Telling the WE Story

In this blogpost Dr Rachel Hughes, Head of Insight at Sport Wales, looks at why she thinks telling the WE story is important for Wales’ wellbeing.

I’ve had the privilege to work alongside some great people in helping to shape the forthcoming shared learning seminar on The Future of Governance: effective decision making for current and future generations. Many of us in the Group have not worked together before. We came together for a shared purpose, looked at things through different lenses, and have developed a seminar, which we hope, is creative and stretching. Central to the seminar, as Alan Morris articulated in his recent blog, is understanding and developing behaviours that unlock our resources in far more creative and sustainable ways.

Through OUR work, WE have listened and looked for the emerging entity. WE have asked ourselves, what do WE want to happen here? What’s best for US, all of US? What’s OUR next step? WE have consciously tried to help seminar participants look for the unseen threads that connect US all. To tell the WE story; the story of possibility.

The cover of The Art of Possibility: transforming professional and personal life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin ZanderIf any of you have read The Art of Possibility: transforming professional and personal life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander then it’s likely that you know what I mean by telling the WE story. If you haven’t, I highly recommend reading it. This book sparked my thinking about where we’re at as a leadership team in Sport Wales – our behaviours, our connections, our development, our possibilities – and the unfolding of these in the context of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.

Typically when we work in an organisation, we naturally view the world from the inside looking out. The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act encourages us to also have an outside-in perspective. To see things through the eyes of others – of (potential) collaborators, of service-users, of citizens, and most importantly of future citizens – and to look at what is possible. In order to do this, we need to shift our operating system; the matrix that guides our behaviour.

In Sport Wales we are trying to do this in two interconnected ways.

The first is about understanding and measuring our impact, and telling the compelling story (of sport). We’re using theory of change to help us with this. Through workshops over the coming months, we’re looking to draw out the theories of change that link our key activities to key outcomes for both sport, and Wales’ wellbeing.

In doing this, we recognise that there could be a tendency for us to slip into process-mode and not consider that whilst results are the outcome, people (our behaviours) are the source.

So built into this work is the opportunity for us to both pause and reflect on what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. And to develop a new lens through which we will be looking at things. One that incorporates the wellbeing goals, the ways of working, and for us, the DNA of sport (the things that need to be considered in order for someone to be hooked on sport – motivation, confidence, opportunity and resources, awareness, and the experience). This lens should have citizens at the centre, and will help us have an outside-in perspective.

The second is concerned with developing our leadership team. We know that our (leadership) behaviours determine results, and we are giving this increased focus. Importantly, not as individuals, but as a team. This is where I have found the WE story most helpful.

The WE story “points to a relationship rather than to individuals, to communication patterns, gestures and movements rather than to discrete objects and identities. It attests to the in-between. Like the particle-and-wave nature of light, the WE is both a living entity and a long line of development unfolding.” And in essence, this is what we’re moving to as a leadership team.

WE need to practice being US. US as a leadership team in Sport Wales, but also US, all of US in Wales, for the wellbeing of future generations.

By telling the WE story, each of us becomes a conduit for this inclusive entity. It points the way to a kind of leadership that is based on the courage to speak on behalf of people and for the long line of human possibility.

We’re at the start of this journey, one that will be in constant motion! I hope that by sharing our current thinking and approaches that this it will provide opportunities for debate, openness, further learning and sharing, and a narrative around US.

Here are some steps to help US practice :

  1. Tell the WE story – the story of the unseen threads that connect us all, the story of possibility
  2. Listen and look for the emerging entity
  3. Ask: what do WE want to happen here? What’s best for US, all of US? What’s OUR next step?

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