Crowdsourcing at Ebbsfleet United: building the Republic of Football

One of the exciting principles of MyFC was that it would allow ordinary fans to get involved in the decision-making at a football club, in a way that had never been achieved before, the theory being that the crowd could make a better decision than experts.

In recent weeks, for example, we’ve been voting on:

  • Season Ticket and Matchday ticket pricing
  • Home and Away kits for 09/10 season
  • 09/10 Season kit supplier

as well as some of the internal Society governance and club management issues.

Firefighting leads to disengagement

The voting process is far from smooth: there’s a constant balancing act between transparency and privacy, between “authority figures” recommending an option or a free vote.

There are also situations where the members approval is sought in order to authorise a Club officer to undertake an activity,  usually a forgone conclusion because we don’t have much choice in the short term but to accept the recommendation.  These kinds of votes cause the most division and the Board of MyFC really should have learned long ago that long term planning was needed as well as the short-term fire fighting.

MyFootballClub's Working Groups process

MyFootballClub's Working Groups process

Groups, working

This is where the Working Groups come in, allowing a group of ordinary members to tackle an issue, break it down into to manageable tasks, and make well reasoned recommendations to the members, with open-ended votes.  They’re still in early stages, but already we’ve seen progress from the active groups.

For example, the Financials Working Group came back with a procedure for arranging and publishing the Society and Club accounts, something that had previously been bogged down by lack of ownership and inertia.  This will add clarity to discussion and allow decisions to be made with full awareness of the implications for the Society and Club.

These are the groups that are currently in progress or being considered,  all initiated and given the go-ahead by ordinary members of the Society, and approved by the Society Board.  Links require MyFC login.

Financial WG
Aim: Strengthen the flow of financial information and prepare forecasts and draft budgets for the Club and Society (full aims)
Status: In progress, Private, Open Forum
Leader: rugbyswift
Last weekly review: 15/4/09

Marketing & Advertising WG
Aim: Focus marketing and advertising campaigns for Club and MyFC Society (full aims)
Status: In progress, Group Area, Original thread
Leader: roca
First weekly review: due 27th April

Communications WG
Aims: Make recommendations to improve communications between members, Board, Club and general public (full aims)
Status: Awaiting Greenlight Vote, Forum Discussion

Surveys WG
Aims: Facilitiate surveys to members on behalf of Society and WGs
Status: Forum Discussion

Live Streaming WG
Aims: Investigate options for providing cost-effective live streaming of TV footage to overseas members
Status: Forum Discussion

Calendar & Planning WG
Aims: Establish timelines for activity leading up to important deadlines and improve Calendar functionality
Status:
Forum Discussion

Get stuck in!

Weekly reports allow the wider membership to keep a casual eye on the situation, meaning they can get on with working on areas that interest them.  Other members may stick to discussions or just engaging in casual chat.  Nothing wrong with this, as it still contributes to the fabric of the Society.  Governance and communication are likely to be ongoing issues: the need to keep all types of member involved and informed.

This framework can take MyFootballClub from an unfocused mob to a more constructive, forward looking organisation.  Providing the Society’s Board, the Website Operator and the Club management cooperate with the recommendations of the members, finally MyFootballClub can get to grips with the fundamental problems and start owning Ebbsfleet United.

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About loidon

Technical support in an IT-centric academic department. Jack of all trades, master of none. Able to bluff on most subjects!

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