Go out there and listen, look and learn from new people and places
Create communities and become your own disruptor (or someone else will)
Most of us tend to be in contact with ‘people like ourselves’ because we feel most comfortable that way. If you look at the Linkedin profile of the average golf club manager the vast majority of their contacts are…other golf clubs managers.
More than half of football is played away from clubs, with very little involvement from the various FAs, run by commercial and social entrepreneurs. Again, if you look at their LinkedIn profiles there is very little like contact between the ‘official’ football sector and ‘enterprising’ sector.
My work with SMN takes me all over the UK and Denmark and I meet and engage with people from diverse communities, skills and cultures. Trust me, I learn a lot from all of them (and hopefully, they learn a little from me).
Sometimes, sports bodies decide to engage with their stakeholders and they decide to run consultations where the senior people present their ideas to their clubs and others and then get some feedback. The only problem with that approach is the vast majority of people who turn up to those meetings are the same people who always turn up. With the same ideas and opinions, as always.
The less engaged can not be bothered to spend/waste an evening of their lives and if they got an innovative idea they are more likely to set up something themselves than trying to go through the often risk-averse system. As a consequence, many initiatives in community sport and physical sport are set up by frustrated people, who want to make something happen, outside the system: Just look at initiatives such as GoodGym, ParkRun and OurPark
Another example is tag rugby in Ireland
Tag rugby is a non-contact version of rugby, played by mixed-gender teams. In Ireland, there are more than 11,000 players of this growing format, something that is certainly not the case for the traditional formats of the games. Also, notice on the poster the huge number of corporate teams.
What is intriguing is that there is no involvement from the ‘official’ Irish Rugby Football Union.
The same is the case with FootGolf and SpeedGolf and the various golfing bodies. There are now around 200 footgolf courses just in England and growing (which is certainly not the case for conventional golf) and again there is very little engagement.
How to go out there and engage
First, read this story on how LEGO transformed by engaging actively with their customers