Forward Thinking, Industry


This post is the first in a two part series by David Hood from Doing Something Good  inspired by the recent Insights and Innovation Lab, presented as part of Vicsport’s Forward Thinking Series delivered with support from VicHealth.

Emerging Trends

The business of community sport is changing. What members want from service providers, how participants in activities prefer to organise, and the reasons why people get involved in sport are all undergoing a significant shift.

These emerging trends in sport and physical activity are examples of what’s been called 'The Big Shift'. Broader societal and technological trends that are part of this shift include:

  • the rise of peer-to-peer technologies that are feeding the growth of the share economy (also known as collaborative consumption), and a trend away from ownership to access
  • scaled customisation of everything from shoes and bikes to granola and surfboards
  • manufacturers moving from producers of their own designs, to platforms for customers to create
  • a shift in consumers wanting to own more things to having more unique and memorable experiences (worthy of a story)
  • the decline of 9-to-5 schedules and the rise of mobile free agents (enabled by mobile technologies and coworking spaces)
  • more segmented life stages (childhood, tweens, teens, emerging adulthood, third age)
  • wearable technology, implants, the quantified self movement, telemedicine and the biometrics revolution
  • a move from mass production and mass marketing to cater for microniches
  • pop-up stores, restaurants, exhibitions and experiences
  • the growth of the DIY economy, the maker movement and 3D printing
  • lifehacking to optimise time, nutrition, work efficiency, travel, learning and habits
  • online platforms and technologies for trade that leverage reputation and trust between users

Looking for more inspiration and information on social, consumer and technological trends? Check out Springwise and Trend and Tonic.

The End of Business as Usual

Driven by social technologies and the ability of consumers to self-organise and influence brands, It's what futurist Brian Solis says is ‘The End of Business as Usual’.

So what does this mean for the community sport sector? It means that we need to start thinking differently about what the business of community sport is. The kind of thinking that gave rise to initiatives like Tough Mudder, the Australian Open’s AO Blitz, Basketball Australia’s 3 x 3 and Red Dust .

For participants at the Insights and Innovation Lab it meant:

  • better understanding our target market - finding out what they need and identifying gaps as opportunities
  • providing options for people that fit in with their routines
  • being more inclusive with the growing diversity and unique needs of our communities
  • focusing on retention rather than recruitment
  • more innovative membership models that provide flexible options that are easier to sign up for, change and cancel - eg. pay as you go
  • partnering with other clubs or other sports providers for unique membership offers, events and use of facilities (and an end to competing over funding)
  • changing the way we connect and communicate - online and face-to-face - to build stronger relationships and trust
  • utilising digital technologies to enable people to connect with each other and share stories of achievements
  • a shift from traditional organised sport to a desire for activities that are more fun and engaging
  • a need to build the capability of clubs, associations and other providers to be more innovative
  • new structures that account for a decline in volunteers
  • being able to identifying and taking advantage of emerging opportunities more easily
  • the need for new governance structures that make it easier to respond to changing business of community sport

So how might we respond to the changing business of community sport and think differently?

Real Innovation Comes from Designing for Real Human Beings 

To start with, let’s take a look at the innovators. Fast Company's annual listing of the 50 most innovative companies sees a mix of organisations from across diverse sectors including retail, food, health and fitness, entertainment, community, social enterprise and education. What’s the common thread? As a priority, these organisations put the needs and values of the customers/users/members at the core of the design and delivery of all their products and services - and in many instances they are designing these products and services with those that they are designing them for. This helps them to create things that people love and can’t live without.

Think about your favourite product, service or experience. How much do you value it? How often do you mention it to others? These organisations understand who they are designing for, and design solutions that help users to solve their problems and overcome any hurdles they face to trying something new.

Want to know more about how to generate great ideas that your members, customers or community are going to love? The next session in Vicsport’s Forward Thinking Series on Thursday March 19 is focused on generating ideas simply and quickly. Register here.

All over the world, businesses, government, not-for-profit and community organisations are adopting the practices and methodologies associated with design thinking, specifically human-centred design. Most noticeably, though, leading organisations are not only doing innovative things, they have adopted a design mindset and integrated a human-centred design approach to the way they design and deliver products and services, and also to the way they operate. This shift to a design mindset means that innovation isn’t just something they do, being innovative has become part of their DNA.

The good news is, that adopting a design mindset can start with just one person. Using human-centred design methodologies on the design and development of new products or services can help to demonstrate their value and pave the way for a more innovative approach to any institution. There are a bunch of useful resources available online from leading organisations such as IDEO, Stanford University’s and the UK Design Council.

Looking for inspiration on design and innovation? Check out Fast Company and Design Taxi.

Stepping into the Future

In our next post we’ll explore how to identify emerging opportunities and ensure that we are better able to respond to this rapidly changing world more effectively - now and in the future.

Learn more about Vicsport’s Forward Thinking Series here.

Register for the next session in the series, Generating Ideas Simply and Quickly Workshop on March 17 here.


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