Written by Graeme Sinnott, CSP Network, Performance Insight Manager
The release of new national sport and physical activity strategies over the last 18 months has further emphasised the need for the sector to have a deep understanding of communities, the geography within which they live and how sport and physical activity can integrate into their lives. But most important is that we use this insight to drive decisions.
Tim Copley, Director of Insight and Performance at London Sport, wrote a useful blog recently that sought to demystify ‘insight’, outlining what we mean by such a seemingly simple but complicated word and why it is now so frequently mentioned in the sector.
Over the last 18 months the CSP Network national team have worked closely with a number of CSPs to understand and support the different approaches being adopted to embed the insight they hold on people and place into every day decision-making processes.
A range of insight related improvements are underway across the network that can broadly be summarised into 3 areas.
- Enhancing understanding of customers, not just through the lens of sport
- Increasing the focus on planning for and measuring outcomes
- Embedding the above 2 improvements across the CSP
Through this work, a series of initial success factors have emerged on what creates a culture of insight driven decision-making within a CSP.
- Being insight driven is a function, insight is not the responsibility of just 1 individual officer
- By definition, the word function (verb) is ‘to work or operate in a particular way.’ Eg, the technology needs to function correctly in order to use powerpoint. Being insight driven is about using an in depth understanding of people and place to deliver objectives (eg, tackling inactivity). This requires knowledge and skills at all levels to drive decision-making.
- Collaborate to define your insight role
- Different organisations will hold different expertise, information and opinion on people and place. When brought together this can significantly enhance the ability to make effective decisions. It doesn’t necessarily need a single organisation to hold all the required skills to capture the information, but rather someone to facilitate collaboration to draw the organisations and information together.
- Be clear on the question you are trying to answer
- Before undertaking any exercise such as primary research or analysing data, the question to be answered needs to be very clearly defined. Eg, mapping the current supply of all sporting activity across a county is almost impossible. However, mapping the supply of activity for a specific audience that has been defined through analysis relative to the project objectives is much more realistic and useful. (eg, 14-18 year old females living in the most deprived wards in the county).
- Make the best possible decision at the time
- Consider the timelines on which a decision is required. If it is needed within a week then use what information you have, plug the gaps as best possible but make sure you are clear on where gaps remain and identify these. Being insight driven is a continuous process of learning and over time plugging knowledge gaps.
- Learn from what works but don’t forget what didn’t work
- Because we are insight driven it does not guarantee every decision will be successful. Sometimes projects do not attract the intended audience or the outcomes aimed for are not delivered. The most important thing is why this happened. Eg, why did the activity not engage the inactive audience targeted? What did work? This learning is then shared across the organisation in an accessible format to influence future decisions. Rather than make the same mistake, or capture the same information, again.
This blog has focused at a headline level on the emerging success factors when embedding an insight driven culture across a CSP. A future blog will be to look at the skills and competencies required within this, as well as the learning from the 2 insight related improvements on increasing understanding of customers and a focus on planning for and measuring outcomes.