We live in a world that constantly bombards us with information, whether we want it or not. TV, radio, the internet, and of course that old fashioned medium that I still cherish – the printed word – relentlessly deliver everything from how to lose an inch off your waist without dieting or exercise (just put this pill under your tongue!) to the up-to-the-minute whereabouts of Gaddafhi’s dastardly son. Our brains overflow with this abundant and often unwanted onslaught of facts, opinions and solicitations. Which is why it’s so refreshing to see that Dressage Queen Canada has embraced a revolutionary approach to communication, one that spares us the further loading of information on our overtaxed cerebra. I can’t tell you how it warms my heart to know that DC is not bothering its members which such trivial matters as the position Canada should take regarding the FEI Dressage Committee’s proposed ‘blood rule’. Or with news on how they have handled the situation regarding Lorraine Stubbs’ ‘reluctant’ resignation.
Of course DC’s policy regarding communication is not new – they’ve been ignoring us for years. And why shouldn’t they? I’m the only one who ever seems to complain about it – and since DC has so finely tuned its deaf ears, it’s a snap of the fingers for them to pretend I don’t exist. Allow me to quickly disqualify EC’s paid staff (at least those who work wholly or partly for Dressage) from this compliment. They still adhere to that old fashioned notion of democracy that involves the pro-active dissemination of facts to its members. Well, at least those facts they are given to disseminate.
What about that blood rule, anyway? I was informed by our Fearless Leader Akaash Maharaj that he had been advised by DC to vote against the proposed rule which would allow for a horse to be inspected by a vet and permitted to re-enter the arena after it was no longer bleeding. In the event, he was not required to vote. The FEI Dressage Committee, led by Frank Kemperman, , wisely decided to remove the proposed rule from the agenda and turn the FEI vets loose on it to determine if it just might contradict the FEI’s highest mandate to protect the welfare of the horse (in my opinion, yes it does). No one had to vote on it after all. But that doesn’t change the fact that whoever at DC decided they were in charge of this decision also decided the members didn’t need to be informed, never mind consulted. Right result, wrong process.
And how about that kerfuffle with Ms. Stubbs? Despite my most ardent ranting (and a nice little cascade effect of comments on my post of August 30), there has been not one word from EC or DC or the Athletes Committee. Given that it’s now almost three months later, I’d be willing to bet an umbrella drink on the probability that there is a concerted effort to have the matter swept under the apparently very accommodating (and probably quite lumpy) DC HP carpet. DC is also employing the attitude of ‘tell them what they want to hear’, which is not easy to do when not everyone wants to hear the same thing. DC’s communications cleverness is seemingly boundless, however. They have neatly solved the problem by satisfying the people who think Lorraine should not have been disappeared from the HP AND those who think that she should. If you go to the DC website’s HPC page, you will see that Lorraine’s name is gone. But if you look at the DC Midyear Report (which surely must be the world’s first mid-year report to be published without a date), Lorraine is still listed on HPC, though Liz Steacie’s name appears above hers on that list, which kind of straddles the two possible realities since she did not join HPC until AFTER Lorraine had been disappeared.
And while I’m on the topic of Lorraine and her position as chair of HPC, I’d like to clarify something. I have never said I thought it was a good idea for an FEI judge to be Chair of HPC in the first place. But the potential for conflict of interest existed just as much when she was given the post in March as it was when she was removed a few months later. If the riders thought she was an inappropriate choice, they should have said something back then. And for all I know, maybe they did. It wouldn’t be the first time the athletes were treated to DC’s highly developed ability to ignore members.
The undated mid-year report is actually a treasure trove of revelations about what goes on in DCB’s collective mind, including further evidence that DC believes confusing people with contradictory statements is an excellent way to reduce expectations to the point that members will leave them permanently alone. Here are a couple of examples:
– at the beginning of the report, there is a statement about the changes to governance that were justified as follows: “These changes were made based on information provided to the board on “best practice” for not-for-profit boards”. A few pages later on, where DC’s financial picture is outlined (kind of), there is the following happy comment regarding the fiscal year ending in March 2011: “Dressage Canada exceeded its own expectations of profitability”.
– in the section of the report dedicated to rule changes, the following statement challenges the common belief that effects follow causes in linear time: “The deadline for member submissions for inclusion in the January 1, 2011 Rulebooks was May 31, 2011”.
– another wonderful way DC relieves its members of the burden of knowledge is by informing them of upcoming events after they have taken place: “please make it a point to attend the DC Reception on Thursday, November 10th” says the report that was emailed to members on November 15th.
-perhaps the most shining example of DC’s cutting edge communications style is the presence of DCB Chair Renee Young on the Communications Committee. Renee has not replied to a single email that I have sent her since the end of August.
So if you’re tired of society’s overwhelming desire to drown you with information, join DC immediately and enjoy a nice break. Silence is golden, after all.