Grant Morrison, Sports Development Officer, Glasgow Sport explains how they used the Change Record tool to improve new cycling activities in Drumchapel.
Simply put, every organisation that receives funding wants their project to go to plan. Time is invested in collecting information and knowledge, reasoning and formulating a strategy to make an impact in line with the funder’s aims as well as delivering your organisation’s objectives.
In an ideal world, you get everything right the first time and all goes as planned but unforeseen circumstances, different environments and possibly the biggest variable, involving people in the process, means that even the best laid plans don’t always have the anticipated results.
Instead of being scared of making mistakes we need to embrace the opportunity to learn what does and doesn’t work. We all make changes to our work in order to improve or become more efficient and effective, but how often do we share our findings in order to help ourselves and others in the future?
We found at Drumchapel Sports, a voluntary run Community sports hub, that recording changes we made to our cycling project using the Evaluation Support Scotland Change Record has helped us improve our strategy for getting inactive people more physically active. By recording the changes made we have also been able to share our experiences with others in the sector in a more efficient manner.
The development of new cycling activities in the area was exciting; we had an experienced partner with a strong track record of delivering successful programmes. The infrastructure was in place: bikes, helmets, storage and a qualified voluntary workforce. All that was needed was the ‘hard to reach’ participants to take advantage of the opportunity.
A few weeks in, it was clear that the programme wasn’t working as planned. A review of the project quickly showed some areas for improvement, the messages weren’t getting to our ‘hard to reach’ group and we needed to CHANGE our approach. So in a couple of weeks we changed our marketing strategy, the message we were trying to get across as well as developing links to more local groups. Four weeks on from our review we had a successful project and had reached those who were once seen as difficult to engage.
Being able to make changes that deliver a better project is gratifying but in order to truly learn the lessons we needed to record the changes. Writing down what changes were made using the ESS Change Record allowed the project to evaluate the changes and adjustments made to find out what really made the difference. Recording the events has allowed us to learn so much more from the project, it has given us a story to tell so that colleagues across the sector can learn what really works and improve their practise.
As ex-table tennis star, Matthew Syed concluded in his book Black Box Thinking, evidenced so positively by the airline industry, success most often follows something experienced by all of us: failure. The ESS Change Record is a simple and effective way to embrace and learn from our failures and the changes we make to improve future performance on the road to success.