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Sport Governance Principles

Principle 3: The gameplan

a clear vision that informs strategy

Principle

The board is responsible for overseeing the development of the organisation’s vision and strategy as well as determining what success looks like.

Benefits
  • Good strategy ensures organisational resources are used in a coordinated manner for maximum return.
  • A clear strategic plan means organisations can be proactive rather than reacting to situations as they arise.
  • There is consistency in board decision-making.
  • Staff and volunteers are more effective as they have clear targets to work towards.
  • Members understand the direction of the sport and feel connected to the outcomes.
Questions to ask
  • Why does our organisation exist? What are we trying to achieve? Is this documented and published?
  • Would all members and directors know and agree on the vision of the organisation?
  • Do we have a strategic plan that is aligned with our purpose and vision?
  • How does the board ensure it makes decisions in line with our strategy?
  • How does the board communicate decisions in the context of the approved strategy?
  • Does the sport have an aligned strategic plan, particularly across national and state levels?

What are objects and purpose, vision, and strategy?

The objects and purpose of an organisation, found in the organisation’s constitution, are usually quite broad. The objects and purpose provide legal permission for the allocation of resources towards the stated objectives. Vision outlines what an organisation is specifically trying to achieve, while the purpose describes what the organisation does. Strategy is the way in which an organisation will achieve its objects, purpose, and vision.

Why is strategy an important part of governance?

Strategy connects the objects, purpose and vision with the organisation’s operations and activities. A clear strategy guides the organisation and provides a framework for decision-making. When making decisions about investment, particularly large and impactful decisions, an effective board will ask how the proposed course of action contributes to the achievement of the strategy.

What is the role of the board with respect to vision and strategy?

A board leads a vision which is activated through good strategy developed in consultation with members. The scope of strategy may vary from organisation to organisation. Well-resourced organisations may have an ambitious strategy focused on growth requiring significant investment. Organisations experiencing difficulty may be better served with a strategy focused on consolidation or returning to stability.

The board should explore and understand the interests, aspirations and requirements of its members and stakeholders to develop a strategy for the organisation which is aligned with the overall strategy of the sport. The strategy should offer all stakeholders a clear picture of what success will look like for the organisation and how success will be measured by the board. The strategy should be reviewed annually by the board. Regardless of the method of development, it is the board which ultimately is responsible for monitoring the progress of the strategy.

Example behaviours and actions

Board
  • Discuss and review the vision of the organisation to ensure it remains relevant as a guiding statement
  • Consider the organisation’s environment, resources and risk appetite when developing and approving a strategic plan
  • Draw on internal and external sport expertise when developing and evaluating the execution of strategy
Directors
  • Use knowledge, expertise and experience to inform the board’s discussion on strategy
  • In boardroom debates, ask how a proposal relates to the organisation’s strategy
Organisation
  • Collaborates with critical partners to develop an aligned strategy
  • Publishes the strategic plan and develops mechanisms for regular, published reports on progress
CEO
  • Provides the board with the information it needs to formulate strategy
  • Communicates the purpose and strategy to staff and volunteers
  • Creates an annual operational plan for board approval which progresses the strategic plan

Recommendations

A set of good practice suggestions, which should underpin the Board’s considerations in applying this principle.

The board approves a four-year strategic plan which is reviewed annually.
The board approves annual operational plans and budgets.
When developing strategy, incorporate input from member bodies and other key partners.
Proposed strategy is specifically considered against the organisation’s risk framework.
The board reviews an evidence-based business case which incorporates budget, risks and accountabilities prior to making major decisions.

Resources and tools to help

Below are some resources to assist with this Principle. For guidance, or to discuss how your organisation may best implement good practice in this area, please contact your state or territory agency for sport and recreation. For NSOs, email your query to SportsGovernance@ausport.gov.au and a consultant will contact you.

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