In General Mish-Mash on September 29, 2011 at 9:59 am

My heart dropped when I read the headline on page 15 of yesterday’s Daily Telegraph.

Panthers dudded us

I never, ever thought I’d see such a headline.

And now, today, there is a suggestion that the intention all along was to dud the good people, who are the West Epping bowlers, of their property.

This belies the honourable actions of those who made the decision for the West Epping Bowling Club and Panthers Group to merge.

It is true that West Epping Bowling Club joined the Panthers organisation with a healthy bank balance, a well position land property, and a belief that it [the amalgamation] would mean both security and improvements.

They became West Epping Panthers … and they were excited about their future in a bigger and (apparently) more robust family of clubs.

Not so long after the amalgamation was completed, there was a significant – a dramatic – change in the tax regime on poker machine revenues. As a result, proposed spending on the West Epping was placed on hold – it became impossible to finance.

It was clear that things would be  difficult but there was confidence and optimism built on the sound and shared values, and open communications.

I know many will justify the West Epping closure with cries that these are hard times, and the future looks even harder. Hard times demand hard decisions. It is an economic reality that these sorts of things occur.

But there are 2 points that need to made about that:

  1. Process – the Panthers philosophy in the past, when it was a leader in the industry, was to keep the highest priority on preserving dignity, behaving respectfully of others, & being honourable & trustworthy. Even the hardest decision, decisions that were at times bitter, were implemented with the values respect, dignity, & trust resonating.
  2. Economic Imperatives – have dominated the club industry for a some years now. This is one of the main reasons there is a disconnect between clubs and the general public. And especially with the younger generation who are quick and alert in detecting a lack of authenticity. Professor Hing expressed it very well a few years ago:

This change in focus [by NSW clubs] from social to economic imperatives has aroused public and political scepticism about the clubs’ actual distinctiveness from profit-based organisations.

The rising dominance of economic imperatives is great, great pity because the club model is a very strong enterprise model, capable of delivering enormous benefit to communities.

There are some clubs that have adjusted really well to the changing community needs but the one hat was once the innovative leader has allowed to its focus to trip it up to the point that rather enhancing the community it is accused loudly of dudding it.

I don’t know what is most depressing – the fact that the West Epping bowlers have been dudded, or helplessly standing by and watching the decline and decay of  what was once a great community organisation.

Note: Until last year I was the Marketing Manager at Panthers. I have tried to write this in terms of general principles rather than the specific issues that are impacting the governance & management of Panthers Group. 

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