This is the Judo blog of Lance Wicks. In this blog I cover mainly Judo and related topics. My Personal blog is over at where I cover more geeky topics. Please do leave comments on what you read or use the Contact Me form to send me an email with your thoughts and ideas.

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University of Bath, Bsc Block 3, Day 3.  

Well, today was a funny sort of day, I only had a single lecture. Well I received one and delivered one. So I spent some time working on my research project and stressing about it mainly. I am finding that I am rather out of sorts, not quite into the flow of things yet. I am not surprised as I have been in a bit of a “funk” and struggling for a few months to get into the academic work I have had to do. I am sure (or at least hoping) that being here clears the cobwebs out. We shall see.

Anyway, my lecture, then I shall comment on Scott McCarthy's (CEO of the BJA) lecture.

My lecture was to the new first year FdSc students, a “Introduction to Technology”, basically the lecture was about the technology that will help them through the FdSc. I had them listen to me talk about stuff, then do a practical where they had to enter some data in to excel and then wrote something in word.

It was quite enjoyable to share some of the stuff I learned from when I did the FdSc. I am hoping it went down well. I am in fact going to hold a little informal workshop for them tomorrow after the final lecture. Probably help them install Zotero and show them how it works in a practical situation.

And now ladies and gentlemen... Scott McCarthy.

Scott's lecture was on “Relationship Marketing in Sport”. As the CEO of the British Judo Association (BJA), I was looking forward to it. I am quite a critic of much of what the BJA does, specifically their poor use of the internet.

So when part way through the lecture Scott started bringing up the BJAs plans for a Facebook page/group and the “amazing” spam engine they have spent way too much on, on their great website, I was... well... you can guess.

Scott showed a mockup of a BJA facebook page, which someone (presumably paid) had been working on. I wonder why he didn't just use the existing (over 12 months old) BJA facebook group at ... amp;ref=ts

If I had to sum up what I saw, I would say that the over-arching feeling I had was that the BJA are completely naïve in web matters and are being led down the garden path by whomever they are getting their web advice/services from. They paid for a email mailing list system, come on! It's a system slightly more fancy than that which you can get for zero, but only slightly. There are open source projects that are well established they could/should have used.

Also, should I mention to the information commissioner that they are sending un-solicited emails? Should I also mention that the CEO happily showed us screenshots from the email software, including pages of peoples email addresses. Bad.. very BAD! Much like the recent flamewar I caused on the BJA forum about a member of staff confirming a users identity. It is indicative of how little they understand the web, let alone the legal ramifications of not understanding it.

I shall back away from the subject for a moment, it is possibly unfair to paint Scott with the same brush as I would use for the rest of the BJA based on my negative experiences. So let me go back to my notes from the lecture.

Scott spoke a lot of the “challenges” that they faced, specifically in achieving a goal they have set to be one of the top 5 nations in the world by 2013. Not sure who decided that one, but it makes 4 medals in 2012 look like a really sensible goal. They have another goal to increase adult participation by what amounted to about 32 adults per club in the BJA. Yet he was unable to answer any questions about the BJA strategy to actual have clubs capable of delivering that. HUH?

He also mentioned how according to a survey only 25% of those doing Judo were doing it via the BJA. But again there was not strategy/plan/intervention to tackle that challenge.

Scott spoke about Judo meeting fitness goals of some research they had seen and yet he had not seen the NICE guidance on physical activity. But hey, it is only the opinion of the government, it is only the most health service in this countries voice. Why would you need as a national governing body trying to use fitness as a selling point need to know about the view that the UK government will be applying? Go figure...

I questioned Scott about why in his slides the “Club” was typically around the middle on the lists of most important, looking at my notes here I noted the following:

6th License holders
7th Clubs
9th Players
10th Volunteers
12th Parents

When I asked him about this he said the lists were not in a priority order, but we all know how these things work, the important things are at the top right? What was at the top was almost always

The Board and The Staff

Which is kinda telling I thought.

My big issue with what Scott had to show us in his numerous slides was that they need and want to deliver more Judo, they want more licenses sold. More participation, more sales, more performance. All good stuff.
Given that the BJA does not have a production facility, in other words they as an organisation can not deliver Judo, it was disturbing that the clubs and the club members were not high on the BJA's priorities IMHO. I would have expected Scott to have spoken extensively about how important the clubs are, about how the coaches are the most valuable asset the BJA has and that they need to woo and support them.

I was a bit shocked at how much periphery rubbish was in the slides and talk. Given the state of the world and Judo in the UK, I would have hoped that the big boss would have been focussed on helping the clubs. But no, he was excited about using Facebook (which is slow). He was excited about the merchandising, yet the BJA is notoriously expensive for mats or suits. You can get everything the BJA offer cheaper by going elsewhere, be it mats, Judogi or insurance. It is a distraction that presumably makes a small profit, but at the detriment of the reputation and relationship the BJA has with the clubs. The perception is that the BJA is trying to profit off the clubs and off the members. Which is cool and fine, maybe, but at least be good value.

Here is the thing, the BJA wants Growth, Retention and Elite (or sustain, grow & excel). This things are all outside of what the BJA can deliver within the business. They rely on the clubs for delivery and progress of these goals. So their customer is the clubs, they need to serve the clubs and make the clubs feel like the BJA is helping them. But I hear over and over that the clubs feel that the BJA increases their workload, that they don't get friendly, enthusiastic help from the BJA. That the BJA is more expensive than the alternatives. That they are just trying to make money.

I feel the need also to comment on the audience Scott was speaking to. This is a room full of level 4 coaches, the highest qualified coaches in Scott's country. People doing great work, trying to deliver the goals that the BJA have, yet you'd be hard pressed to find someone who had a great opinion of the BJA and what they were doing and their engagement with their clubs (and them).

Now my issue with all this is that the BJA is a great institution. The BJA is a force for good, well at least on the grand scheme of things. Scott McCarthy is trying to do good things, the staff are wanting I am sure to do good stuff. But they have been failing and the talk he gave today did nothing to change my view that they have got it wrong and will continue to get it wrong.

I am no MBA, I am just a Judoka with a platform to criticise. I am also a Judoka with a unique perspective, despite what some think, I have no cross to bear, also I am not “biting the hand that feeds me” as the BJA does not feed me. In fact I have virtually nothing to do with the BJA. I buy a license from time to time, I have nothing to gain from the BJA succeeding or failing.

So here is my non-MBA view.
The BJA has lost it's way. Somehow, somewhere they have forgotten that the clubs are their customers and that they are a service organisation. They forgotten somewhere that they need to provide a compelling offer to the British Judo community. They need to help the clubs, help those that run the clubs; the coaches.

Forget about all the silly periphery, forget about growing the organisations staff to 80, focus on what the member clubs need on a day to day, week on week basis. Then deliver it in the best way possible. If clubs need to get Judogi, the BJA needs to use it's size to bulk procure suits and be able to sell them to clubs cheaper than the clubs can buy them elsewhere. If a club needs mats, they should be cheaper from the BJA. If a club needs a grant, the BJA should have have experts at the ready to leap to your aid. If you want to get more members, the BJA should be helping you do that. The BJA website should be a tool to promote the clubs and help them get new members. If clubs are looking to build a dojo, the BJA should have experts ready and capable of assisting with planning permissions, rent negotiations, rates exemptions etc. If you call the BJA asking about setting up a club they should be biting off your hand to help. The BJA should be more enthusiastic about your club than you.

But that sure as heck ain't the way the coaches I talk to feel about it, and it sure as heck was not the message be delivered to a room full of coaches by the CEO of the BJA.

Surely he should have at least been selling that vision to us a room full of Judo coaches.

You remember that scene in the film Jerry McGuire when Tom Cruise sells himself to Cuba Gooding right? That bit about him not resting until he saw Cuba wearing shoes with his name on, wearing a t-shirt with him on it drinking a can of coke with his face on it.

Apply that to club coaches and the CEO should have been selling that story, that he would not rest until the BJA was carrying us to our dojo in a rickshaw pulled by the BJA, to a Dojo built by the BJA, so we could teach a class of students found by the BJA on mats provided by the BJA, in Judogi provided by the BJA. The BJA would do the paperwork, handle the money, do everything so that we the coaches could do what we want to do... coach Judo.

But sadly, that was not the vision we were shown. :-(

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