• Researching a new bar

    20141106_190751What a difference a week makes and how cold it is out there now. After food tonight to headed to a new Wine bar called Petrus. Small and cosy and tonight very quiet. I had decided to choose the one night the chef was off so wine it was and a good taste. In the end they managed to rattle up some cheesy chip (the healthy type of course) and another glass to wash it down. Definitely a place to head back to on a Friday evening when they have live music.

    The place was very nice and worth the visit. Where they do need to improve is their website, lets the place down and doesn’t do it justice or sell its20141106_204022elf.

    Then out for a wander and stopped of at a favourite place, Abbeygate cafe. Been there many times and always good place to go with plenty of options for food and drink. Had a coffee but also had to force myself to try out the new Mocha cake which the chef had cooked. He needed some feedback on the quality so no choice in reality and well worth it and gave it 9/10 :)

    Only snag is I knew shouldn’t have had that cake and needed a long walk to get rid of it.

     

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  • SSE in need of help…

    So after the Snowsport England AGM yesterday I thought I would jot down a couple of suggestions to help them make the necessary early changes to the committees, yeah I know I’m really helpful at times :). It’s nothing new and things I have suggested in the past and several other people have suggested the same things. Will there be change before the recommendations are approved at the next couple of board meetings? You would like to think so and that they would take the opportunity to be pro-active and accept the changes they need to make. My gut feeling though is that certain people will continue to cling onto power and come up with feeble excuses for not changing, or they will be seen to do something but in reality keep the people and just juggle things around.

    The main Alpine committee is ASC or ARC (not really sure what it is called now). Alpine Snowsports Committee or Alpine Race Committee, should be the latter so we’ll go for that. ARC has a sub committee called Race Organisation Technical Panel (ROTP). It is very difficult to find the terms of reference of the committees but apparently they do exist somewhere. One of the first things they need to do is define what is the purpose of ARC and its own terms of reference. Is it there to just look after the top end racing, encourage grass roots, work with schools, provide guidance on rules, training, fund raising, organising of the top end races, developing the sport, trying new ideas, more or less? The way they work today is very much along the lines of talking shops with very little actually happening.

    Some of the problems and challenges we have today with the committees are;

    – unclear terms of reference
    – incorrect people on the committees
    – too many people with self interests and not focusing on the bigger picture
    – lack of focus and clear direction
    – lack of leadership
    – lack of ownership and responsibility
    – very little transparency and accountability
    – communication. Doesn’t exist and needs to improve

    What is important to remember are that like most committees they are made up of some very good people and it is the dead wood which needs removing and replacing. What we need is to hope that the changes are far reaching and not just cosmetic. Cosmetic is easy real change now needs to come from radical changes to the committees, structure and people otherwise the status quo will remain. So just a few things that can be done quickly and effectively;

    – disbanded ROTP
    – keep the existing ARC chair and allow him to have the authority and autonomy to make the necessary changes, role will now be accountable to the SSE board
    – agree terms of reference for ARC
    – advertise the roles on the newly formed ARC and allow people time to apply
    – ARC should create sub-committees as and when required for a short period and these sub-committees report back to ARC and have to deliver. An example of this is the annual calendar two people for four months cover the initial work, training could have a couple of people researching ways to improve participation and report back
    – the above will give much better control over costs and delivery. The talking shops should reduce and people become more focused.
    – encourage better working practices with other clubs and regions and this will go some way to removing the ‘them and us’ attitudes seen by so many people across the sport. This will also help remove the arrogance that exists in some of the same people. Improve the collaboration and other ideas will flow.

    Just a few small thoughts and nothing rocket science in this and should be easy to do. Most people are afraid of change and failure. Too many are afraid to try changes in case they fail so progress is slow. These sort of problems are not unique to SSE and you see them every day in the real world of business. Change has to be driven forward and needs true ownership.

    Anyway let’s see what happens over the coming month. If nothing or the same people just moved around then may more people will become disillusioned and that will be bad for the sport. There is an opportunity here now for people to make encourage true change.

     

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  • Hot Numbers …

    20141031_215934If you are in Cambridge any time soon and especially in the evening then head over to Hot Numbers cafe. 20141031_211921 (1)

    Excellent little place which serves brilliant tasting coffee in a comfortable environment. Many nights there is music playing and different styles of Jazz which gives the place a very good atmosphere. They also have some very tasty cakes to keep you going :).

    Ideal if you want to plug in and charge as there are plenty of sockets around. Been there twice now and both times just as good with an interesting mix of people. The other night they have an excellent caramel shortbread, naughty but nice :) oh the sacrifices you have to make in the name of research.

    It is off the beaten track a little but well worth the walk over to it. Plenty of other cafes in Cambridge but not many like this.

    Marks out of ten, 9/10 I think :)

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  • Snowsport England AGM

    Snowsport England AGM today up at Loughborough and headed up there this morning. Not sure how the day was going to pan out but one thing for sure is that it would not be quiet. There has been a Governance review taking place for over 18 months now and it has long been overdue. The board brought in someone from outside the skiing community to conduct the review and it has looked at the whole setup and structure of the sport in England.

    Any review that takes place will come up with recommendations that will always create further discussion both good and bad. There is so much wrong with the corporate structure and the committees that getting everything right straight away is impossible. It has been clear over the past few weeks that some people have several reservations about the proposals and were going to vote against the changes. What has been interesting about objections is that I haven’t any suggestions for improvement from these people, just ‘this is wrong because of x,y,z…’.

    So in attendance today was most of the SSE board and several members from Snowsports across England. For such an important AGM I was surprised at how few were there, probably 30-35 people, plus the legal representative and someone from the insurance company Endsleigh. Several proxy votes had already been cast but clubs and other members but it still looked pretty close. There was a little excitement and confusion at the start of proceedings as we got into the events in the right legal order but it soon passed into a healthy discussion about the changes. The first proposal to change the names from English Ski Council to Snowsport England was easy enough. The next resolution was somewhat more challenging and generated the greatest discussion, the changes to the Articles of Association.

    The biggest concerns here were the changes proposed for clubs and regions. Clubs voting themselves out of a vote for the future and allowing one member one vote. This makes sense and will give SSE what it wants regarding numbers and what it has to deliver to Sport England, but it still does not address some of the concerns raised about clubs and the impact on them. In reality clubs are needed still and how the interaction works in the future is going to be interesting. SSE will eventually communicate directly with members and that is fine, but what is a concern is how this communication will work with the clubs and the regions for that matter.

    Personally the biggest impact is the impact on the region. I can see what they want to do for the future and many of the changes are directed at those regions that do not do anything or very little. However the discussions that have taken place to date give the impression that there will be an impact on the likes of ERSA, SRSA and LSERSA who are the very active regions today. It is the practicalities on the ground that concern me more than anything. No problem changing if we have to and it makes sense but I want to know more. This was discussed at length and what is clear is that there needs to be much more discussion about the detail in the coming months and this was promised. No problem being more accountable to SSE and there are certainly some areas we need to be, such as the regional grant, but at the same time we already struggle with time and anything that introduces much more administrative overhead will not be welcome. Certainly one to watch in the next twelve months.

    Most of the noise came from the northern clubs / regions and while they raised several concerns I heard very few suggestions for improvements! All very well objecting to the changes but what else should SSE do?

    One bit of feedback which was quite interesting is that SSE is looking for more board directors and they have been advertising. They have had a lot of responses but virtually nothing from Snowsport related people, which they are obviously disappointed about. Not sure where they have advertised as this was the first time I have heard about it! Some aspects of SSE communication has improved over the past few months but this is still something that must have missed that improved process. I had thought about suggesting to the Northern guys that one of them should join the board to ensure the changes are progressed in a satisfactory way.

    The terms of references are being drafted for board review for the five key committees and hopefully they should be approved soon. At the moment we have major problems with ASC and ROTP and they are not accountable, transparent and deliver very little. For a long time I and others have been saying that ROTP should be disbanded and ASC the main committee which initiates sub-committees as and when something is needed and for a short period of time. I asked how soon we can see changes and next weekend there is an ASC meeting and in theory ROTP will be disbanded then. All very well but I would like to see exactly what happens as we do not want the same people just moving around. I can see this one rumbling on for some time to come.

    One thing I would like to do is thank Jeremy Eaton and his team for the work on this over the last few months. In general it was good to get the changes progressed and over the next year or two we should see positive change come but we do need to ensure some of the personnel are changed at the same time to ensure progression is made. SSE has to change to keep up with everything else how it gets there is going to be interesting.

     

     

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