Peter_2520Keen_281_29Next week marks a year to the start of London 2012, and at UK Sport we will be inviting the British media to view our Mission 2012 tracker boards to see what sort of shape British Olympic and Paralympic sport is in.

The boards, which cover the largest walls in our office, tell a compelling story of the work done over the last four years to ensure British athletes are best prepared for the extraordinary opportunity they will face in 12 months' time.

If I am honest Mission 2012 is starting to feel a slightly inaccurate name for the process UK Sport has developed to drive and monitor the development of the high performance system in this country. It may sound clichéd, but in our minds London definitely represents a milestone (albeit a unique and hugely important one) rather than the ultimate end point of this incredible journey. Indeed, much of our current work now is about ensuring we can maintain the success we are confident will be achieved in 2012; Project Rio is already a daily reality for me, and the Project Sochi tracker board is starting to fill up.

It was a pleasure to speak at the launch of Team GB House last Tuesday. I was happy to reiterate our goal of top four in the Olympic medal table and second in the Paralympic medal table, based on the quality of our dialogue with sports through Mission 2012. Our equally important goal of winning more medals across more sports than in Beijing also remains on track.

It's important to state Mission 2012 was also designed to enable UK Sport to capture examples of excellence and share these as best practice, as well as to allow us to target additional support to sports who identify challenges they need help with. This brings our specialist support teams into close contact with athletes, coaches and Performance Directors and thus adds to the level of insight we have into the collective performance potential of both Team GB and Paralympics GB.

UK_Sport_Mission_2012_boardsSo how does Mission 2012 actually work? Sports reflect on their World Class Performance Programme at three key stages of the year – pre-season, mid-season, and at the the post-season review.

We ask them to report against what we term the three  dimensions of success: their Athletes (how they are developing and performing), their System (pathways, processes, infrastructure, support services) and the Climate (the mood in the camp). These dimensions then break down into a total of 30  discrete elements, which helps sport drill down into to the components which may hold the key to performance breakthroughs.

Our team of Performance Advisers, who have a portfolio of sports that they work with on a day to day basis, work through this process with each sport's Performance Director in order to support their submission, but also to 'challenge' the sport and provide a different perspective.

The submissions are then reviewed by the Mission Panel, a group of high performance experts with a wealth of knowledge and experience, who help us to identify common themes and formulate solutions where sports have identified challenges they need help with. Sports often come to present to the Panel themselves if they are experiencing challenges, or have best practice to share.

To put this in perspective the latest round of submissions identified 31 new 'need helps' from 22 different sports, to which our performance team are now reacting and providing appropriate solutions to individual issues, or matching a sport that 'needs help' with one that excels in that particular area, in order to share expertise.

To some Mission 2012 might appear just a set of traffic light ratings on a tracker board, but I believe it has brought about more openness and honesty within the high performance system and has reduced the chances of emerging challenges becoming real problems. It is also building a data bank of insights and lessons learned that will continue to inform our high performance system for many years to come, not least on the roads to Sochi 2014, and Rio 2016.

Peter Keen is Director of Performance at UK Sport and will be discussing the latest results of the Mission 2012 process alongside UK Sport chief executive Liz Nicholl, David Faulkner of GB Hockey and Lorraine Brown of British Handball on Monday at UK Sport HQ in Russell Square