Friday, 9 February 2007

Barry's Blog 10

...and the Survey says

I have never worked for a members organisation before. I have to say, it is a tough job. You lot are very demanding people; what one person finds they are totally happy with, another hates. If we change something somewhere, you can be sure that somewhere else, someone will complain; it is a conundrum without end.

So, on January 15th we closed the EBU's first ever attempt at a membership survey, at least as far as anyone can remember. Was it perfect? No, of course not. Was it worth it? Yes, for sure. Ironic really, that a number of members missed the point completely and complained about the structure and content of the survey!

Around 4,400 members responded which is hugely helpful, unfortunately, more than half on paper, which has made our job more difficult in wading through the results. This figure is interesting because the current status of the survey informs us that 76% of respondents said they have internet access at home but most did not use it to respond!!!

68% of those that responded said that they played in tournaments though many of these not in EBU congresses, which is interesting - because that means that 32% of non tournament players bothered to respond, for which we are very grateful.

In the April issue of English Bridge we will publish the results of the survey. In this blog I want to address some of the "written in" comments which I feel need some correction or for which I can provide an immediate answer.

To give you an idea of the polarisation of opinions I quote as follows:-

1) "I think the EBU does a good job and gets too much stick".
2) "My experience of the EBU organisation very poor, to say the least"
3) "It is a very well organised entity รข€“ cannot fault it"
4) "A load of rubbish"

This is the same organisation, four different members, opposite attitudes. I ask myself, how can we deal with these two views and keep them both happy? The answer is we cannot do that.

For the record; I and my staff are administrators responsible for daily operations at the EBU. We do not set ANY policy for the EBU. All policy matters are considered and made by the Board of Directors, who are themselves elected by the Shareholders, on behalf of the membership. So by all means address your criticisms of policy to me, and I can report them to the Directors, as I attend Board meetings, but please don't criticise the employees of the EBU for simply doing what they are told.

Many people, and I mean many, commented that the EBU spends too much time and effort on the elite of our membership. The Shareholders have already asked the Selection Committee to make a presentation at their next meeting on 23 February, which will allow for a full and frank discussion on some of -these issues. There will be minutes on the EBU web site in due course.

Many people added comments about Kettering. By now you should have noticed that after this season all of the events held there will be moved to a new hotel venue in Leicestershire. I hope this does prove that we do indeed listen to members comments and act accordingly.

Lots of comments made were about the new Alerts and Announcements procedures. The negatives certainly outweigh the positives, but there is far from unanimity in what people think. It is worth reminding people that clubs DO NOT (repeat DO NOT) have to use the announcement procedures, though most do. It is only EBU events that are required to stick to Orange Book rules.

Many people asked why we couldn't follow the examples of France and Holland who have quadrupled their membership, while ours is falling. There is a very simple reason for this; in those countries membership of their national bridge organisation is mandatory, like it is in England for the English Golf Union and many other similar organisations. It so happens that an increasing number of members, some of the policy makers and I think that this should be spread to all EBU affiliated clubs; I know that not everyone agrees with that view, but the pendulum appears to be swinging towards that system for the EBU. If every non-EBU member of an affiliated club became a member, our numbers would probably triple, and our subscription amount, and other charges too, could remain stable whilst allowing us to invest in promoting duplicate bridge across all age ranges in England, something that our members appear to want us to do as 60% of you believe there are not enough new faces in our game.

English Bridge magazine comes in for its share of praise and condemnation

"The magazine is dire. It is poorly written, disjointed and unfocussed. It lacks human interest."

"Magazine fantastic but too big either 3 pages or 1/2 size, no time to read it all"

How on earth are we to satisfy both ends of this spectrum?

A lot of people commented on the web site. As ever, views at either ends of the scale.

Members also commented that the EBU does not do enough for or engage enough with its clubs. This particular area of concern is about to be addressed.

A few other quick points

  • To the person that asked us to change the scoring system for duplicate bridge, sorry we can't do that.
  • EBU Officials are elected - not selected.
  • For the record; the EBU does not run any online bridge clubs. Bridgclublive is an affiliated EBU club, but we exercise no more control over it than we do any other EBU affiliate.
  • We cannot pick out specific responses from over 4,200 responders for specific emails. If you have a specific question, please email me and I will do what I can.
  • We are doing our absolute best to get Bridge into schools. Please pressurise the Education people in your own towns, not us. That is where the blockage tends to be.
  • We would love to have a rating system for all players as happens in France and some other European countries. However, as mentioned above, they all have universal membership and all use one scoring program. How do members feel about that?

Well, to finish, times they are a changing! Due to research undertaken by our policy makers, in the very near future we will be advertising for two new positions; a Communications Officer and a Club Services Officer. Please lookout for the adverts which will be placed on our web site and if you want to apply, or think you know somebody that should apply please let me know.

These two new members of staff will help turn the EBU into a better organisation - something we all are striving for on a daily basis. Oh, and by the way, we will still have three less staff than we had last year.