16/04/2019 | Finding Maindee
SWOT is an acronym.
To 'SWOT', is to analyse the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of an organisation as a form of appraisal. From it, you can discern the organisation's current position at a given point in time and forecast future potential.
Finding Maindee has undergone several SWOT analyses in its time. In this blog post, I will be discussing what observations can be made from these analyses, from 2014 to today.
In April 2014, before Maindee Unlimited existed, Maindee Festival Association commissioned Sue Barlow Associates to develop a bid for an arts-led regeneration programme for Maindee: Finding Maindee.
As part of the exercise, they carried out a SWOT analysis, and these were the findings:
Looking first at the strengths identified above, it is clear, that Finding Maindee benefitted from the respected brand of Maindee Festival Association (MFA), from the strong community spirit and the belief in grass roots, community arts that the MFA had fostered.
It seems to me also that, the opportunities identified were the first in a mapping exercise, that would help develop Finding Maindee: identifying partner organisations within Maindee, and the neighbouring areas, and more importantly, those with a similar mind-set, that would help to develop a community-centred approach.
Yes, this was a capital project - concrete would be mixed, and all manner of cabling would be laid, but Finding Maindee was first and foremost a community-based project, in which creative capital was equally important, if not more than.
To see the transition from MFA to MU, please see the attached Finding Maindee Project Plan, under Finding Maindee Project Evaluation Material. Look for ‘Developing our capacity to deliver’ on page 22, which outlines the proposed steps taken.
On 1st April 2019, Sue Barlow, of Sue Barlow Associates was invited back (from retirement) to the project, to assist in our evaluation.
‘Leaders’ were identified (individuals who were close to a specific element of the project and could share thoughts and feedback) and were gathered together, alongside available members of the management board of Maindee Unlimited, to take part in... another SWOT analysis!
Key achievements were identified, barriers to greater achievement were discussed and actions were proposed as to how we would do it differently next time, resulting in the following strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats:
Sue helped us identify broad themes and shared her observations, which I have summarised below. These will allow Maindee Unlimited to draw upon the lessons learnt from the experience of Finding Maindee and re-focus the vision and aims of the organisation.
Reputation and Achievements - Maindee Unlimited now has a reputation and track record with a major funder that will stand it in good stead for further development.
The Building & Business Planning - Llyfrgell Maindee Library is a major resource for the community but its on-going maintenance and future capability is unplanned.
Trustees - The Trustees have demonstrated that they can manage finance very well but a strategic business plan is required to turn the aspirations into practical achievement.
Volunteer management - Volunteers are the major resource in keeping Llyfrgell Maindee Library running, but volunteer management is necessary to keep the momentum and add value.
Communication & Marketing - The projects achievements are extensive and need to be summed up and promoted locally as well as to funders and other stakeholders; Methods of communication, to external stakeholders and the general public, have not always been successful. A Marketing Strategy needs to be established to ensure Maindee Unlimited and Llyfregell Maindee Library are kept kept in the public eye, that they have a sound reputation locally and are able to work with a wider range of partners.
The SWOT analysis was the first of two sessions, the second of which will take the form of a ‘visioning’ session in the next couple of days, and over the following few days, I will be revisiting the thoughts and feedback of the 'leaders'*, to further evaluate the projects achievements and lessons learnt.
*Areas of the project to evaluate:
New Paths/ Refreshing Maindee,
Public Spaces – covering the Indoor Spaces, or Library Refresh,
and the Outdoor Spaces: St Mary’s Community Garden and The Triangle, Communication,
Community Engagement (local residents, businesses & organisations),
and Project Governance.
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