How a Business Plan
has helped BYDS
tackle ‘Mission Creep’

Who: Bankstown Youth Development Service
Collaborators since: 2015
Project scope: Business Advisory

BYDS (Bankstown Youth Development Service) has enjoyed immense success with inspirational projects like ‘R.E.S.P.E.C.T’, where primary school boys compose songs about domestic violence, and the Bankstown Poetry Slam, which provides a space for young poets to talk about issues that are important to them. Both projects have made waves internationally, while tackling social issues at home. But BYDS Director Tim Carroll concedes that a year ago the organisation lacked focus, and was “absolutely hopeless at marketing and promotion”.

He began meeting regularly with David Sharpe, Generate’s Director of Advisory & Consulting, to thrash out a new strategic plan. We spoke to Tim to find out more about the process.

How has strategic planning helped BYDS over the past year?

David has a laser-like ability to see the bigger picture and he helped us realise we were doing too many things at once – we needed to tighten up and focus on our core strengths.

Have you achieved this now?

Our new strategic plan focuses the hell out of us. We have a very clear vision: BYDS takes on projects that deal with issues of importance that are by, for and produced with young people from the local region, with a strong public outcome.

What are BYDS strengths and weaknesses?

The arts are embedded in the communities of Bankstown and South West Sydney through the work we’ve done, and government organisations are now looking at our projects as case studies in social cohesion.

We’ve got a really good eye for spotting talent and giving people the resources to fly, and we’re very good at creating arts events and platforms with minimal resources. Bankstown Poetry Slam and 4Elements (a hip hop music project) are both examples of events that started from nothing and are now attracting thousands of people, and tens of thousands of YouTube hits.

We have wonderful, clever staff and an insightful management committee, but we’re hopeless at marketing and promotion. And we were suffering from ‘mission creep’. Strategic planning has helped us reassess our priorities: we are much more focussed now.

Does your three-year strategy include financial goals?

We’re aiming to increase our percentage of earned income over the next three years. By 2019-20, 15% of our revenue should be earned income as opposed to around 8-10% today.

We’ve realised we can afford to hire a part-time publicist, and are starting to understand how we can capitalise on our community connections to attract funding from other sources.

What’s next for BYDS?

We have some amazing case studies at BYDS that show how high quality arts outcomes benefit communities. David has helped us build on this success by pointing out ways that we can diversify our funding and potentially expand projects like R.E.S.P.E.C.T nationally, or even internationally.

We’re embarking on an oral history project with Multicultural NSW, which will produce some incredibly beautiful work over the next couple of years, and a faith-based leadership program for young Muslims.

Overall, what’s been the biggest benefit of strategic planning?

Sometimes you need an outside eye that’s supportive but honest, and can provide financial guidance, too. David would often pose questions that I couldn’t answer straight away, so my subconscious was always working to answer them outside of our meetings.

We now have a draft three-year strategic plan, although we’re still modifying it. We’ll go through it and David will say, ‘That should be in the bloody plan, that’s really important’. The process has been of immense value.