10 years too long?

The Youth Summit will herald the new era of service
provision for young people with emerging priorities from the Government’s
ten-year strategy for children and young people and the
Comprehensive Spending Review.

DK from MediaSnackers will be at the Youth Summit giving a keynote on digital
media at the Youth Summit - but he has also thrown in some wider throughs about
the event in this post on his
 about the justification of a 10 year strategy for youth. DK writes:

I also believe that a 10 year strategy for young people is not credible.
The world is moving at such an extreme pace it's simply isn't viable (unless it
is one that is fluid in it's design and focus).

Which raises an interesting set of questions. I find the idea of
having a 10 year strategy quite appealing in some aspects, not least because of
the pace of change. Long term visions with a strategic edge have a lot to add to
making change happen. They can act as a focus around which changes can be
analysed, understood and responded to. They can make sure activity doesn't move
off track. For this they need some considerable structure and stability. But, as
DK rightly notes, rigidly applied as a set of 'plans for action' without taking
into account dynamic changes over their lifetime - 10 year strategies could do
more harm than good.

So - it seems to be that we need to be able to think carefully about
what should and shouldn't be fluid in a strategy - and, particularly in the case
of a youth strategy, we need to explore how space to listen to young people and
to continually refresh our understandings of contemporary events and dynamics is
built into the core of a strategy.

As a starter for 10*:
(*Alas I'm not sure the examples I give will be
reflected in any way in the Youth Strategy... although I would be extermely
happy if they were...)

  • The top-level goals need to be fixed: Ending child
    poverty. Promoting children's rights. Addressing inequality of opportunity and
    access to services. These are the sort of goals that can only cease to be goals
    when achieved - and even then they continue to need monitoring...
  • The headline strategic actions need a 10 year lifespan:
    The value in a 10-year strategy is it provides space for action that
    neccessarily takes a long time. Building a sustainble transport system is going
    to need significant investment and time to develop. If we look at a policy like
    this over a 2-year horizon many of the changes we need will get ruled
  • The steps to achieve the strategic 10-year vision need to become
    less prescriptive over time
    : both because the outcomes of the previous
    step, and the context into which that step will be taken, are uncertain. If we
    see a description of exactly how youth provision will look in 10 years, rather
    than a description of how close it will be to respecting rights (alas unlikely)
    or how close it will have come to meeting outcomes (more likely) - then we're in
  • The strategy needs to explicity recognise the importance of
    listening to children, young people, and those who work with them:
    it needs to think carefully about the questions. If the strategy sets out a
    vision - then there is little point in engaging young people in two years time
    to simply ask about their visions for the future. The dialogue needs to get into
    the detail. It might be that a yearly review of the way provisions are
    implemented and communicated needs to take place to help policy makers and
    practioners regularly revise the detailed design of activities in light of the
    rapid changes that DK is concerned about.
  • Listening needs to lead to evolution not revolution: As
    it's put into action, a strategy should be open to the possibility that as
    society and key contexts change, some of its plans cease to lead to the outcomes
    desired (or the fail to achieve from the start) - but, if the dialogue about the
    details is working correctly, then it should, in most cases, be possible to
    evolve provision, rather than have revolutions in service provision that have
    the potential to create more problems than they solve.
Added by tim at 06/23/2007 - 14:50