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Re: ECF AGM 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:33 am
by Hok Yin Stephen Chiu
Delegate Report (and Personal Thoughts) to Coventry and District

Item 1) Appointment of Chairman, 2) Minute's Silence to colleagues passed away, 3) Notices: Passed through without major issues, and not directly relevent to CDCL.

Item 4) Approval of Last Meeting Minutes: Only grammar issues.

Item 5) Matters arising from the agenda:

I asked about the cost of jackets for members of the Open and Women Olympiad Teams (following a earlier discussion of the jackets), roughly £135 per jacket.

I asked who were the suppliers, the International Director, Malcolm Pein, said he would get back to me. (Personal thoughts, £135 seems a bit much.. perhaps I could offer to help in future)

Item 6) Reports:
  • 6(a) Board of Director's Report - seemed fine.
  • 6(b) Chair of Governance Committee - seemed fine.
  • 6(c) Chair of Finance Committee - some delegates commented it was published late.
  • General comments: Some delegates raised accountability concerns over ECF overspending.
Item 7) Elections and Appointments (Delayed as Tim had gearbox/driving issues)
  • President: Dominic Lawson (Comment: Board Members said he put a lot of work in the Shreyas Royal situation)
  • Chief Executive: Mike Truran (Comment: I know he runs the 4NCL well)
  • Junior Chess Director: Alex Holowcak (Comment: my experience of Alex was a good Home Director, and runs a lot of Junior events)
  • Womens Chess Director: Chris Fegan (Comment: I received very favourable support for Chris from members of the University of Warwick, no other thoughts from other clubs)
  • Home Chess: Adrian Elwin (Comment: I received some positive comments from University of Warwick members who recommended Adrian, no other thoughts from other clubs; I also considered Tim Wall's candidacy positively, given his and I's past agreement on the benefits of merging silver and bronze membership; ultimately, I was swayed to vote Adrian, as he demonstrated the most experience, and grasp of the job brief)
  • Council Chair: Mike Gunn (Comment: voted for)
  • FIDE Delegate: Malcolm Pein (Comment: voted for)
  • Governance Committee Chair: Robert Stein (Comment: voted for)
  • Finance Committe Chair: Ian Reynolds (Comment: voted for)
  • Auditor: Goatcher Chandler Audit Ltd. (Comment: voted for)
Item 8) Awards: generally trivial matters. Board proposed an award to the Chair of Hull and District Chess League for help and volunteers for the British Championships - President Award to Services to Chess.

Item 9) Special Motion to change articles: Nothing too important - only that the ECF Office should be given 2 full working days to calculate the delegate votes.

Item 10) Approve date of Finance Council: 27 April 2019 (Approved)

Item 11)
Strategy

The Delegate for Croydon (I believe) suggested that the strategy should have more clear descriptions of the current situation, i.e. where we are, where want to get to, and how.

I agreed. Obviously I could not start explaining how Lean organisations do things, the Board strategy clearly contains a number of good ideas, however, a bit more clarity could be provided by simply presenting the information better, and allow metrics and timescales to be incorporated better.

A3 Planning is something that the ECF could consider when presenting their strategy for each directorate, which makes it easier for metrics and timescales to be monitored.

(The idea was devised as a way of focussing managers and workers alike to focus and keep track for their objectives/metrics/time limits: http://www.leansixsigmagroup.co.uk/a3-report/)

In the near-future, I shall forward useful chess-related examples of A3 plans to the new Development Officer to help professionise the ECF, so the ECF may take small steps towards adopting best practices found in industry, and help focus on developing achievable KPIs.

Item 12/13) Finance


The Delegate for Stockport (I believe) asked why the ECF seems to focus on the £100,000 reserves; answer from the Board: it is a useful backstop, to prevent any bankrupcy concerns.

Then the big topic on the proposals to raise Bronze Membership by 25% to £20, Silver Membership by 28% to £30, and Gold Membership by 20% to £41, from 2018 to 2020, and a request for 18.5k from the Chess Trust, totalling ~£45,000.

Specifically from Membership fees, the increase would increase the budget for 2018-19 for an extra:
  • +£5,000 to Women's Chess
  • +£12,000 to Office Support
  • +£9,000 to International Chess
For reference, 2017-18 Budget and Forecast Spending for the three areas:
  • Office Staff Budget: £59,000; Office Staff Forecast: £59,172
  • International Budget: £32,500; International Forecast: £63,629 [overspend?]
  • Women's Budget: £5,000; Women's Forecast: £1,868
  • (Figures accurate as of 14/10/2018 C29.12 Revised ECF Budget)
The Delegate for Lancaster and Morecambe (I believe) pointed out that it was inappropriate to have a vote to pass the budget at this meeting - given the short notice and lateness that delegates were provided with the proposals.

The Delegate for Stockport (I believe) pointed out that it effectively tied the hands of the next Finance Council - to be pressured and be forced to approved the budget 2018-19.

As with most things in the ECF, most people from directors, officers to grassroot League organiser, we volunteer. Unlike Russia, the ECF are not fortunate enough to received a grant from the Government, so I was not comfortable with expecting members to foot the bill for this vast international spending. I think, as long as the Olympaid team is fully covered expenses-wise (food, travel, branded clothing, etc) that should be good, however, the current international spending looks large for such a small number of individuals. Here I did exchange disagreement with Malcolm Pein.

The next issue that I took issue with was the Development Manager idea.. In prior discussion with other delegates on the ECForum, I took issue with the funding structure of the role, by linking individual bonuses to a non-deterministic performance was very unwise. The bonus payments will formally mis-attribute credit of future membership growth, to one individual, instead of the collective achievement of the Board and other officers. This type of idea would be thrown out at conception in any other organisation.

Unfortunately, when I pointed out that 'this type of idea would be thrown out in any other organisation', Malcolm Pein protested that some sports have 6 Development Officers at the national level! Sadly, my point about the flawed funding and bonus was lost (probably unintentionally by Malcolm)..

After these exchanges, one of my friends jest that I probably will never get to arbit at the London Chess Classic - we shall see!

The Delegate for Stockport proposed an amendment to removed the proposed membership fee increases. I was privately worried, as we should have coordinated and proposed a reduction of proposed expenditure increases, before a reduction of membership fee increases, because some delegates would have been privately concerned that keeping the proposed expenditure increase without the membership fee increases would be contradictory, and proceed to reject the amendment. Alas, the amendment to remove the membership fee increases was rejected; I felt this oversight/unfortunate timing, made it inevitable that Council ended up voting 160-103 supporting the fee increases.

In the interlude between the amendment vote, and final vote, I endeveoured to ask the Delegates for Stockport, and Croydon whether we should table an amendment to reduce expenditure to cover only the increase for Women's Chess and Office Support only, allow Delegates more time to go back to their Leagues/Congresses to consult on the International Budget, which was unveiled at short notice onto us. The Delegate for Croydon was more keen capping the International Budget at its current levels, however the Chair said that was not an option. By the point, it was too late to push for another amendment.

Given I received 15 responses from the League, with only one response backing the proposed level of expenditure, unless the situation changes, I shall endeavour to work with other delegates before the April meeting to ensure the budget will have sufficient limits for the near-future, so that members don't have to continuly experience 25% fee rises every 2 years.

Outcome: This will be the future fees, unless we change them at the April Finance Council https://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-cont ... -rates.pdf

In subsequent discussion post-meeting with fellow delegates (I believe with the Delegate for London), I discussed the former proposal to merge Bronze and Silver membership to a Standard Membership of £20 (instead of £16 for Bronze and £23.50 for Silver) during last Council meeting; if the merger had been agreed by delegates, the Board would not have dared to propose 2 consecutive years of membership fee increases at this meeting... Instead, Bronze Members will get £20 membership fees in 22 months time, anyway... (I do wonder if Council delegates had taken the initiative, whether it would have then be more likely to be capped for a year or two, and former Bronze members would at least get the benefits of Silver at £20)

Item 14) Yearbook

Some discussion ensured about providing an online and full colour yearbook.

I asked whether the ECF would published it on issuu.com or just a pdf which was meet with confusion! What I meant was what something like this (Louise Head's Annual Report https://issuu.com/warwickchess/docs/annual_report_2018, or The Warwick Engineer which I was Chief Editor https://issuu.com/warwickengineeringsociety). If I find out who is responsible for this digitalisation, I shall encourage him/her to utilise issuu.com!

Item 15) AOB - not any that I recall.

Re: ECF AGM 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:32 am
by Roger de Coverly
NickFaulks wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:30 am
can really grasp the depth of multi-layered corruption in Makro's 2018 campaign.
How did it compare with the 2006, 2010 and 2014 campaigns, in all of which the ECF was "on the other side"?

Re: ECF AGM 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:35 am
by Michael Farthing
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 12:22 am
It's disappointing that membership income is now being used to fund the international teams; we should send the strongest possible team and meet the fees of professional players but it's very hard to justify that as a reason for financing the ECF (I have to defend the ECF in a part of the country still hostile to it). That said, hopefully Malcolm is still committed to finding sponsorship and with the FIDE elections now over he may have more time to devote to it.
This is not the case.
This year such spending is coming from reserves.

Next year's membership fees will be decided by the Finance Council in April. The motion yesterday has no authority to raise membership fees. This was conceded by the Board whose view was that it was an indication of Council's intent. My concern is that it might be <edit> that Council would feel unwonted pressure in</edit> eventually making the decision.

For those reasons I proposed an amendment that the section of the motion dealing with membership fees should be omitted from the motion. This did go to a card vote and drew significant support. Sadly not enough!

[Edited to reduce the implication that might be drawn that the Board would deliberately seek to "blackmail". I do not think that and I would hope the Board know that - even the one whose dress sense is so appalling]

Re: ECF AGM 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:16 am
by Angus French
Michael Farthing wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:35 am
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 12:22 am
It's disappointing that membership income is now being used to fund the international teams; we should send the strongest possible team and meet the fees of professional players but it's very hard to justify that as a reason for financing the ECF (I have to defend the ECF in a part of the country still hostile to it). That said, hopefully Malcolm is still committed to finding sponsorship and with the FIDE elections now over he may have more time to devote to it.
This is not the case.
This year such spending is coming from reserves...
Though the reserves come, for the most part, from membership fee income, no?

Re: ECF AGM 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:25 am
by Angus French
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:21 pm
Am I right in thinking that Tim Wall is still likely to be appointed development officer?
I hope Tim is appointed as Development Officer/Manager. For his ideas on that position see here, a paper which, for some reason, was added to Council Papers very late.

Re: ECF AGM 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:41 am
by Roger de Coverly
Angus French wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:25 am
For his ideas on that position
It's a mixed bag of ideas for encouraging social and casual chess along with some suggested new formats for club and Congress chess. But where does this tie in with increasing the ECF's income by getting more people paying for the permission to play graded chess?

Re: ECF AGM 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:41 am
by benedgell
Paul Cooksey wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:31 pm
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:37 pm
Thanks to all those volunteers who gave up their time to attend the meeting today. It doesn't sound like there was much drama and I'm looking forward to hearing how the chess development strategy is going to work in real terms.
Very kind of you to say so Andrew. Nick and I had a discussion about whether he was the third man (in the curry rather than the Wall sense) but were not sure. Someone with a few more decades experience of going to council meetings than me described it as one of the more interesting ones.

I felt it was important to ask Alex about his financial plans. "Don't know" was not what I was hoping for. But I voted for him anyway like pretty much everyone except the arbiter he has annoyed.

The two card votes were on whether to approve the boards plan and its associated significant increase in membership fees. The first vote was whether to remove the approval of spending plans because it puts the Council over a barrel if it is the only option on the table at the finance meeting. The board has a significant number of votes and voted unanimously to back their own proposal as you would expect. The second on the issue itself saw votes along similar lines. My expectation is the board will win the vote by a similar margin in April.

I had a frustrating afternoon, I think you have to see Council in action to understand how clunky it is and how little what is said matters. With only five minutes each for questions on the Home Director contest, I doubt anything said made any difference. I don't see grading prizes at the British as crucial to the future of English chess myself.

Nigel's doctor is probably glad he missed Malcolm's account of the FIDE election, or his blood pressure would be at the same level as Hok's, whose questions were generally misunderstood. Malcolm did say he has met Dvorkovich and is trying to build bridges.

The low point for me was the discussion on the development plan. The Board did not want to be micromanaged, but also said they had not had time to revise the strategy document when I asked about the apparent contradiction. It does not leave much for Council to do, other making a choice on a simple back us or sack us ultimatum in April.

Malcolm did express his position on International spend. He views full strength international teams and some additional support for elite players as core spend which should be covered by membership fees, unless sponsorship is available. Angus pointed out this does directly contradict his position when elected. In fairness to Malcom, he is probably doing a better job raising sponsorship than anyone else could. But less than he hoped, and since this is the one major item that the Chess Trust cannot help within the limits of charitable aims, that does indicate likely significant membership fee rises.
The best bet is to contact candidates privately before the meeting if you want to ask something specific. For a lot of delegates who've done their job correctly then what is said on the day should be irrelevant in terms of how they cast their vote(s). I had specific instructions in advance for who to vote for, and the 2 speeches didn't change anything.

On a different note, were a few papers for the meeting posted at very late notice? I'm not overly fussed I've missed out on seeing Stephen Greeps CV (no offence, Stephen) but I wasn't aware of the Development Officer proposal paper until someone mentioned it at the meeting. Was it just me not noticing it, or was it posted late? I suspect it would've been a useful paper to read to learn about the Development Officer role.

Also, am I correct that the ECF will (should) publish the full results of card votes? I'm curious which organisations voted in favour of the budget proposals. A lot of the questions felt like council criticising, the board defending, but the hand vote suggested the board fully in favour, council roughly 50/50 split.

Re: ECF AGM 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 10:31 am
by Michael Farthing
Ben,

Publication should happen. The mechanics are quite difficult. I had originally planned (with my voting officer hat on) that the voting figures could be directly entered on to a spreadsheet (which would have also checked for obvious entry errors and generated totals). However, I lost my nerve (and time to sort it out). I realised that the cumbersomeness of finding Market Snodsbury Congress on the spreadsheet (with 160 rows) would actually be a major delaying factor. In consequence, the ballot papers have to be got back to the office for them to do this work, and Andrew, who had very kindly come to give support in the absence of Gary, who normally does this, needed to get a train back before the ballot papers were available. They are being returned by a Board member due to visit Battle shortly.

The office is particularly understaffed at present and likely to remain so maybe for the rest of the year. Consequently the details may not be speedily available. In view of this, I hope everyone can give them some consideration. If necessary I'll offer some help, but I'm on holiday next week.

On your other point, the development manager paper did go up late. I had printed it out and planned to read it in Birmingham before the meeting. Unfortunately getting the voting papers out took all my time and I confess I had not read it (and still heaven't). From what I heard it might well have changed my perspective, and probably greatly altered the letter to silver members and probably their reactions back. It does strike me that timeliness with paper publication is a major problem.

Re: ECF AGM 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 10:44 am
by Kevin Thurlow
" I took issue with the funding structure of the role, by linking individual bonuses to a non-deterministic performance was very unwise. The bonus payments will formally mis-attribute credit of future membership growth, to one individual, instead of the collective achievement of the Board and other officers. This type of idea would be thrown out at conception in any other organisation."

Surely any increase of membership will be largely due to local players and organizers?

£135 for jackets does seem a lot. Please tell us if you get a reply.

I imagine the Lean, sixsigma, and A3 stuff did cause confusion - thanks for putting the link here. I was aware of these already and have it filed under management BS - if only someone would publish a description in English... But then maybe it wouldn't look so good.

I'm very glad Hull and Distirct were recognized for their fantastic work at the British Championship.

Thanks to everyone who has posted a report on the meeting. I'm glad I don't have to go any more!

Re: ECF AGM 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:18 am
by Angus French
Roger de Coverly wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:08 pm
benedgell wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 5:34 pm
Adrian Elwin 147, Tim Wall 135, not this candidate 5.
Close then. Any impressions as to why the meeting or proxies preferred Adrian?
A few thoughts:
- I liked both candidates and would have been pleased to have either as Home Director.
- I liked what Tim said about developing chess at the grassroots level.
- Feedback from Bronze members and from conversations with others was positive for Tim but better for Adrian. Adrian has been an arbiter and organiser for some time and he seems to be well respected.
- I have the impression that Tim is quite close to Malcolm and I'm a little wary of that. I thought Adrian would be an independent voice on the Board.
- I thought Adrian as Home Director and Tim as Development Officer/Manager would be a good combination.

Re: ECF AGM 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:33 am
by David Sedgwick
benedgell wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 5:34 pm
Adrian Elwin 147, Tim Wall 135, not this candidate 5.
It scarcely matters, but I noted down 146 - 134 - 5.

My more substantive comments on the meeting will follow.

Re: ECF AGM 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 12:18 pm
by Angus French
David Sedgwick wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:33 am
benedgell wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 5:34 pm
Adrian Elwin 147, Tim Wall 135, not this candidate 5.
It scarcely matters, but I noted down 146 - 134 - 5.
I had the same figures as David.

Re: ECF AGM 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:59 pm
by Hok Yin Stephen Chiu
Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 10:44 am
" I took issue with the funding structure of the role, by linking individual bonuses to a non-deterministic performance was very unwise. The bonus payments will formally mis-attribute credit of future membership growth, to one individual, instead of the collective achievement of the Board and other officers. This type of idea would be thrown out at conception in any other organisation."

Surely any increase of membership will be largely due to local players and organizers?
Yes! I had shortened it, in the hope that directing the statement at Board Members could get them to reconsider the madness.
Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 10:44 am
£135 for jackets does seem a lot. Please tell us if you get a reply.
In due course.
Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 10:44 am
I imagine the Lean, sixsigma, and A3 stuff did cause confusion - thanks for putting the link here. I was aware of these already and have it filed under management BS - if only someone would publish a description in English... But then maybe it wouldn't look so good.
I would disagree, its usually only BS if people who don't understand it properly or done it properly advocate it, once Coventry and District League produce our widening participation strategy using A3 Planning principles - to help us communicate what we want to achieve, how, who, and when, I shall share with you in due course.

Re: ECF AGM 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 5:36 pm
by Kevin Thurlow
You're entitled to disagree! I may be prejudiced as I have experienced the brave new world of open-plan offices and NLP, which are still being used widely, despite being discredited...

Anyway, keep up the good work.

Re: ECF AGM 2018

Posted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 5:46 pm
by Michael Farthing
OK lets set a challenge:

Hok, here is the problem, "Women are under represented in chess". (Topical)

1. Give us an A3 diagram.
2. Tell us the (wo)man hours involved in doing this.