February 20th 2009 and MyFootballClub is left with just under 10,000 live members, with 22,000 having decided the venture wasn’t worth staying involved with for whatever reason. Communications are still a problem, both in terms of the infrastructure we use to disseminate information, but also there’s great confusion about who does what.
We are currently holding another Board election, this time an interim election to fill the 5 missing board members. That’s right, of the 7 members we elected last year to drive and monitor the strategy of the Society, only 1 remains, with 1 more having being coopted a couple of months back to fulfill legal requirements. Bizarrely, one of the candidates is someone who resigned in December.
There are still a lot of passive members, but on the positive side, there seems to be a lot more willingness to challenge each other on issues we disagree with. This almost always descended into personal argument, but perhaps we’re recognising the challenge we face to turn the organisation round and keep the club going.
The biggest plus point was the implementation of a Working Group structure, which I steered through, mindful of the need for a clear process and understanding of Roles and Division of labour that I picked up from Activity Theory. This framework should allow us break down the many problems that the Society needs to deal with into manageable chunks, and give a mandate for small teams of members to go off and do the work, presenting their final findings to the wider membership for a decision. David Pollard’s post on the appropriate use of Crowds and Experts in the decision-making process was a good reference point in this.
So yes, there are still problems, but it was too interesting not to stay involved.
MyFootballClub now have a WordPress blog integrated into the site so that the Society Board and the CEO and Chairman of the football club can communicate regularly to members in one place. Something I’ve been going on at them to do for ages. I’ve also got them to use twitter for updates, though people are still getting used to it (both the society board and the guys who maintain the site!).
I’m still trying to get them to be more open about their team selection process and getting members to think carefully about it. There’s a big friendly match against Charlton on the 12th July where we’ll be choosing the team, but I think the “system” they’re using is a severe mangling of Wisdom of Crowds principles.
This is very dangerous: if the process has the effect of sanctioning of the Coach’s selection, members will lose faith that their opinion counts for anything, not bother taking part, and thus Pick The Team gets dropped. This was one of the core principles of MyFC and though it’s not critical for every member, there are many that would that would not renew next February if it was dropped. If their mechanism doesn’t correctly aggregate the selections it risks fielding an unsuitable lineup, again suggesting it should be dropped.
Now if they opened up their mechanism, even if only to a select group of statistics geeks, they could check that it produced a “good” average lineup. The solution I proposed had some problems when you had a split verdict (unlikely scenarios but couldn’t be ignored), but in discussion with others I’ve found other ways that bring a diverse set of selections closer to an single “average” lineup. And from that, it’s really not hard to accept the Coach overiding some positions, as long as he tells us afterwards why this was done and therefore improve the information we have for next time. And of course if he overrules us and gets it wrong, perhaps he’ll learn something.
It’s not that hard, is it?