setting up, I’ll always advise trying to put a plan in place or a strategy in place. My old club back in Hertfordshire, Ware Lions, I think they’re over 50 years old now, clubs like that, it is never too late to think strategically and plan things out so that you’re making best use of resources, best use of people, and the budgets that you’ve got, which are increasingly under pressure.

Natalie Doyle:

Yeah, absolutely. It’s the importance of that clear direction isn’t it?

Mike, how about for you? Why do you think it’s important to have a strategy in place?

Mike Hanaway:

Obviously, I’d echo a lot of what’s just been said, but I think the key point for me on that, is it’s the thing that brings everything together. And like Darren said, a lot of people get scared when you talk about strategy and they think, Oh My God, we’re going to have to do the same as the local council strategy on housing, and it’s going to be 48 pages long or whatever, but actually it’s just about convincing people that actually, we’ve already got a mission and an ethos and a plan of what we want to do, which is to run a good, well run football club. Are there extra bits that we can improve and help on? And that’s just binding all those things together. So it’s that-or about .in like you say, it can only be a one and two page document.

It could be something you can talk about at committee meetings, at AGMs. It can be flexible as well, depending on how the things going, but it’s just really sort of touching base regularly just to make sure that you’re all still going in the right direction. And it’s not as scary as it looks. You don’t have to draw one up from a fresh bit of paper every year. Most of it is what are we doing well, and how can we continue to do that? Succession planning is a key part of your strategy so that you don’t end up with two or three people doing everything. So it’s all those little bits and pieces, but bringing them together to make sure that we’re focused on what we’re trying to do rather than just drifting along.

Natalie Doyle:

Yeah. Those people are really important, aren’t they? I know that that’s something that you mentioned as well, Darren, in your answer, was around engaging the right partners. How important is it that you take people with you through that process?

Darren Lawrence:

Yeah, I think it’s essential. And again, any organisation I’ve worked for, you generally have the lead person or the person that’s driving it, which you need, but that person can’t do it on their own. If it’s only them nothing’s going to happen. But you do need that blend of both internal within your club, with the committee, if it’s a football club, the age group managers, the volunteers, everybody pulling in that same direction, which I guess we might come out with a few cliches tonight.

Mike Hanaway:

Definitely

Natalie Doyle:

Shall we keep a tally, just so we know how many cliches do come out throughout the conversation?

Mike Hanaway:

Can we play Cliche Bingo?

Darren Lawrence:

I guess they’re cliches because they’re true, aren’t they? Over the years, that’s what’s seen as important and it works. So yeah, I think people are a key part of that strategy and taking people with you, they might be just there for a short part of that strategy. They might be there for the long haul. They might just have a small part to play, a small job, or they might be involved across a number of different areas. But yeah, I think the people will deliver that for you and you are doing it with them and for them in terms of the players and the community of the club. So I think there is a job to do around, as we’ve touched on already, around that challenge around the word strategy and for busy people, for volunteers especially if you’re doing this stuff in the day job, do they really want to be doing it when it’s supposed to be fun, but I think it can be fun and it can be positive if it’s done in the right way, in a positive way.

And I think as Mike sort of alluded to there are people that have done it before that can help you, that around and about in the community and other clubs now as well. So I had some great news today. One of the clubs that I’ve been working withinon , Hampshire has received some Football Foundation funding. So I think that’s a great example. One of the first things we said to them was, have you got a strategy? Have you got a plan? And it’s not all about the funding. That’s clearly a carrot and an incentive, but I think if you are looking at funding, at developing your facilities, developing your club, that is one of the first things the funders will ask you, how are you organised? How are you structured? Are we going to invest in this organisation? Are they credible? So I think there’s more to strategy than just that, but that’s clearly a key part of it.

Natalie Doyle:

How do you approach that within your club, Mike? How do you approach strategy? Do you even call it strategy within your club?

Mike Hanaway:

That’s a great question. We do, but it tends to come through, obviously not a day-to-day basis. It’s not something that you look at every day or every week. We try and meet as a committee every month. So we have things on our standard standing agenda effectively that we need to monitor and check that we are heading in the right direction. So we have a standard agenda. We have those committee meetings, most important thing about those committee meetings are action points, because then you don’t just come back a month later and say, oh yeah, we were going to do that weren’t we, and we never did. <laugh> So it’s about refocusing ourselves a little bit. And I think, as I said before, a lot of our strategy is long-term.

So we’ve got a strategy around the ground that we currently rent from the Council which has been going on for a long, long time. Anyone involved in Footscray will tell you how painful it is. It’s a piece of land that the council rent to us on an annual rolling contract and we’re desperately trying to get that longer, so we can make some investment for it and get some funding on it, but it’s taking a long time. But that’s part of our strategy. But while we’re trying to engage with the Council and get them to change their long-term view on it, in the meantime, part of our strategy is to create a fighting fund of cash that we’ve got, so when that time does come, we can invest it.

We’ve got a short-term strategy around the ground to make sure that things like fences are repaired and it’s actually maintained properly and we’ve got a proper contract around it. So it’s not just a one line we want to improve this ground. Actually there’s some short-term stuff. 

There’s longer-term planning. There’s the desperate engagement with the Council piece that we’re trying to do. So it’s just refocusing ourselves and making sure we’re all communicating as a committee and that everyone knows what we’re trying to do around those big projects, but then also making sure that, following on from the Charter Standard stuff and the Accreditation stuff that we’re doing all those things that good clubs should be doing, which is part of our strategy, making sure coaches are checked and doing their courses and their First Aid is up to date, all the boring stuff that a committee has to do. But that should, in my view, that should be part of your strategy as well, to make sure that you are maintaining that standard, not just doing it once a year when your health check comes up.

Darren Lawrence:

Mike, can I, sorry, I’m doing your job, Nat, how do you join those, so the big kind of picture stuff, the strategy, vision of the big view of things, and those, I don’t want to say smaller, but those kind of every day, or weekly things that need to be done. How do you give both the right amount of time and resource?

Mike Hanaway:

It’s really difficult because as Nat said before, we are all in a volunteer situation. So we’ve all got jobs and I’ll be the first to admit that we can go a long time without things happening on some of the things we want to do. I think the key to joining them up is to make sure we’ve got that communication rolling. WhatsApp is the bane of lots of people’s lives at the moment. I’ve got about a thousand groups on my phone, but we have a committee group on WhatsApp, so if we are all tasked to go away and do some stuff or to chase bits and pieces up to get things done, then we are just making sure we’re all communicating on that as well.

So again, it’s not just four or five weeks later when we next meet that we have the role of updating each other. It’s just staying in touch and just trying to do the best we can with the resources that we’ve got and the resources are normally people. And again, around volunteers and strategy, it’s brilliant to bring as many people as you can and try and encourage them, but actually, those people are probably already coaching teams, so they’ve already put their hand up to volunteer and do a really important job for the club. And then we’re just trying to eek out a little bit more of their time. And particularly if they’ve got a skill set as well, if like said at the beginning, some people do strategy for a living, I do it in my work, and lots of people do have lots of skill sets outside of football coaching. So it’s trying to tap into those, but it’s not an easy one. 

We’ve got 350-400 kids, that parent pool you would think there’d be lots of people out there, but there seems to be <laugh> seems to be about a dozen, but yeah, communications is the one sort of takeaway I take from that to keep those bits and pieces going.

Natalie Doyle:

Yeah. And that links back to something you said earlier, Mike, around the need for the strategy to be flexible. How do you make sure that you are clear in what you want to do, but also you are open to maybe this isn’t actually the right direction we should be heading in? How do you know when it’s the right time to make those changes?

Mike Hanaway:

I think a little bit of that is experience. A little bit of that is being prepared to actually be flexible around things. If it’s not working, then you know, there is a famous quote “If you keep trying to do the same thing and getting the wrong answer, then you need to change tack” and we’ve changed tack a little bit on some of the stuff we’ve been working on with the Council and and and is – because I haven’t been getting the answers we want from them. So we’re trying different routes to try and work it. So I think again, it is a little bit like being at work, you’ve got to set a strategy, make sure you review it regularly, make sure you check the progress. If you know things aren’t working, then don’t be afraid to go back and look at it again. But as I said earlier, that’s not an easy thing to do. And particularly if we’re talking to young clubs and new clubs that are just starting out, that can sometimes feel like extra work, but it’s worthwhile. If you can, spread that load a little bit and make sure you’re looking at where you’re going.

Natalie Doyle:

Yeah. You must see that Darren as well, do you, with the organisations that you work with they’ll often probably have some sort of existing strategy maybe that they’ve had before they look at developing a new one? They’ve probably got some learning from that, I would expect. How do you take the good bits from that? And then add in anything new that needs to come in to make sure that they’re being adaptable and flexible, maybe not sort of stuck in their thought process.

Darren Lawrence:

Yeah, I guess over the last two years we’ve seen the impact of being flexible or not haven’t we? And those that are still here and have survived and managed to get through that are probably the ones that have had that forward-looking, flexible, creative, let’s get through this difficult period by trying different things. None of us had been through that kind of period before. I think it is important to have that mindset. In terms of some of the other organisations, I do some work for Quest, which is the sport and leisure charter mark. It’s a bit like Offstead, but not as detailed. So I’m in Places, Leisure, Freedom Leisure doing different work with different clients, Lee Valley, Sports Park, different local authorities.

Yeah, you do get to see a real cross-section of different approaches, but there’s very much an awareness that strategy is needed and required. I think there’s different levels of flexibility and of perhaps kind of forward-looking. So Sport, England have last year released a 10-year strategy. I think UK Sport, the same. Generally, we see three to five year strategies. And I think that there’s pros and cons of both approaches I guess. If longer term you’re really setting out your stall, aren’t you for that period. If you’re a shorter term, I think it does give you the ability to change direction or be a bit more nimble. I think as I’ve said, the principles are very similar in terms of having that strategy in place, this is where we think we’re going to go given the external environment and the internal environment that we’re working with.

The thing we can’t control is the external environment as we’ve seen. We do have a bit more control I suppose, but not total control over internal. I guess we just need to be mindful of that. And I think a plan is different to a strategy. A strategy is a bit more kind of vision like, it gives you a bit more freedom to change things, whereas your plan, and I would advise you have both, but then I would do wouldn’t I? <laugh>

Natalie Doyle:

Because you love strategy <laugh>

Darren Lawrence:

The plan is a bit more, this is what we’re doing next week. This is what we’re doing next year. Strategy is that broader view of where you’re headed. So yeah, the last two years has been a real test of that, I think for everybody.

Natalie Doyle:

Yeah, absolutely. We’ve become more flexible than ever haven’t we over the last two years?

Mike Hanaway:

Yeah. I definitely agree with that as well. I think it just comes back to one of the things we said at the beginning. When we had to go through what we did for the last couple of yearsand when we all sat down and got the directive from The FA and said, this is what you can and what you can’t do, as a club, we all got together, rallied, came up with a plan, worked it. When football did come back and we had loads of restrictions around it, we all decided who was going to be the COVID officer, who was going to do this, who was going to do that. And we just got on with it quickly to make sure the kids carried on playing football. If we then turned around and said to someone, oh, guess what? We just changed our short-term,’ strategy, everyone would’ve gone, ‘Oh yeah, we did, didn’t we’, we didn’t call a meeting to say, we’re going to revisit our strategy and change it, but we actually did.

So we reacted to the circumstances that arise. Hopefully we never have to react to such extreme circumstances again, but those big tweaks, little tweaks, big changes are the things that you need to adopt. And it’s not as scary as having to sit down and write the plan because a lot of time you get on with it, it’s just making sure you record what you’re doing and getting those actions and getting those people to follow up. And once you’ve agreed where you’re going to go, to make sure that people carry on and do that. And that’s clearly in the last two years because people wanted the kids to carry on playing football in our case or kids and adults as well. But people got on with it.

Natalie Doyle:

So true, isn’t it? There might be people listening to this who think, oh, the idea of writing a strategy sounds really daunting, but actually they’re probably doing it. They’ve probably got an idea of where they want the club to go. They might not have formalized it into a plan or a strategy as in a document, but they probably have an idea between themselves or the committee, and that makes it less daunting, doesn’t it? When you look at what you’re already doing.

Mike Hanaway:

Yeah. That’s one of the things, before this, I made a few notes and one of the things I wrote down when you said about tips for different people, was that actually, they’ve probably got a huge chunk of it already. And it’s just formalizing that and then just making sure that those things happen. And they, as a committee, as a club, they probably all agree the core stuff that they want to do, is probably there for them already.

Natalie Doyle:

I guess that’s a lot of what you do Darren isn’t it, when you go into an organization it’s about bringing together all of the people’s ideas, all of the thoughts and experiences that you’ve already got and maybe helping them to formalize that a little bit?

Darren Lawrence:

Yes. So I worked with a football league club over the last, well, we finished this time last year. And the big part of that was what do the partners want? What do the so-called customers want? So, it’s a slightly different audience, I guess. We were talking to local authorities, to local development agencies, to community associations, community groups, and really trying to bring together everybody’s needs, and everybody’s kind of desire in terms of that club and that community. Some of the partners might be different and some of the conversations you might have might differ, and the community might be slightly more focused and smaller, and I guess, you know, your players are your number one and your parents, and everybody connected with getting football happening at the weekend or during the week and the evening.

But, yeah, that’s part of bringing people with you is to make sure you consult with them. And I have had some interesting conversations, not with the organization I mention, but in previous years where I think one director or one trustee, the query of why we were speaking to staff about the strategy. So this was quite a few years ago and that view, I think, is still out there, you know, why don’t we just tell people what we are doing from the top down? And for me, there has to be that leadership, as I’ve mentioned, which may well be top-down, but you’ve got to encompass and bring together everybody across the whole sections of the club and make sure that they feel part of it. Because they’re the ones really that, well, hopefully, they’re the ones that are going to benefit, but also they might need to contribute as well in terms of getting things delivered and developed. So yes it’s the whole picture.

Mike Hanaway:

That was really interesting for us pre-Covid. We started to think about that a lot in terms of player engagement. And we started off with a youth council within the club and did some really good things at the beginning, perhaps because we aimed it at 14 to 16, 18 year-olds. It was, and they’ll be the first to agree with me, it’s quite difficult to engage them in some ideas, you have to get them talking which is quite difficult. But they came up with some great stuff. They did some charity stuff, but we wanted to get their feedback on how the club was for them as well. Because ultimately it was really easy for us to be a committee of adults. And I know we’ve got a senior ladies team, we have got some adult teams who are in the club, but mostly juniors, we’ve got a committee full of adults and we were talking to parents a lot.

But were we actually talking to the people that we’re meant to be doing all the work for? Unfortunately, Covid knocked us back a little bit in terms of the youth council meeting up, but we’re trying to re-engage with now that we’re back again. But they did some great stuff, raising some charity stuff. They were really keen that we used the club message to get some of those ideas around doing stuff for food banks, doing bits and pieces around that, that they really wanted to get involved with, and getting some positive messages out really and try and support some of the stuff The FA did to make sure that that got off too so they’re fellow players, particularly around mental health and all those sorts of campaigns that goes out to the parents, but then does it filter down to the people that should actually be looking at it?

So, yeah, just, returning to your point where it’s engaging all the stakeholders with the caveat that you do have to guide a little bit and get the sort of questions out there that you need. It can’t just be 300 opinions and the one with the most votes wins. Ultimately you have to have a committee looking after it, but it’s just getting as much feedback in as you can to make sure you are trying to make the right decisions for the right reasons.

Natalie Doyle:

Yeah. It helps with that sense of belonging as well, doesn’t it for the players? If they feel like they’ve contributed to that, they’re more likely to be bought into what it is that you’re trying to achieve.

Mike Hanaway:

Yeah. And you also have to recognize that a huge chunk of players and parents, when you ask them what do you want out of the club, they say, well, I’d just like to turn up and play football, please.

Natalie Doyle:

Yeah.

Mike Hanaway:

But if you can engage with the ones that are more interested in other stuff, then absolutely.

Darren Lawrence:

And Nat, I think I mentioned at the start before we were recording about the previous podcast with David Faulkner, talking about the culture. And I think culture and strategy for me, are linked. I know there’s a quote about that, which I won’t repeat, but I think having that kind of inclusive culture across the club works wonders. You’ll attract new members, it will start to thrive if you’ve got that culture, that’s inclusive, you’re involving people, you’re consulting people. You might not be able to meet everybody’s needs or desires in terms of what they want, but I think just being listened to is really important and showing that you’re listening to your community and your players.

Natalie Doyle:

Definitely. So we talked a lot about how you might approach that strategy. Once you’ve got your strategy, how do you then drive that forward? How do you deliver it? I know Mike, you mentioned a good point earlier about making sure it’s always on the agenda of your committee meetings. What other tips have you got about how you take that forward?

Mike Hanaway:

I think it’s trying to share it and I’ll be the first to admit that we are not great at that. We haven’t been great at that in the past. Again, this is always one of the great things about doing something like this is, I’ve been thinking about strategy for the last couple of days, so <laugh>,

Natalie Doyle:

That’s good.

Mike Hanaway:

That’s good. And you know, I’m very much aware that if I said to the vast majority, well, I’d hope not the vast majority, but a good chunk of the parents or the players that are, what I call our senior players if they knew what the club strategy was or what the club’s ethos was, I kind of hope they would get it, but I appreciate that probably a load of them wouldn’t. And that’s because one, they might turn around and say, why am I interested in how you run the club? You just run it, I play football. And some of them might say, well, I’ve been interested, but where do I find out? So I think without endlessly communicating every sort of detail of the meetings that you have, we do bring our managers into probably eight meetings a year and just try and make sure that when we talk about stuff at our committee level, we make sure they talk about it.

We talk about it then with our coaches, when we have them into meetings, and we talk about it with the youth council as well, when hopefully we’re back up and running with them. But for me, the difficulty then is we rely on that cascading downwards. So it’s really difficult to know when that cascading stops. So will all 600 parents know what our strategy is? Probably not. Would they know maybe more importantly, if they wanted to know, would they know where to ask? Yes. 

There’s a parents’ rep, there’s a chairman, the committee is known and they know when we meet and we have AGMs, etc. So if they want to know, they can find out, but do those messages go out all the time? I’m not sure, is the answer.

Natalie Doyle:

Yeah, and as it cascades downwards, the message can get diluted a bit can’t it as well? And actually, you really want the message to get through to those people. because those parents could be your potential volunteers of the future, you would hope. So it’s about trying to make sure that they still understand what it is that the wider club is trying to do.

Mike Hanaway:

Yeah. And I think, like you said, Darren, before, it’s when someone said to you about, why do the staff need to know and be involved in it? It’s that any organization is engaging with everyone within it, and getting the right level for that. And that can be hard without bombarding people with newsletters and emails and WhatsApps. People can switch off if you do too much, but people also want to know, if you don’t do enough, so it is a balance.

Darren Lawrence:

I think the only thing I’d add to that is, the communication point’s really interesting, isn’t it, never before have we had so many ways and so much communication, which is great but also can be a downside in terms of demands on people’s time, especially if they might be involved in your club, but busy people are generally busy because they’re doing lots of other things as well. But the only other point I was going to mention was I think it’s important to celebrate the strategy and your progress, and you can do that in a number of different ways which kind of tick the boxes for you as a club, but also engage people in different ways. So whether that’s an in-person event around pulling some ideas together around an England game or something that you might do collectively as a club, it might be your presentation evening, your AGM, just trying to join different things together and then making the strategy part of that.

So that it’s not seen as this separate entity that’s happening over there. It’s central to the club in terms of what’s going on.

Natalie Doyle:

Yeah. That’s a really good point. I need to start wrapping up the conversation, but I feel like we’ve got loads more that we can still cover. I’m going to get your brains focused now. So prepare yourselves. I want you to think about if you’ve got clubs or organizations who are listening to this, who are looking at how they develop a strategy and how they deliver that, what would your top tips be? I’m not going to limit you to a number, just your top tips. You can choose how many you think are top

Mike Hanaway:

So I think one I said already was, don’t be afraid of it. Because you’re probably doing the vast majority, if not, at least a good chunk of it already, and it’s just getting down what you are doing already onto, I was going to say onto paper then, but that makes me sound very old, doesn’t it, but onto some sort of electronic storage. Don’t be put off by the size of the task. And secondly, for me, just ask for help. There’s so many people out there willing to help, whether that’s your County FA whether that’s FA mentors, all sorts of organizations. There’s lots of great podcasts you can listen to about strategy, including this one.

There is so much you can get help from. And you’d be surprised as well if you talk to other clubs. You can be rivals on the pitch, but all your local clubs are made up of committee members who are like you, trying to do the best for their clubs. Chat to your County FAa and they can put you in touch with a club that might be further down the track than you are that might look like they’ve been on a similar journey to the one you are starting and that’s really useful. And those people tend to be people that are happy to have phone conversations with you and how it went for them. So yeah, that would be my top two. Don’t be scared about the size of it and ask for help.

Natalie Doyle:

Great tips. Darren, what have you got for us?

Darren Lawrence:

Yeah, I can’t really add much more to that. I think I was going to say chunk it down, it doesn’t need to be this massive task. You can chunk it down into smaller steps. Start small. Start where you are and build from there. I think the County FA is a great shout. I think it’s better now, but maybe over the years, they’ve not been seen as the first port of call for clubs around this kind of area, but they should be. Because they’ve got a lot of really good staff trained in this whole area around planning, development planning, and they’re there. They’re a resource, free of charge, to go and work with and they want to work with you. Active Partnerships as well have got some great resources, great resources online. Some of the Sport England Club Matters resources are online as well, speaking to other clubs as Mike said. And yeah, I think maybe the only other thing is, get a team of you within the club, so it doesn’t just fall on you or someone else to drive it. I think there is definitely power in getting numbers behind this and getting that momentum going.

Mike Hanaway:

Yeah, I think just to add to that as well, even if you know someone within your parent group may not want to volunteer to be chairman or club secretary, that’s like an every day, every week role, actually, if part of your strategy is to develop project X, you might be able to create a little project group where their skillset fits nicely and it brings them on board. So, yeah, like you say, breaking it down into those chunks is a good way to get volunteers on board as well.

Natalie Doyle:

And then they might get the bug as well. They might come on board and just help you for that bit. And then they decide actually they want to do a little bit more.

Mike Hanaway:

Yeah. Then we can all retire and just let them run it. Great.

Natalie Doyle:

On that note, there’s some really good advice in there. Thank you both very much for joining me to talk about strategy today. It’s been really interesting. Lots of really great tips there, I think for clubs. So thank you very much for giving up your time.

Mike Hanaway:

A pleasure. Nice to talk to you.

Darren Lawrence:

Thanks Nat. Thanks for inviting me.

Natalie Doyle:

I really enjoyed that conversation. I think Darren’s right. Strategy can sometimes be perceived as a bit dry, but I think both Mike and Darren showed how it can be realistic and how you can chunk it down and make it achievable for your club. There were some fantastic tips in there as well around the importance of celebrating strategy and the progress that you make and about involving key stakeholders in developing your strategy. Mike also talked about the importance of involving the voice of young people, especially if you’ve got young people involved in your club, which you probably have. Also, it doesn’t need to be called a strategy. It can be a plan. And you’re probably already thinking about what that might look like for your club or organization. 

I hope you found the conversation useful. 

We’ll be back again next week with another two. Fantastic guests. Thank you very much for listening.

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