Introduction and Context

This is the story of the GM Moving Journey up to September 2018.

Early last year we commissioned an innovative team of researchers (the Revaluation Collective) to help us capture the story of GM Moving to date, because we knew that there had been so much value and learning over the last three years – and we did not want to lose it.

The research took the form of collective storytelling, leading to collective sense-making. Each of 15 system leaders from GM and beyond[i], who had played a pivotal role on the journey was interviewed to capture their individual accounts of what happened and how. The Revaluation team then weaved the facts of the stories together to create a single chronological account of the journey, and draw out the narrative about the value of GM Moving that went with the facts.

The resulting storyline is retold here: it shows that how the leaders in this work have been laying the road together as we have travelled. It also suggests that the value is in, and has flowed from, the ways of working we have established – these are spelt out at the end of the story as a set of ‘Pointers for Leadership Practice’.

In addition, people working in other places ask about the journey Greater Manchester Moving has been on so far and what we have learnt; whether about challenging inactivity or in wider system leadership on other agendas.

What follows is our story so far; other places will have their own stories.

What is important, in sharing our journey, is that it there is no ‘should‘ for every place. All we can share is what we did, based on where we started from.

Every place, its circumstances and conditions are different. Those leading in each place will use their own judgement and take what they want from our story, before reinterpreting it as part of their own journey.

One of the things we found out is that ‘ticking boxes’ is not success to us. We need long term, sustainable change, across the Greater Manchester population, and to reduce our activity and health inequalities. In our transformational change we are envisioning something different that is not necessarily an end state but is continually evolving and developing. We are trying to create the conditions for success, and these take time to come to fruition. We are working at multiple levels and breakthroughs sometimes come from unexpected places.

The question of success depends what you place value on. As a speaker at a recent Public Service Reform event in Greater Manchester said, we need to measure what matters, otherwise;

“There is a danger that we may meet the target, but miss the point”.

Similar learning is emerging in the Sport England Local Delivery pilots across the country; ‘'not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.’

It is also important to say that we are still grappling with many questions of our own and are always looking outside of Greater Manchester to see what we can learn from others. It is hoped that sharing our learning in this way, will contribute to an open, ongoing, collaborative conversation with others who share similar ambitions, and are using similar, and different approaches.

There is no single 'true story' of any journey. There are multiple stories, and different perspectives. No one can see the whole system or the whole journey from any one place or point in time. No one can be truly objective, and the Revaluation collective have been keen to point this out as they have interpreted the findings and focussed on the elements of stories that held most meaning for them. However, the quotes that provide much of the story which follows are from people interviewed by the Revaluation team, so they represent evidence from multiple voices and perspectives. Note these appear in itallics.

Other people who have been on this Greater Manchester journey will have perspectives to add. They may disagree with, or at least not recognise elements of this story. That is inevitable. We will keep listening and capturing different voices along the way, to keep learning and understanding. The journey is likely never to be finished – so neither is the story. It can be retold by these and other voices, and it is definitely ‘to be continued…’.