Delivering Sports Participation

April 3, 2012

The DeliveryDemon isn’t hugely fascinated by the 2012 Olympics. She didn’t bother with the ticket allocation fiasco. She hopes she won’t be in London, or near one of the few non-London venues during the event. She has no intention of going anywhere to peer through crowds at anyone trotting along with a badly designed bit of metalwork, which is the nearest many Brits will get to the Olympics. She certainly won’t be watching the Olympics on television, as she still hasn’t found a good reason to go out and buy one.

According to BBC talking heads, this means that the DeliveryDemon is not interested in sport. No matter that she walks for miles in the mountains and across country – that doesn’t count. Nor does bodyflying, an activity which tests muscles most people never get round to using. As soon as she finishes rehab from last year’s skydiving accident, she aims to be back flowriding and doing the occasional bit of running. But she’s not interested in sport. The DeliveryDemon was delighted when recovery reached a point that allowed her back in the gym and the pool – but that’s not sport. She’s looking forward to being able to take winter holidays with ice climbing and snowshoeing and cross country skiing and dog sledging – but according to those in the know, she’s not a sporty person. Obviously not, since she isn’t inclined to sit on the couch, munching and drinking, while watching others do something which may be active – or which may be as inactive as darts or snooker or angling or even poker, all of which are skilled, none of which contribute much to the body’s need for physical activity.

There’s a lot of justification of Olympic costs on the grounds that the fact of the Olympics will increase sports participation. It’s a pity that those who made the decisions to spend shed loads of public money didn’t do some realistic thinking:

  • What does participation actually mean?
  • How can you demonstrate that it’s happening?

Since the powers that spend our taxes clearly haven’t done this thinking, please allow the DeliveryDemon to suggest a few actions and measures.

Work is spread throughout the country so that people don’t have to spend so much time commuting that there’s no weekday time for anything else and no weekend time because weekends are used up with recovering from the week’s commute and doing all the chores there wasn’t time for during the week.

School offer a range of activities within the timetable with sufficient variety so that all children can particpate without feeling useless or stupid, and sufficient competition to give the competitive a way of measuring their success.

Sports funding includes reasonable support for public facilities which provide ready access for the public at times when people want to use them.

Bylaws and bureaucrats do not use health and safety as an excuse to prevent popular and emerging sports like inline skating and skateboarding and freerunning in public places.

Planning decisions require provision of public open spaces including green space, and sports facilties, with properly thought out arrangements for their long term upkeep.

That’s just for starters. The Olympics will long be remembered for the white elephant developments it leaves behind, but any effect it has on sports participation will be as transient as the annual blip  in tennis court use around the time of Wimbledon – but without Wimbledon’s annual influence. If the powers that be seriously want to influence public health for the better, they need to think more pragmatically than low usage monolithic development and nanny state pronouncements.


The 3 Layers of an Organisation’s Processes

April 30, 2009

Look at the processes in any organisation and they can be split quite neatly into 3 layers.

  1. Operations. These processes are the lifeblood of the organisation. Each and every one of them contributes directly to delivering goods / services to the organisation’s customers. The people operating these processes are the organisation’s front line, and woe betide the organisation which doesn’t recognise this.
  2. Infrastructure. Any organisation has to be managed, so it needs management processes. Think of Finance, HR, IT, Facilities…. The processes behind these functions are not directly customer facing but they are still essential to the business.
  3. Change. The invisible layer, but a particularly important one as change and innovation becomes an increasingly important factor in the survivial of an organisation. Think of the 3 Ps – projects, programmes and portfolios. These activities bring change and these activities need to be managed. Any organisation undergoing change has a need for change processes.

It seems to the DeliveryDemon that many organisations struggle to optimise their change processes. Change activities are often tied to the business unit undergoing change, with limited links to the broader business, and little if any coherent attention to the change processes themselves. Strategic planning activity gives rise to change in both Operational and Infrastructure processes, but many organisations give little thought to the Change processes which form the bridge between strategy and delivery.

The Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute’ Capability Maturity Model has been around for some time http://www.sei.cmu.edu/cmmi/. Although its roots are in software development it is in fact a widely applicable model. It classifies processes as:

  1. Initial
  2. Repeatable
  3. Defined
  4. Managed
  5. Optimizing

CMMI Models are a good foundation for assessing whether Change and other processes operate reliably and consistently. What they don’t provide is a model of good practice for the processes being assessed.

As change and innovation become ever more important to the success of commercial organisations, the DeliveryDemon is watching to see which organisations are leading the thinking when it comes to optimising change management in order to deliver strategy effectively.