Things done well, things that need to be done better
This is in response to a question on Fencing.net to each of the candidates
3 Things USA Fencing has done well over the past year:
1) Improved Financial Position
At the start of the quadrennium, the Association continued to be in extremely dire financial shape. We had no credit, a massive accumulation of unpaid obligations, shaky financial controls and things were worse than they had been the year before.
Since then, we’ve substantially reduced our unpaid liabilities, our budget variances are under control, and we look on track to be accumulating cash by the end of the calendar year or so. This has come from the diligence and discipline of our organization and Treasurer to stick to our plan and not our desires.
2) Deploying an independent website
Faced with being locked in to the extremely unsatisfactory USOC hosted website with a very tight deadline, USA Fencing managed to bid out and acquire a website that is substantially superior to what came before, and is actually capable of producing useful information. This was probably the first demonstration of technological adeptness we showed since we adopted Fencing Time and its online results functionality and bucks the trend we’ve established over the last decades of being well behind the time when it comes to increasing our efficiency.
3) From Tournament to Tablet
Our social media strategy has does a remarkable job of increasing our communication to the membership that wants to follow along via Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. It’s now routine to see important bouts even non-finals posted for public consumption when not long ago we never showed anything. This has been building for more than a year but this year felt like a breakout one.
4 Things USA Fencing has done poorly over the past year:
1) Make progress on most of the Strategic Plan.
(Here’s a copy of the most recent version I’ve found)
The Strategic Plan has 6 priorities:
1. Get solvent and create a sustainable financial plan
2. Grow membership and increase service, benefits and value to our customer segments
3. Strengthen coaching development
4. Increase athlete development efforts
5. Communicate with transparency
6. Tap into and broaden volunteer base
Of these, we’re making progress on 1. Which is a big deal, but we need to make progress on all the others as well. Specifically, priorities 5 & 6 should have minimal budget impact and ought to be accomplished in parallel to the financial recovery.
I haven’t seen any sign we’ve improved our value proposition to our customer segments, we’re mostly treading water there.
We have made zero progress on coaching development as an Association over the past year and this is a significant failing and is the reason I am running for office.
Our Athlete Development is strongly tied to the funding we can provide, so I will accept that as a partially dependent variable.
2) Communications, Metrics and Customer Service
Right now we don’t have a very good idea of how happy our members are with their experiences with the Association, what parts are going well and what parts are not. We don’t know if people are happy with the tournaments we offer or if they really want something else. We need to become more of a data driven organization and get in the habit of using actual numbers when making a case for projects, evaluations and progress reports. The Tournament Committee has done a good job of presenting figures in its reports, we need to get the rest of the organization on board and make sure the data we’re using are the important ones.
3) Committee and Commission Productivity
Our committee structure is severely flawed. We are unclear what our committees duties are, what we expect them to produce, whether they are doing a good job, or if we need to make any changes. Our committees need to be holding scheduled meetings with agendas and minutes, and we them to be clear on what is within their scope of responsibility and what is outside it. We need to be clear on what they are expected to output and followup to determine if that is happening or not.
Because I cannot ignore it
4) Organizational Technology
As an organization with a substantial amount of information that needs to be processed, we traditionally do this in very inefficient ways due to a lack of institutional desire to improve efficiency. We need to identify our business processes which take the most time and staff attention, and the information that is most useful to our membership and provide automated systems to manage those tasks. There should be an continuous effort to improve our efficiency and allow us to increase our service.