A Call for Wisdom and Vision

17 November 2014

The recent decision by the Orlando Bridge Center Board to not renew a director's contract has created much discord among the players. This decision has also created a heightened awareness by even a greater number of players of the way the Club has been managed for many years. Highly questionable practices exist that have many of us believing it is time for a change. This storm has been brewing for a long time. Central among the issues are circumstances that include a Board made up of several Directors that are allowed to hire and fire themselves and an environment where the players that financially support the Club have no say or feedback as to how the Club is managed.

The current dysfunction is NOT THE FAULT OF THE BOARD. The true problem seems to stem from the way the club has not evolved from its original establishment. What needs to be done is to create a new environment that meets the needs of a 21st century bridge club and can evolve over time as needs change.

A common practice among organizations large and small, profit and non-profit, is to create a task force to perform a "needs analysis", resulting in a framework for how the organization would be managed in the future. The task force is led by a facilitator whose function is to prompt the rest of the task force to create a long range plan. This person keeps the group on task and moves the group through as equal participation process that results with consensus as to what action plans are needed to move forward. The task force would not only include an active, non-director player in the Club to act as the facilitator, but also several other members of the bridge community representing both playing rooms with various skills and backgrounds as well as Board and Bond Holder representation.

Steps of the planning process would include:
    A. Defining the mission of the club
    B. Establishing objectives to be accomplished by the task force
    C. Identifying obstacles that stand in the way of achieving these objectives
    D. Exploring possible solutions by:
            1) Brainstorming by the group
            2) Polling the bridge community on their wants/ideas
            3) Surveying the "Best of Breed" bridge clubs around the country
                    and adopting the best practices/ideas identified that would benefit
                    our Club. Areas to explore could include:
                        - assigning a true club manager
                        - establishing formal mentorship programs
                        - offering more education for all levels of play
                        - creating fundraising opportunities
                        - initiating a fee structure that allows for members and non-members
                        - holding regular election of Board members by the general bridge community
                        - exploring the idea of prohibiting the director from also playing
                               to assure calls are made promptly, slow play is monitored, and
                               boards are passed in a timely manner
    E  Developing prioritized long range plan for the Club
    F. Creating an action plan that lists steps with assigned responsibilities
        and dates to achieve desired objectives. Allowance should be made
        for periodic updates and improvements in the future. No plan should
        be static, but rather fluid.

To take no action is not acceptable. Current issues need to be addressed if we want to remain a viable club. At the moment, no one is winning. Establishing accountability and transparency is the key. Now is the time for wisdom and vision.

Suzy O'Connor


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