Crowdsourcing: the ping pong approach
I keep moaning about how MyFootballClub doesn’t always engage the principle of Wisdom of Crowds, but I neglected to mention this year’s kit manufacturer vote. It’s a process I think we should have been shouting from the rooftops.
Similar to how Dave Pollard described in this post from 2004, the crowd (members) were employed to provide opinion and make the final choice, with the experts (The CEO and Chairman) using this information when going through the confidential tenders, but presenting an impartial summary back to the members. This was a completely different approach than the previous season’s decision.
08/09 Nike Vote
In March 2008, shortly after taking over Ebbsfleet, we were approached by Nike, who offered to run our club shop, provide a wide selection of merchandise and all kinds of goodies, including the chance to choose a kit design. It was a take it or leave it vote.
Like the spotty geek invited to the prom by the Netball captain, we jumped at the chance, though almost 10% of those that voted didn’t want it: Nike were too big, unethical, and that we were being pressure into making the decision.
In the end the chosen kit designs meant that a 3rd kit was required later in the season, because of colour clashes. Nobody at the club or Society saw coming, but one might expect Nike would be aware of that kind of problem. At the end of the season, there were piles of unsold shirts that the club still had to pay for, despite the promise of levels stock based on demand.
Oh, and the no penalty opt-out clause were told about – we’d “misinterpreted” this (and that’s not necessarily Nike’s fault, I hasten to add).
09/10 Ebbsfleet Kit Manufacturer process
As the time for exploring the contract approached, the Board and CEO drew up criteria list and asked individual members to rank them. These included cost of kit, prestige of manufacturer, local supplier, variety of additional merchandise amongst others.
When three suppliers tendered for the contract, the CEO and Chairman used their judgement to give a point score for each criteria for each company. There was a clear distinction between the three, with some companies scoring high on some criteria but low on others.
The results and a summary of the reasons for the point score were given to members. The terms of each deal were confidential, but the companies agreed to demonstrate the expected profit to the Club at varying levels of merchandise sales. The members were allowed to make their choice from the three (we chose Vandanel).
As far as I know, this was the first time a commercial decision has been made in such an open way from start to finish, passing back and forth between non-expert crowd and experts at the club. We should try to do more business this way.