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There are three high-level, authoritative statements, which underpin any business and we need to have them and be clear about them. The first of these is the VISION STATEMENT.

This is focused on the future and what the business aims to become; it needs to be stable, memorable, motivational and brief, something like -

  • To make Duplicate Bridge the most popular indoor pastime in the country - or -
  • To develop bridge from niche pastime to mass mindsport and game throughout England - or -
  • To increase the awareness and attractiveness of Duplicate Bridge amongst people of all ages and cultural backgrounds, and so double our membership by 2025 - or -
  • To enable everyone to enjoy bridge, in an atmosphere where you can make friends, bringing people together to exercise their minds while they socialise; we will challenge and inspire people to learn more about the game - or -

Your views on the importance of different words or concepts within the vision statement is sought.


  • You may find it helpful to start with a Vision for Bridge before developing the Vision for EBU,
    this would provide a context within which to plan the EBUs Strategic Future.
    At this Strategic Planning stage, in our uncertain world, you may want to consider four Scenarios not just one.
    E.g. Virus Free or Virus Pervasive combined with a Weak Economy or a Strong Economy.
    Rosabeth Moss Kanter once described Strategy as Improvisational Theatre.

    Peter Bushby Suffolk

  • I have to say that the only one of these vision statements that strikes a chord with me is the fourth one. Is it because it is the only one that talks about bridge rather than duplicate bridge and talks about mind exercise, enjoyment, atmosphere and sociability? These are why we play. I wonder whether "everyone" should be "anyone" as I whilst I am happy to offer bridge as a wonderful game to anyone I wouldn't want to force it down someone's throat if they didn't find it to their liking. Then the word "you" would need to be changed to "they".
    In response to Peter's comment shouldn't the vision of the national body be the vision for bridge, so once you have the one you have the other?
    Robert Procter Oxford

  • Interesting subject, I would agree with Peter that whilst the Vision Statement for the EBU is important, it should come after a vision for bridge itself. Vision Statement: To promote bridge to be the highest participation card game in England.

    In my own small way, helping to run a club as chairman and teaching our improvers class, I went through a similar process as to what the EBU are going though, myself. The club I was focused on was - as seems to be the case in many across the country - diminishing.

    I had found that bridge is excellent in many ways and on many levels and should be promoted to as many people as possible.

    My priorities, in order of importance were:

    1) Promote Bridge to see more participation in the local area.
    2) Promote Duplicate Bridge
    3) Promote playing at the club

    Bridge is bridge and if you can get people playing rubber bridge or Chicago, then they may later play duplicate, or they may get friends involved etc. You need a critical mass of players locally to have a viable club (for the EBU this could be changed to the country - you need 1 million people playing regularly to have 500,000 people playing duplicate, to get 5,000 playing in congresses/county events and the like. If you can only get 10,000 people playing bridge regularly, then you get only 5,000 playing duplicate and 50 people playing in congresses). So, first thing first, get people playing.

    At my club level I helped and then took over the teaching of the improvers and worked with the beginners teacher to ensure a unified approach. Our aim as teachers was to get as many people out of the classes and playing as soon as possible, then assist and support them to be able to compete. As a club we had a very sociable and quite low standard night - this was where people were steered to initially, with the idea that people would move to other nights as their play improved.
    For the EBU, this could mean teaching people to play bridge, or supporting existing club teachers and promoting the game to non-bridge players (there is no point having information in a bridge mag, or on our web pages). Perhaps we need to have regional staff/representatives start new social clubs, teaching all the new players. Perhaps tie in with existing social clubs (such as the U3A) to achieve this. This would focus on Bridge as a social game, rather than competitive, but have a clear path, you can play rubber/Chicago, no problems... perhaps more challenging but still social and fun would be duplicate bridge in a local club, then perhaps congresses and county events - perhaps leading up to representing your county and beyond.

    It is not a quick fix, but it could help to build participation.

    To provide a draw, we could run tournaments in a similar way to how big poker events run. Big prize funds and much kudos and fanfare for winning. How could this work and be funded? You have small heats with small entry fees... say £5 per person to enter - knock out matches say 10 matches over a weekend. Allow a buy back in if knocked out in the 1st or second round. Some prize money and free entry to the next stage.
    Run multiple heats online for small amounts, 3 BBO$ each, to promote numerous entries and to increase the prize fund.
    The next stage could be £50 each to enter, same format - people previously knocked out can buy in again.
    I have not worked out any maths for it, but multiple stages with the final stage costing say £10,000 per person buy in. Top professionals may buy in at this stage (perhaps having been sponsored?), amateurs may have qualified all the way through from a 3 BBO$ buyin game online.
    This final stage may take a few days, multiple rounds culminating in an all-play-all group of 10 pairs, playing 9 rounds of 10 boards
    Essentially, whatever it takes to get the winning pair take home £1 million between them.

    This big prize fund would give untold free publicity on news articles - maybe some rubbish TV channel desperate for cheap programs would take on filming the final?

    I don't see anything big like this taking place or taking off, until the participation level in England has increased - that to me is the priority.

  • I am not clear about the difference between Vision and Mission. I know it is always important to have three things rather than two :-)

    The vision is a goal. The mission is a goal. Or is the mission about the means of achieving the goal? So in football terms, the vision is to score more goals, or win more matches; the mission is to train a better team? But I don't think mission is a good word to describe that. "Plan" would be better.

    Please educate me and then I might be able to contribute more intelligently!


  • Tim. Not sure if it helps but when I helped organisations work on this stuff:

    A Vision is the succinct description of the ideal future state.
    Martin gets close with 'bridge to be the highest participation card game in England'.
    We can then ask: 'What is our Vision (ideal future state) of the EBU when Bridge has become the highest participation card game in England?'

    A Mission might be articulated by completing: 'You need us because we will ................... better than anyone else'
    I got the most powerful Mission statements by telling a team that the Corporate CEO was closing their unit down but would phone in 10 minutes and give them a chance to change their mind. I role played the CEO and played hardball with them, but we got crisp, powerful and relevant Mission statements.

    Peter Bushby Suffolk

  • Thanks Peter. Are these standard terms that are defined somewhere?

    Bridge could be the highest participation card game in England with or without the EBU, does that matter?

    Card games themselves are in decline so if we are focusing on bridge rather than the EBU we should perhaps aim higher than the declining world of card games.

    I worry that if the EBU sets its vision as primarily to do with promoting bridge then it is indistinct from EBED or for that matter BAMSA (Bridge A Mindsport for All).

    We are also about duplicate bridge not just bridge.

    I would suggest something more like "To enable everyone in England to have easy access to a high quality EBU club where they can learn, play and improve their bridge." But perhaps that is a mission and not a vision. No idea really!


  • @timanderson you raise some great points and ask great questions

    I sense from this exercise that the EBU has realised it has no 'divine right' to a place in the future of Bridge.
    That is great news because once they realise that it becomes a driving force to break away from the status quo

    You're right, being the leader in a declining market isn't healthy. Probably better to talk of share in leisure activities and/or include significant growth in numbers playing bridge

    If bridge is to become an order of magnitude more popular it will need a coalition of interested parties to promote it.

    Building on your suggested alternative I would suggest: "To enable everyone in England to have easy access to a high quality EBU club where they can opportunities to learn, play and improve their bridge."

    There is a mindset shift in thinking about how the EBU can add unique value to all players, of all ages, in all clubs, playing for all purposes from the purely social to the intensely competitive, rather than just those in 'our' clubs.

    For definitions and examples try here (I just found it on google): https://tinyurl.com/y9swopnj

    Peter Bushby Suffolk

  • Something to consider is that we have to attract new and perhaps younger people to the game of bridge.
    However, we also need to look after the existing membership.

    I see it a bit like Marks & Spencer's, at the end of the 90's, early 2000's they wanted to attract a younger market. They had new designers signed up etc. Unfortunately they got it completely wrong. They failed to attract a young market because M&S is just not cool. But they offended existing customers. I worked there one Christmas back in about 1998 and I recall a couple of old ladies talking about it, they used to be able to go there for a skirt and they would buy a skirt, then they can find one they like or would fit etc.

    So, the lesson here is that whilst change can be positive and lead to great things, it is also a dangerous exercise. One has to be bold to make big enough changes to make a difference, but open to critisism and feedback to change back where necessary.
  • For definitions and examples try here (I just found it on google): https://tinyurl.com/y9swopnj

    Thanks, very interesting. A lot of those statements though seem more like PR than actual mission statements. Also, Google seems to have its Mission and Vision statements the wrong way round :-) "To provide access to the world’s information in one click." is a "where we are now" but presented as a vision. In future, we may not click; and in fact today we might tap or speak instead so it is out of date already.

    Illustrating, perhaps, that these definitions are not very clear or precise.


  • @timanderson Most companies that go through this process end up with BS - statements that are meaningless, or sound good but they don't actually follow through.

    I am not sure that Googles vision of providing information in once click is the reality of their offering currently. I am pretty much an expert of using Google, I know how to use boolean search terms to limit the number of results as much as possible to limit the number of results given and to increase the chances of finding the correct information. For a quick example, if you wanted to see images of Madonna and searched for that term, the first 188 million results will primarily be about the musician Madonna. So then you have to add in another search term to refine it, perhaps adding 'Christ' to the search terms to see images of Madonna and Christ... but perhaps you wanted a particular image, or an image from a particular church, or whatever. So Google then failed to give you the result you wanted... even if you didn't search efficiently, it simply means that Google has not trained their user sufficiently well, or their interface is not clear enough.

    The Google example of a vision is a good and interesting one to look at - if you look at their vision 'To provide access to the world’s information in one click'. As it stands, Google presents their paid adverts being at the top of the list or results, companies that don't pay may be listed on page 2 (or later) of a search result because of partners and paid for advertisers. Does this policy of listing adverts prominently and at the top of the list lead towards their published vision? I would say not.

    Their correct vision may be more along the lines of "Be the 'go-to' search engine for most people the world over", or now that they have pretty much achieved this, they may change the vision to, "Leverage our position of the preferred search engine for users around the world to maximise profit and to give competitive advantage to our paying customers"

    As it stands, by placing paid adverts and preferred links first, they are essentially providing INCORRECT links to INCORRECT information, in direct contradiction to their current vision. Try searching, for example, for Subway - the first result I get is an advert for Just Eat. Search for McDonald's and the first 4 results are actually for McDonald's and I even get a list of the 3 closest to me and a map of those between the 1st and 2nd result. Why the different experiences, even though I have essentially searched for the same thing (the name of a fast food joint)? The answer is not a lack of technical capability, but due to monies paid to Google by those companies. This means that clearly Google are not actually trying to achieve their goal (at least their published goal).

    On the other hand, when done well, this can be a powerful tool. To give an example, my wife and I started a catering company a few years ago - we talked about what we wanted to do, what our USP was going to be and we came up with the name Fresh2u. Whilst we have not formalised a vision or mission statements etc, the name itself and our whole ethos is to provide our customers with fresh food. Now if we were to take on an employee, or open up another branch, then we lose direct control and these statements become a powerful tool. You can see then that should an employee have a situation where some food has not been used completely on a given day (lets say tuna mayonnaise) - what to do with the left over food? Keep it and give it to another customer tomorrow, or throw it away and do fresh tomorrow (or preferably, make themselves a sandwich)? The ethos and relevant statements would determine that it should not be used when not fresh. The statements drive the actions. If the culture is cultivated well enough, then should a manager start to put it back in the fridge to use another day, then another employee could challenge that and the company moves closer to achieving its vision.

  • edited July 2020

    @martin perceptive comments about Google which is a fascinating topic but we are in danger of straying off topic.

    It also seems to me better NOT to have a mission or vision statement, than to have a wrong one that can be used to justify bad decisions or block good ones.


  • @timanderson I tend to agree - having a bad mission or vision statement may well be worse than not having one at all.

    It should also be something that is under review periodically (perhaps a conversation every 12 months or when big events take place, then a thorough review every 3, 4 or 5 years or whatever).

    Regarding my comments about Google, whilst that could be a subject of great interest for some other space, I think it shows the potential for getting it wrong. I remember when an insurance company came up with an even worse strap line, "quote me happy" - as soon as I heard that, I thought it was crazy. It jest begs for a complaint when a quote is too high or whatever.

    However, consideration about what other companies/organisations have done, is very valuable. In part to see what works and does not work, but also to help understand the value of doing it right and the pitfalls of doing it wrong.

  • edited July 2020

    I wondered what the BBC might say in three years time about how Bridge had changed, maybe:

    "Numbers playing Bridge have grown astronomically since the EBU's transformation.

    An increasingly health conscious population are turning to Bridge for long term mental health. Schools promote Bridge as the best extracurricular activity to develop social skills and sharpen the mind. Increasingly realistic social interaction online has made the game accessible to all.

    The EBU led a coalition of many parties to bring this miracle about and give everyone in England easy access to high quality opportunities to learn, play and improve their bridge

    Major differences that we see from Bridge before the EBU transformation are:
    • The Bridge for Schools programme is pervasive and has young players everywhere loving the game
    • Bridge Apps mean those with less time can play the game in bite-size chunks.
    • The new Associate Membership category has brought many players and clubs (back) into the EBU
    • The calendar is full of mainly social events such as Café Bridge and Bridge with Lunch
    • Many online tournaments start and end with a social before- and/or after-party
    • The Rules of Bridge has versions for Youth, Mainly Social, and Competitive play
    • EBU Frameworks and legal guidance now protect Clubs at all levels
    • Hybrid face-to-face and online competitions are common and easy to run"

    Peter Bushby Suffolk

  • Thank you all for the contributions on this topic, which have been valuable in moving the thinking forward. As you will be aware, a number of the contributions went further than the questions asked; these have been filed for later use rather than addressed at this point. Key points which emerged here included

    • The Vision for the EBU sits within a vision for the future of the game of bridge.
    • The need for a Vision to be ambitious but still realistic.

    Without suggesting the answer is set in stone, the EBU Board has converged for the moment on the following Vision Statement

    VISION : ”Bridge is recognised as the best mindsport and the most popular indoor pastime in England.”

    As we go forward and develop Strategies and Plans, we will ask ourselves whether or not a particular venture supports or does not support this vision, and we should be challenged when a proposal does not.

    More thoughts on the Vision Statement are quite in order, but other threads will be started for discussions that go beyond this particular set of words.

  • I like this vision :)

    There are a couple of important questions that are raised here

    How do you measure the "recognition as the best mindsport"? Is this just asking random people, have you heard of the game of bridge and you think it is the best mindsport, or is there some other objective/subjective measure to be used?

    Similarly, how do you measure popularity? Is that realistic when watching TV is an indoor pastime?

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