Understanding your organisation's why - a guest post by the newly-formed Rise

A new strategic partnership has been forged this week to transform Northumberland and Tyne & Wear communities through a rise in active living.

The new organisation, Rise, has been formed after two previously independent active partnerships – Tyne & Wear Sport and Northumberland Sport – came together to work with businesses, local government, the health sector, education settings, and the justice system among others, to develop more active communities across Northumberland and Tyne & Wear.

Chief Executive Officer of the new organisation, Clare Morley, was keen to share learnings from the newly-created team about understanding your organisation’s ‘why’, which has been a key focus ahead of the launch.


I like to fall back on the concept of ‘why’ when it comes to considering the reason that organisations exist, and ultimately the reason behind how some succeed and others don’t. Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk on how great leaders inspire action by starting with ‘why’ is something I frequently revisit; such a simplistic approach and yet something I’m sure many of us don’t spend enough time contemplating.

Coming in to the organisation last October was a great opportunity for me and the team to consider our ‘why’. In Simon Sinek’s words, what’s our purpose, what’s our cause, what’s our belief? Why does our organisation exist? Why do we get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?

That process led to a lot of self-examination in terms of what the organisation (in its two legacy formats prior to coming together in January) had focused on historically, and what is now needed in our region to shift the dial on physical inactivity, which is our charity’s area of focus. That’s not to say that what we'd been working on in the past wasn’t important or relevant, but that, looking through a different lens, were we truly working in the most effective way to support addressing physical inactivity across our region? Or was there more we could do, new avenues to explore, that could drive a greater change and reach a new audience?


We recognised that we wanted to think differently about the issues that people are trying to solve; by considering how movement and activity fits into their equations, lives across our region can be changed for the better. Our ‘why’, now referred to as our purpose, is therefore quite clear: we are here to help our partners unlock the power of physical activity to improve more lives across Northumberland and Tyne & Wear. This therefore stretches beyond the traditional health and wellbeing agenda, and into sectors such as education, employability, crime and disorder, transport, planning and economic growth. Articulating our why to ‘non-traditional’ sectors is not necessarily an easy task, but some of the greatest gains will be made if we are able to achieve this.

If you haven’t recently considered your ‘why’, I strongly recommend you do. It really is a helpful process. Having the discussion with your team about your collective ‘why’ is important to ensure you are all pulling in the same direction. Perhaps your ‘why’ may have changed during the Covid-19 pandemic, or become less clear; take some time to talk it through.

In addition, if in Rise you see some connectivity with your work, I’d love to talk with you about it. Please do connect with me directly at clare.morley@wearerise.co.uk, or join the conversation across social media @WeAreRise_NE.