For years, the National Autistic Society had been without a clear strategic direction. There was no north star to guide decision making, no clarity on why they exist, and a fear that they were becoming redundant. A lot of crucial work was happening across the organisation but its impact felt less than the sum of its parts. This was leading to frustration, confusion, and uncertainty about the future.
The only way to bring confidence and clarity was to be led by what autistic people and their families needed from society and from the NAS.
All autistic people needed to be heard, from all ages, backgrounds, and diagnoses. This meant taking a fresh approach to gathering insight, that built on familiar research techniques, like in-depth interviews, workshops, surveys and social media, with specially-designed accessible formats for people to participate, including art collages, audio submissions and school homework activities.
We also had to build on the expertise of those outside the organisation, like other charities, medical professionals and journalists, to understand their perspective on where the NAS should focus.
Finally, this insight had to be put into the context of the broader challenges facing the sector and the wider shifts shaping society. Through a series of co-creation workshops with staff, experts and autistic people, we combined insight, sector best practice, and future-gazing foresight research to create an articulation and blueprint of a society that works for autistic people, including the key milestones and outcomes to get there.
This Vision Blueprint then guided us as we worked with the executive leadership and trustees to create an organisational strategy to lay out the core beliefs, ambitions and principles that will guide the charity's work in the future.
The Society Vision became the new north star for the National Autistic Society internally and externally and was launched at the European Autistic Congress in October 2022.
It has been well-received by autistic audiences and partners, particularly the emphasis on autistic agency, collaboration and lifelong support.
The strategy is being now translated into operational plans that will set out the charity's work across departments for the next three years.
"‘’I'm really excited about the vision and strategy work. What invigorates me the most is the insight we've got from autistic people and families. It feels like we're moving forward with a vision that is truly authentic and built for autistic people.""
""I can't say enough about Good Innovation. They've been outstanding to work with. This is the most significant piece of work we've done as an organisation in decades""
Director of National Programmes