From the aforementioned development meeting, there were 3 specific things that bothered me. Maybe these are just my inexperience and lack of knowledge or because the needs for our county differ from the others. I doubt it though given the chats I had with a couple of my counterparts.
1. National coordination. Although we are a national development group, there appears to be no coordination or priority of activity across the counties. There is a loose set of objectives against which our success should be measured but it is wide open to interpretation. We are each left to make our own decisions for our own counties. Whilst this has the advantage of leaving me to my own devices, I feel I will suffer by not having any consistent delivery plan on a national level.
Imagine successful businesses. Do they leave their regional representatives to undertake their own campaigns at will, or do they follow a focussed national campaign plan and work to it with local knowledge applied on top?
As an example, one of our criwn green bowls counties is doing some great and admirable work with disabled people. I am just not convinced that this meets the immediate issues of declining membership numbers or green closures. Which is the priority? I know where I think it lies right now.
2. Shared knowledge. Related to the above is the lack of information being shared on successes and failures. As a newcomer (without the benefit of a predecessor), I expected to be able to refer to some ‘best practice’ guides or case studies of what has been tried in other counties for me or for the clubs I am trying to help.
But this doesn’t appear to exist other than in other dev officers’ heads. I raised this as an action I felt needed addressing but I am not sure there is a mechanism to deliver this, or any way for someone at national level to take ownership of such a task.
It’s not clear to me how our dev group can get anything passed up to the national committee for action. It seems to be down to us as dev officers to get on with it.
3. Communication. This is the most vital element of all. Communication with the dev team is currently restricted to 2 face to face meetings a year, for which we are all required to provide a written report. It turns out that one other dev officer sends reports in to the BCGBA every month (a great idea), but I’ve never seen these. In the 12months I’ve been in post, the only communication I have had from the BCGBA is about the face to face meetings.
Communication to the wider public about crown green bowls is also non existent at a national level. Counties and leagues and clubs are left to do their own thing. Some do well, most don’t. We are bowlers, not marketers! There is no way that an individual club, league or county could drive a sport campaign to gain major website, newspaper or TV coverage. We need national campaigns.
I also got a glimpse into the wider structure for communication from the BCGBA down to club and bowler level. At present BCGBA info is passed to county representatives, to league secretaries, to club secretaries, to bowlers. Plus PDF newsletters posted to the BCGBA website (or were until the chap doing it stopped back in June and no replacement has been found).
This is a desperate situation. Bowlers feel distanced from their league and county committees. But they are disconnected from the BCGBA by an absolute mile. This needs fixing.
These are just my thoughts and observations. I have no solutions to offer right now although I have ideas I am trying for 2014 with the help of others.
If you have ideas, please share them!