Designing support services

Whether you are considering setting up a strategy support service or looking to develop your existing offer, here are a few things you might find useful to bear in mind when designing services.

Meeting need

As with all your services, you’ll want to provide the type of support that best meets your users’ needs. What sort of help on strategy are your network members looking for? Consider too, that some organisations may not realise they need help in this area. They may come to you with another concern, such as income generation, or governance issues which could turn out to be a lack of strategic planning skills. Or you may feel there’s a general need for your network members to ‘up their game’ on strategy, to be more ambitious in their outlook in order to secure their ongoing survival and future success.

The right service

Once you’ve got a sense of the needs you want to address and have identified the outcomes you want to achieve in the light of your own organisational strategy [link to anchor], you can then explore what services would best fit the bill, from information provision to advice, training, or facilitating peer networking.


Providing information on strategy can offer a simple route into the topic. Rather than risk wasting time and effort producing new materials unnecessarily, take a look at existing strategy resources and sources of help such as websites and publications which you can signpost to or provide your network with.


Providing tailored advice to organisations can be hugely beneficial to those receiving the support. An external perspective can be both reassuring and liberating, enabling organisations to explore new ground. It can also help to validate the topic, encouraging clients to invest time in strategic planning. However, the depth of impact you will gain from this type of service will need to be weighed up against the capacity and skills you will need to deliver it effectively, and the limited reach you will achieve.


There are several train the trainer programmes on strategy support that could help you to establish your own strategy training programme. However, as training courses can be quite labour intensive to develop and deliver, make sure you investigate existing provision in this area that you could signpost to before devising a new offer.

Facilitating peer networking

Providing opportunities for organisations to talk, meet or visit others can be a very productive way to support your network with strategy. Sharing experiences can help to bring the topic alive and provide a practical handle on this tricky area. The training programmes now available will help you to develop confidence to facilitate discussions on this topic.

Your operating environment

If you provide support to organisations in a particular field, whether a sub-sector or a geographical area, why not consider developing a specific knowledge bank and/or guidance on your clients’ operating environment? Tailored information on relevant key trends that are likely to have an impact in your area will be invaluable to those you support. The Third Sector Foresight team can help you to develop skills in this area and you might find the drivers bank on this website a useful starting point.

More support for you

The rest of this section outlines relevant resources, pointers, training and peer networking opportunities available to help you develop your offer to frontline organisations.

[anchor] Develop your own organisational strategy

We also offer resources to help you develop your own organisational strategy:

  • our training programme for infrastructure CEOs on key trends
  • our dedicated forum on this website exploring the key trends for infrastructure and umbrella organisations
  • the PERFORM strategic planning framework for infrastructure.
Last updated at 17:54 Mon 12/Apr/10.


How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

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