Forums: Archive: 2013-2015 USPA BOD Elections:
Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication

 


Gary73  (D 21341)

Nov 8, 2010, 6:00 PM
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Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication Can't Post

It's been suggested that I can't expect candidates to publicly volunteer positions on issues, but that some of them might respond if specific questions were to be raised. I don't understand this mentality, but what the heck, let's give it a try.

Subject 1: Communication

In an era of almost instant, almost free communication, the USPA Board of Directors manages to stay surprisingly out of touch. Many don't even read the forums here, much less contribute to them. Likewise, while pretty much every department at USPA headquarters has a dedicated e-mail address, there aren't any for board members, either as individuals or as a group. To make it even worse, board members don't even seem to communicate very well among themselves.

Here are my proposals:

1. For private but official communications, establish formal USPA e-mail addresses for all board members; something like se.director@uspa.org for the Southeast Regional Director. That way, conversations won't just disappear when a new director assumes office.

2. For public matters, establish open forums on the USPA website for discussions among members and directors. Maybe one for each region for local matters and one for national matters. Then members will get to see first-hand which directors are interested enough in our concerns to read and reply to them.

3. For internal BOD matters, establish a private forum solely for the directors (and probably the USPA Executive Director).

Okay, candidates: ready, set, discuss!


tdsnyr99  (D 27911)

Nov 8, 2010, 7:51 PM
Post #2 of 17 (1561 views)
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Re: [Gary73] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication [In reply to] Can't Post

The membership is the backbone of this organization and I think we definitely need open lines of communication between the membership and the BOD.
You can go to the USPA website and look at the current BOD. You will find that each Director has a current e-mail address, phone number and most even have fax and cell numbers. I know from my own experiences either calling or emailing a BOD member has resulted in a prompt response.

I think one of the most effective things that we could do would be to get live feeds of the BOD meetings so the membership can see what goes on there.
Open forums is not a bad idea but if you look at the current BOD some are so busy they don't even have time to start their own accounts like Facebook or here but I assure you if you email or call them they will respond to you.
I'll be honest, I don't get on here at all really but it is something that I need to work on. Keep the questions coming and I will respond.

Tom Deacon
USPA National Director Candidate

tom@proskydivingservices.com


(This post was edited by tdsnyr99 on Nov 8, 2010, 8:15 PM)


Gary73  (D 21341)

Nov 8, 2010, 8:48 PM
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Re: [tdsnyr99] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication [In reply to] Can't Post

Tom,

I'm glad that you've had such good responses from directors, but not all of us have had the same experience. More than half of the directors that I've e-mailed never answered, and it took seven months and I don't even remember how many e-mails to get my last set of jump and freefall wings processed, and it only finally happened because I copied headquarters on one of them.

The other aspect of having an address assigned at uspa.org is that it would provide continuity from one term to the next.

As for some directors not having enough time to keep abreast of issues and respond to their constituents, maybe those folks need to simplify their lives by not being directors.

WRT to live feeds on board meetings, I was going to address the issue of openness in the next thread.

BTW, thanks for responding, and for having the faith and courage to post at least a few platform items in your candidate statement.

Take care,
Gary


tdsnyr99  (D 27911)

Nov 8, 2010, 9:06 PM
Post #4 of 17 (1534 views)
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Re: [Gary73] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication [In reply to] Can't Post

Gary,
If you can't respond to the same people that put you in office, well that's just not a good way to conduct business. Open communications between USPA and the membership has to change. I won't argue that at all.
I'm definitely in favor of USPA issued e-mails if that will help the membership have easier access to their represenatives on the BOD.
I plan on posting more in the next day or so about my platform outside of what I said in my candidate statement.

Thanks Gary,

Tom Deacon
USPA National Director Candidate

tom@proskydivingservices.com


MakeItHappen

Nov 9, 2010, 2:23 PM
Post #5 of 17 (1484 views)
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Re: [Gary73] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
It's been suggested that I can't expect candidates to publicly volunteer positions on issues, but that some of them might respond if specific questions were to be raised. I don't understand this mentality, but what the heck, let's give it a try.

Subject 1: Communication

In an era of almost instant, almost free communication, the USPA Board of Directors manages to stay surprisingly out of touch. Many don't even read the forums here, much less contribute to them. Likewise, while pretty much every department at USPA headquarters has a dedicated e-mail address, there aren't any for board members, either as individuals or as a group. To make it even worse, board members don't even seem to communicate very well among themselves.

Here are my proposals:

1. For private but official communications, establish formal USPA e-mail addresses for all board members; something like se.director@uspa.org for the Southeast Regional Director. That way, conversations won't just disappear when a new director assumes office.

2. For public matters, establish open forums on the USPA website for discussions among members and directors. Maybe one for each region for local matters and one for national matters. Then members will get to see first-hand which directors are interested enough in our concerns to read and reply to them.

3. For internal BOD matters, establish a private forum solely for the directors (and probably the USPA Executive Director).

Okay, candidates: ready, set, discuss!

Great ideas.

The first year I was on the BOD I set up a private forum for BOD members.
Only a few actually signed up and participated.
The plan was to have a space for BOD members to converse and then expand it to have a place where members could provide input too.

I also set up email aliases for each committee. The BOD has a recurring problem of remembering who is on each committee and copying them all on correspondences. Only the S&T comm used the alias.

I have also set up an email alias for the FB at USPA Full Board <uspabod@skydivehard.com> and maintain it as the BOD changes.
This is still a valid email to use to contact all BOD members at once.
USPA used to have such an alias at one time, but has discontinued it.
Actually, it was restricted to 'certain' people. HQ, the Prez and the Sec can use it, but others, including other BOD members cannot.

USPA's general mindset is to not say anything about anything.
USPA often criticizes individual members when they pass on information that HQ provides them.

USPA membership needs to elect BOD members that will talk to members.
The current BOD has several members that have a great disdain for modern-day communication methods.
You only have to email the BOD members to find out who those people are.

PS--
Don't know if remember this, but USPA at one time did have a forum where you could post something.
It required you to fill out your name, address and numbers EVERY time you made a post.
That did not get much participation.

USPA and for that matter PIA do not want to host open forums because it may lead to additional liability.
For example, if someone posts something that is blatantly wrong and the forum host (a recognized leader in the skydiving/parachute world) does not remove it, and then someone else followed the advice and claimed 'I read it on the USPA web site, so it must be true' and crashed. Well that opens up some issues that may come up in a lawsuit.

In one way it may be better to have open forums run by people not associated with the 'official' organizations.

.


topdocker  (D 12018)

Nov 9, 2010, 4:52 PM
Post #6 of 17 (1459 views)
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Re: [Gary73] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, Gary, for providing this.

Communication has seen a huge revolution since I joined USPA 20+ years ago. Some members (and BOD members) are still catching up! USPA is still working to utilize as much of that change as we can.

So, looking at the proposals:
1. I think having an email address for the position, not the person makes sense, but I am unsure how that would work during transitions between office holders. Also, how far back would the history go? In some cases, having a month's worth would be useful, but in others, having ten years worth of emails still wouldn't tell the whole story!

2. Public forums for discussion on the USPA website would be great, and I think we have one going now on canopy safety. To date, we have had two responses, so hopefully we can create more interest in that.

3. I'm not sure we need an internal forum for the BOD members to discuss matters. If an issue comes up for competition, say, then the head of the comp committee sends an email alerting us and presents a discussion for members of the committee. Those matters that are of an urgent nature, the committee handles as a committee and the action is reviewed at the next BOD meeting. Also, do we want the BOD "meeting" outside the guidelines set forth in the Governance Manual? As it is, there are procedures for meetings and discussions between BOD members, and that would need to be addressed before such a forum could exist.

Remember, not everyone is able/willing to discuss things online. Some people I know are very brief in their emails, and others are verbose, it does not mean either cares more or less, just that one communicates differently than the other. And some people have great online persona, and no real world communication skills.

Lastly, communication needs to be a two-way deal. I would like to see a system where we get more input from more members, so we can have USPA reflect what its membership wants it to be.

Vote!

Craig Stapleton
Pacific Regional Candidate


Gary73  (D 21341)

Nov 9, 2010, 11:48 PM
Post #7 of 17 (1434 views)
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Re: [topdocker] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication [In reply to] Can't Post

Craig,

I would think that we could leave it to the directors to decide how long to keep e-mails. If they're like most of us, they'll eventually delete items once the matter has been resolved.

As for board internal communication, the advantage of a forum is that group e-mails rapidly get overloaded with quotes of quotes of quotes, etc. Forums make it easy to see who contributed what when, and to pick up where one left off when re-joining a discussion. BTW, I happened to be present when a board member heard through the grapevine that the Executive Committee had decided to cave on the Skyride lawsuit. He hadn't even been told, much less consulted by the EC. So yeah, better internal communication is needed. Maybe a forum will help. Doesn't seem like it would hurt.

Is there really a skydiver anywhere who is genuinely unable to communicate online, or are they just not sufficiently motivated?

WRT different people having different communication styles, that's fine, as long as they communicate.

WRT communicating with members, I can't think of anything better than a forum, with polls and such, to let directors get the sense of the membership.

Take care,
Gary


Gary73  (D 21341)

Nov 10, 2010, 12:06 AM
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Re: [MakeItHappen] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication [In reply to] Can't Post

Jan,

Thanks for the insight on previous attempts in this area.

I understand the issue regarding USPA liability for things on an official forum, but a clear warning on the subject (perhaps on every page) should be enough to protect us.

IMHO, the problem with a third-party forum is that it will never have the legitimacy of an official forum on the uspa.org website. Directors will not feel any obligation to respond to posts there, and members probably won't even bother posting.

Group e-mail addresses for committees is a good idea, but official committee forums might be a good addition.

Of course, the biggest problem is that some directors simply don't want to communicate outside their own little circle of cronies, and definitely don't want the general membership to know what they're doing. That's another advantage of a public forum: it makes it clear to the members who is communicating and who isn't, and with a little bit of luck they'll remember that at the next election.

Take care,
Gary


topdocker  (D 12018)

Nov 10, 2010, 8:56 AM
Post #9 of 17 (1398 views)
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Re: [Gary73] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Is there really a skydiver anywhere who is genuinely unable to communicate online, or are they just not sufficiently motivated?


WRT communicating with members, I can't think of anything better than a forum, with polls and such, to let directors get the sense of the membership.

I know a number of members who are not online. Many also do not feel comfortable voicing their opinion in a public forum. (Have you noticed how many lurkers there are on DZ.com compared to posters?) In some instances, it will give us skewed data, that is what we will have to be wary about.

What we really need is a way to communicate with the S&TA's in the region more easily, with me and each other. I'd love a forum for the S&TA's and one for members in my region. If re-elected, I will work to see that happen!

Case of beer, a campaign promise!

Craig


diablopilot  (D License)

Nov 10, 2010, 1:16 PM
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Re: [topdocker] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication [In reply to] Can't Post

You want a forum for what? So you can tell your S&TA's and other members in your region to shut up when they point out safety violations?


ozzy13  (D 29344)

Nov 10, 2010, 3:20 PM
Post #11 of 17 (1350 views)
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Re: [diablopilot] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
You want a forum for what? So you can tell your S&TA's and other members in your region to shut up when they point out safety violations?

WOW! Someone is not happyFrown


Premier TomNoonan  (D 24313)
Moderator
Nov 10, 2010, 6:41 PM
Post #12 of 17 (1328 views)
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Re: [Gary73] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Gary,

I just returned from five weeks in Nepal with very limited internet access and I wanted to make sure I gave your questions the time they deserved in a response, so I decided to wait till I got back in the US and settled back into day to day life before I replied.

You bring up some valid points about email and BOD communication, and while I would like to see more BOD members actively participate in email exchanges with the membership, I just don't see the need for a USPA based email address at this time. When the former SE director's term ended, he forwarded me his S&TA list as well as any other pending email/issues and I will do the same for the next SE director when my term expires. Using myself as an example, I have a personal email in Parachutist (noonantommy@yahoo.com), a work email, and a second work email for my skydiving contract work. As it is, I check three emails daily, and while adding a fourth may better separate emails a little better, I couldn't imagine checking a fourth email. (As a side note, for the SE region, one of the busiest in the country, I receive and reply to emails from the membership all the time. I know you had your issue with your awards, I'll respond to that too).

You mention the idea of a forum on USPA's website. Personally I am all for it. I have no idea about liability of info on there, etc, but if it's not a liability, I can't see why it wouldn't work.

Your last proposal here was for a private forum for BOD members to discuss things privately. There is currently an email forward list for when the need arises to discuss internal BOD issues, which usually include the Exec Director. It seems to work very well. I don't see a need at this time for a forum to be created for that type of thing. I have been on DZ.Com since 2000, and have always been a fan/advocate of this site and what it can do for our sport. But there are others out there that don't agree with forum based communications, and I would never want to force the idea of forum communication mediums on anyone on the BOD that isn't comfortable with it.

Okay, with that said, I wanted to take a moment and comment on the award issue you mentioned, perhaps what I have to say may make you feel better about it, maybe not, either way, here it goes.

As I mentioned, the SE region is probably the busiest region in the country for awards, pro ratings, etc. Year round good weather and heaps of dropzones all across the region to jump from. Every week my mailbox has applications in them, and my email box has emails from members. Since I was written in as the SE director two years ago, I have done the best I can to answer all my mail and emails, including buying a printer/scanner to speed up the turn around time. As for your app, I was the first to admit, it totally fell through the cracks. I was in New Zealand at the time, and it was sent it at about the same time as another region member's app with the same last name. I have sent so many apps in, and USPA's turn around in processing is so good, I assumed it was processed and that you were all set. The last name issue is what really threw it off. We got it done, I apologized and that was that. (I always responded to my emails though.) The other side of that coin though, is that many many times during the term, I would receive a phone call at 4:30pm on a Friday where a member had a pro rating app they needed processed for the next day. I would always stop what I was doing, print it, verify it, sign it, scan it and email it to USPA before 5pm,so they would be legal to jump their demos over the weekend.

I am running for National Director in this election because I believe that I was able to make a substantial difference for the USPA membership at the BOD meetings this term. There were a lot of USPA members in attendance and some other BOD members that shared the same belief in me.

How will I do that? To avoid turning this post into a marathon message, I will go to the other forum and post that now.

Please feel free to call me or email me any time with any questions you have.


Gary73  (D 21341)

Nov 11, 2010, 10:12 AM
Post #13 of 17 (1286 views)
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Re: [TomNoonan] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
As for your app, I was the first to admit, it totally fell through the cracks. I was in New Zealand at the time, and it was sent it at about the same time as another region member's app with the same last name. I have sent so many apps in, and USPA's turn around in processing is so good, I assumed it was processed and that you were all set. The last name issue is what really threw it off. We got it done, I apologized and that was that. (I always responded to my emails though.)

Tom,

I didn't intend to make a big deal out of this one incident, but since you mention it, it actually took four rounds of e-mails at approximately two-month intervals to get the awards issued, and no progress was made until the last round, when I copied USPA HQ. They're the ones who then took over and got it done.

When these awards were invented, there were far fewer jumpers and they made fewer jumps per year, so the workload on RDs was much lower. The real solution here may be to eliminate the RD from the award process altogther and just have the S&TA send the application directly to HQ. After all, the RD hardly ever actually knows the applicant, much less whether he really qualified for the award. The S&TA would be much better qualified in that regard. How would you feel about advancing that cause next term?

Take care,
Gary


Para5-0  (D 19054)

Nov 12, 2010, 6:11 AM
Post #14 of 17 (1242 views)
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Re: [Gary73] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication [In reply to] Can't Post

Great idea Gary,

The S&TA could easily handle the pro rating verifications as well. This would lighten the load on the RD. It is an extra step, no dought that can be eliminated IMO>


Premier TomNoonan  (D 24313)
Moderator
Nov 12, 2010, 8:22 AM
Post #15 of 17 (1224 views)
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Re: [Gary73] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Gary

I agree with you. I would definitely be willing to promote streamlining the process of award apps by putting it in the hands of the local S&TAs.

RDs nominate the S&TAs anyways, so it's not like the RD would have any trust issues with the validity of the apps.


diablopilot  (D License)

Nov 12, 2010, 4:59 PM
Post #16 of 17 (1189 views)
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Re: [Para5-0] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication [In reply to] Can't Post

Rich, I disagree. Before you give that kind of authority to S&TA's you're gonna need to evaluate those out there in the role. Quite frankly there are too may in the pocket of the DZO's if they are not the DZO's themselves.


matthewcline  (D 21585)

Nov 15, 2010, 7:14 AM
Post #17 of 17 (1140 views)
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Re: [diablopilot] Subject for Candidate Discussion: Communication [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with You JP. The RD needs to stay in the PRO Rating Approval mix. Too many "PRO" rated folks out there who think landing in a 100 yard area is "Close enough".

Matt



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