Three Monkeys - Ten Minutes : Presidents Page September 2001

As some of you might know, I have been involved in a major system implementation at my work recently. Although it has not been taking up all my time, it has had an impact - for example I had to leave the last Phoenix main meeting early because I had to get back to work. Now there is nothing unusual in this. I have been involved in major implementations before and I know that quite a large proportion of you have also been in similar situations. What has made this implementation different for me is how well my employers have looked after me and my colleagues during the development and particularly the implementation. To illustrate this, over the actual implementation weekend the team was provided with meals and other snacks added to which we even got an implementation t-shirt. The overall effect of things like this was to build a good team spirit which translated to a dedication to do a good job.

The next bit of goodwill regarding this work was that after the work was done, I was told that there were thank you payments and some overtime allotments. This was news to me as I have never got anything like this before either. The payment was enough to cover the large part of the cost of a DVD player so off I went to my local hardware pusher to get a tech fix. This is where I had another positive experience. I talked to a salesman about my prospective purchase. He was pleasant and friendly without being pushy. We went over my requirements and the features of the various machines in order to get the best match. He did not try to steer me towards the more expensive models - quite the contrary he was able to recommend one of the cheapest models as being the best for my current and future requirements and he was able to give me a good cash price on it. Now all this is just being a good sales person. What he did next was the really good bit because he did it after he had made the sale and I had paid. The DVD player in question came with 5 free DVD titles. He opened the box to check that they were there and satisfactory. When he saw how ordinary the titles were he ran around their stores to see if he could find a better set of titles for me and he managed to come up with something that was more to my tastes. It was the act of doing the extra bit that he did not need to that created the impression of the shop's service that will last with me when I have another purchase to make.

Now before getting to the point relating to this good fortune of mine, I would like to mention that we have been embarking on some publicity for Phoenix of late. I am glad we are able to get this rolling. We get lots of ideas spouted about what we should do to get more members in. Too often these ideas lack anything to back them up. There most often is not the time, energy, money or talent necessary to implement these ideas. So its nice to see that Jenny has taken the initiative in getting her display for the public library in place. Thank you and well done Jenny.

Of course there is also Armageddon. A number of club members are putting quite a bit of time into doing publicity at this event. In many respects this is the best possible way for us to get publicity, where another event is able to draw people in to whom we can pass on our message. We do need to all give our support to Armageddon as we want it to come back on a regular basis. Each time that it is run, we get the chance to get more publicity for the club.

So what happens if we do get a number of new club members? What do not want to happen is for them to turn up to a meeting or two and then decide that we have nothing to offer them. The key to making this not happen is for us to have the right attitude. We need to be ready to offer a welcome to newcomers. In the incidents above I have come out of them feeling good and well disposed to my employer and the retailer. It does occur to me that there are some lessons which can be learnt for Phoenix . In particular I was thinking about what it takes to make the membership experience in Phoenix an enjoyable one. This is most relevant for when new people come into the club. It is important that we welcome such newcomers in a way that makes them want to stay and participate.

It is in the nature of clubs like Phoenix that they offer more to their members than just the activities that you participate in. Such clubs have a strong sense of community, a feeling that the individuals are actually part of something and that they matter when they get together. The feeling of community, or family if you will, is a significant part of the appeal of a club like Phoenix and we need to make sure that we perpetuate it in order to keep the character of the club strong.

There is a trap in the community concept however. There is an ever present danger that the club structure becomes exclusionary. The community becomes so wrapped in itself that it shuns outsiders. There is therefore the need to walk a path between being completely open (i.e. no sense of community) and this exclusion problem. Luckily this path is not a particularly narrow one. It is my belief that Phoenix has been reasonably welcoming to newcomers over the years, but we can most certainly do better. I would ask you to think on this whenever somebody new comes along to see what we are all about.