Clubs Are Too Often Hothouses For Fragile Egos
Clubs are always a fertile field for social anthropologists. In the span of a couple hundred people who have developed over time a sense of community you can observe whether your theories regarding human behavior are sound. Clubs have bylaws, mores and just about all the trappings of wider society, all centered around a singularly interesting sport or hobby shared by its members. And like the wider world there are startling examples of why government at the local, state and national levels are such dysfunctional entities. It centers around the admittedly fragile egos of its leaders.
Fortunately it is sometimes easy to justify that leaders be replaced in favor of allowing someone else to take the reins because “that is the way it has always been done”. But sometimes the lesser offices where the daily grind actually takes place are more difficult to fill. Nobody likes being the membership secretary or the sponsor liaison or saddled with the responsibility of getting speakers for each month’s club meeting. Even the refreshment secretary is a thankless job at times. Everyone wants to dive into the goodies at the meeting but few have the time to do the baking.
I wonder sometimes why the picnic chairperson even volunteers. It is a bigger operation than most that a club puts on and thus has a greater chance of requiring that volunteers step forward. But no club would be successful if it were not for the true “adults” that take it upon themselves to fill these less than glamorous positions. They do so without benefit of pay all while having their efforts be vulnerable to sniping from those who can’t be bothered to help.
So it goes without saying that any club should always cherish those who “stand in the gap” to do the heavy lifting.
But there are times when things don’t work well. These are times which require everyone to pitch in and find a real solution. Something having to do with computers is a good example. The membership database or the event calendar for a club almost always requires someone with a specialized knowledge of computer usage. Sometimes you inherit a piece of software that has been used for time out of mind to piece together your membership list or your club newsletter.
If the newsletter editor for the club retires and moves to Florida, suddenly someone else has to step in and keep things going. That could mean for them learning to adapt to a process that was developed in support of a particular piece of software from a defunct vendor that will only run on a computer with an entirely different operating system. Ouch!
Some Ground Rules
- Everything that a club does has to be in service of its membership. Nothing should be off-limits in terms of find a way past a problem.
- Stop gap measures are both silly and ineffective when it can be demonstrated that a solution already exists. The notion that we have always done it this way, should never apply to a problem having to do with computer software.
- Solutions to problems should be ranked in terms of their cost-benefit ratio. If something is produced by a large enough company to guarantee its continued existence that should outweigh its cost.
- Leave your egos at the door when trying to find a solution. Thinking outside the box is what you are there for. Just imagine how much better national politics could be if everyone understood the art of compromise and drew no lines in the sand.
Take A Lesson From The Failures of Local Government
Everyone hates a lawyer whose bread and butter are lawsuits. But both these lawyers and their clients serve a very valuable service to any community. Why?
Because City Hall never really likes to fix things. If a parent complains that their street is in need of a stop sign the installation might get deferred. But let an accident occur with injuries and the streets and sanitation crew will be out there adding that sign the morning in anticipation of a lawsuit.
The same applies to faulty sidewalks in big cities. You can attempt to notify the city of a giant hole in the walkway. Perhaps after a few minutes on the phone you get a low level employee (whose coffee break has obviously interrupted) to take down the pertinent facts. That call will probably never be followed up with a call from the responsible city service. But taking photos of the sidewalk and sending them into the mayors office along with a hint of a possible lawsuit and poof! Workmen are out the next day fixing what should have been repaired months ago.
If you have a computer problem with your clubs calendar or website. Fix it! Don’t disseminate arcane instructions to the membership on how to ensure that your efforts really have worked. No computer software should ever require that level of user involvement. If I were using a word processor which sometimes required that after attempting to save a document I turn off my computer, reboot it and then check again to make certain the document was saved, I would jettison the software. Pure and simple.
Don’t frustrate your membership. Work to ensure that they can help support the club’s mission. That way every one wins!