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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 second of these is the MISSION STATEMENT.

This is focused on the present and explaining why we exist and whom we serve. For the EBU it needs to be something like -

  • To promote the game of Duplicate Bridge so that the game is attractive and easily accessible to all potential players in England - or -
  • To govern, promote and grow the mindsport and game of Bridge for, and throughout, England - or -
  • The English Bridge Union is responsible for the advancement of Duplicate Bridge and the provision of the infrastructure to play the game in England. (Bidding for the Future 2013-2018) - or -
  • To lead the game of Duplicate Bridge throughout England so that it grows and is accessible to all - or -

Your views on the improtance of different words and concepts in the mission statement is sought.



  • First of all it may be helpful - if you are trying to transform the EBU - to label it 'NEWEBU'
    The best Mission statements justify the organisation's existence.
    It should encapsulate the few things that NEWEBU will be better placed to do to bring about the Vision for Bridge (see my comment on Vision Statement) than any other alternative organisation.
    It should specify how we uniquely leverage the EBUs expertise, experience, intellectual capital, and connections.
    The suggested ones are a good start but don't even get close to answering the 'so what?' test and 'Why EBU?'
    Imagine you were taking the Business Plan for NEWEBU into the Dragon's Den.
    That is the degree of compelling you should be looking for.

    Peter Bushby Suffolk

  • Following on from my comments about the vision, this would mean that the mission statement should follow that same line. Everything that you (the EBU) do, every law change, every pricing policy hsould all be set again this mission statement - if the proposition helps to achieve that aim, do it. If it goes against it, drop it. If it is neutral, then do not spend time or resources on it as you need to focus on the successful delivery of the mission.

    What might the statement be?

    Perhaps something along the lines of: A pack of cards in every house, a bridge club in every town, social and competitive Bridge available to all.

  • Get these statements right and act upon them and there will be no room for challenge from an alternative organisation. To “sell” NEWEBU to all bridge players the vision, mission and values must appeal to players ranging from the most competitive to the most social. Every bridge player will need to see in them something that they personally want from their national body. Following through on the promise of these statements will be what makes them wish to belong.

    My concern with the drafts suggested so far is that they are widely drawn and quite aspirational and may not have sufficient hard substance to be believable. Perhaps this is the same point Peter is making about convincing The Dragons’ Den.

    I think we need to be more specific. Perhaps we could include a statement of the main areas that NEWEBU recognises responsibility for if it is to achieve the vision. We could say, for example, that we recognise responsibility for the following:

    1) Maintaining the vibrancy of the game in England by promoting and teaching the game to newcomers;
    2) Providing a national framework for competitive players in the form of events, a reward system and a handicap system;
    3) Monitoring national legislation and international bridge regulation to ensure compliance in the way bridge is organised and played;
    4) Supporting clubs, whether competitive or social and whatever form of bridge they play, in doing any or all of the above at a local level;
    5) Selecting, financing and organising teams to represent the country internationally.

  • The EBU has a primary responsibility to its members, which are the county associations and the clubs which form them. Therefore it is not just about promoting bridge, it is also about not only supporting clubs but also working to help them be the best place to play duplicate bridge. We also want to add value so that we every duplicate bridge club can easily see the benefit in belonging to the EBU. So some of the things the EBU can do:

    • Promoting our member clubs to the general public and to the bridge playing community

    • Assisting clubs with key topics such as marketing and teaching

    • Maintaining a high standard in our clubs not only in terms of bridge facilities but also in warm welcome and in providing a route for beginners and newcomers to learn and enjoy the game

    • Supporting clubs with technology advice and resources in order to provide a smooth and modern experience

    • Providing accreditation and training for bridge teaching and directing

    I realise this last topic is largely delegated to EBED. I feel it is still an important role for the EBU even it is delegated to another organisation (albeit one that has close links).


  • I'd like to draw a distinction between a mission statement and a mission. The former is usually little more than a strapline (eg Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. eg2 “Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.* *If you have a body, you are an athlete.” - I'll leave you to work that one out ;) )

    The latter is far more useful because, as Martin says, it can be used as a criteria against which to screen every proposition. Very much as Peter suggests above, it should include: -

    1) Broad/Internal - An idea of what the organisation wants to be. (stemming from Vision if you like)

    2) Broad/External - A definition of product/market domain. Who are we going to serve and what will we offer them? Crucially this defines who the competitors for this slice of our potential customer's money and leisure time are as well (and competitors may well include theatre, sports etc etc)

    3) Narrow/External - What does anyone operating in this market need to do to be successful. Critical success factors if you like.

    4) Narrow/Internal - How we will conduct ourselves and how we will uniquely leverage the organisation's expertise, experience, intellectual capital, and connections (thanks to Peter for these!) to address the CSFs. For my first reference to the EBU in this whole post, I'd like to suggest that, "sharing a passion for the game of bridge" should appear here somewhere!

    Of course, getting this right is a difficult and time-consuming process. But the benefits are significant because it helps everyone to be clear exactly what the organisation is about and so ensure that all of its actions support that. At the moment I fear that may not be the case for the EBU.

  • I suppose one way to look at this would be essentially discount the EBU and start from scratch.

    If you were starting a new Bridge Organisation and wanted to compete against the EBU, what would it look like?

    Start from the ground up, ignore any and all of the current existing policies, processes and procedures.

    Once you have a new organisation designed you can then prioritise each of those aspects that new org would have that the EBU doesn't. Then start implementing changes to shift ever closer to the new vision.

    This process enables high level thinking and you can implement changes step by step so you can monitor the effectiveness (or otherwise) of those changes.
  • Absolutely like that! 100% right approach

  • If you were starting a new Bridge Organisation and wanted to compete against the EBU, what would it look like?

    Are we at risk of circularity? What I mean is, in order to "compete against the EBU" we have to know what the EBU is/does/is for. But that is what we are trying to define? There are plenty of worthwhile goals for bridge organisations we can think of: promoting bridge, supporting and representing bridge clubs, providing bridge services, organising bridge events, regulating bridge, teaching bridge and so on. Which of these are within the remit of the EBU or are all of them?

    Or is it something vague like, "To be an effective national body for bridge in England"?


  • @timanderson I think that your points are valid to some extent (in that if you are starting a new organisation/company, you should have a good understanding of your competition), but I also think that they somewhat prove the point too. You have listed some possible goals for bridge organisations - is that an exhaustive list, or could there be some additional goals that could be added? Should every goal even be included in the list?

    One of the problems with organisations that last a long period of time, is that things begin to be done because they have always been done that way. It is a valuable exercise to look at starting from scratch, so that you can come at it fresh, removing those pre-supposed conclusions.

    One example that comes to mind would be Masterpoints. Is this something that the EBU should be involved in? Does this add any value to us the bridge playing community? What is the cost of running such a scheme, is there value for money? A lot of older (more experienced) players that I know pay Master points no heed what so ever as they believe (rightly or wrongly) that this reflects more how long they have played or how many congresses they have played in, rather than their standard of play. Those players that take the game more seriously tend (in my experience) to focus more on NGS.

    Thinking about changing or scrapping the Masterpoint scheme will probably be scary at an organisational level. Building a new organisation from the ground up has no structural history, so there is no limitations and so this can be a useful exercise.

    Another example might be relating to teaching, should the EBU be involved in that, or should it be the remit of EBED or devolved entirely to local clubs or county organisations?

  • @martin these are great questions and things I think about too. I believe master points do have value but mostly for players starting out as they reward achievements and you progress quite fast early on. They are good motivators. Not so much for more experienced players who care more about NGS, or don't care much about either, because they play just to enjoy the bridge (and why not?).

    This is detail though. I would have thought the possibility of running a master point scheme would be fine within most overall vision or strategy statements that I can think of. Also the possibility of not running one if it were considered not worth the effort.


  • @timanderson I think we are close to agreement :)

    I was certainly surprised and interested when I had my first Masterpoints promotion, then once I looked into what it meant, I lost interest. Once NGS came out, I was fascinated and I think it was a driver (amongst others) to my improved bidding and play (I was always a good dummy!).

    The problem with trying to change an organisation from within, is all of the baggage. I would assume that some people are interested in their Masterpoints and they look forward and work towards each promotion. However, there is a cost to this, in both administration costs and time, plus there is (perhaps) an inbuilt stagnation and loss of innovation because the mind is stuck in the mold of Masterpoints.

    I am not even saying that Masterpoints should go, there will be arguments both to keep them and to scrap them.

    What I am saying, is that when designing a new organisation that does not have to waste time discussing Masterpoints or surveying members or whatever. The new organisation can do whatever they like.

    For example - we both recognise that newish players that get promotions early on, get a great experience. Later on, players may well get jaded. So, the new organisation may decide to monitor players - when a new player wins an event in a club for the first time, then new org sends that player a letter - Congratulations on your first win. Maybe at that point, have a free entry into a green point event/congress (use in the next 12 months). This could have a massive impact as a letter is so personal and to have recognition from your national body from just a local club event will at the very least, introduce the New Org to that new player. The offer of a free entry into a competition may prompt (lets say) 200 new players to enter into a congress/green point event every year. From those 20 play in 1 or more every year for the rest of their bridge career.

    Could that be possible in the existing system of the EBU? possibly, but there will be barriers in place that may stop this sort of change - for New Org, its just a case of putting into place a system to manage that process.

    I am not trying to make an argument for this idea, it is not a well thought out proposal and it was just the first thing to come to mind.

  • Just picking up your question, Tim, you might be able to get away with a vague mission statement, but if your mission isn't crystal clear nobody will have a clue what they're supposed to be doing. A clear mission gives everyone and every function clear direction. Hopefully, the current EBU will quickly grow towards the conceptual NEWEBU as defined by a clear mission.
  • edited July 2020

    @MikeWilloughby I have no objection at all to having a clear mission statement, it seems a good idea. I am not as convinced of its necessity, and having looked at some other examples it seems that many very successful organizations do not have clear mission statements and/or don't seem to be guided by them in reality. I would have thought a clear outline of goals in an organization's constitution (however that is expressed) would be equally good. In particular, it seems difficult to arrive at clarity in a mission statement if there is lack of clarity about what a mission statement is.

    Patrick said, "This is focused on the present and explaining why we exist and whom we serve." The answer seems to me straightforward: we exist to represent our members in advancing the cause of bridge in England (or something along those lines). Since that actually is why we exist. Any other type of mission like, "Making bridge wonderful for everyone", which doesn't mention our member county associations/clubs, does not reflect the reality of how the EBU came about. I have some concern that we might drift into describing our ideal bridge organization, rather than a mission statement for the EBU. These two things are related but distinct, it seems to me.


  • Tim, check out my comments above about the difference between a mission statement (which I generally don't actually have much time for) and a mission (which should guide an organisation). I'm more than happy with describing an ideal bridge organisation. That's surely what the EBU should be aiming to be? Why do you see any problem with that - admittedly conceptually because, as ever, implementation does usually present difficulties.

    I think Peter's comments (the second ones in the thread) express the need very succinctly.

  • Mike, no problem with the EBU being an ideal bridge organisation but it seems to me constrained by its role as an association of member county associations and therefore clubs - that's what it is. So it has to be "ideal" in that context.

  • Merely to promote discussion can I suggest "to be the best National Bridge Organisation in the World"? Not as an end goal in itself, but as a way of seeing what works well elsewhere and adopt/adapt their ideas as appropriate..

    For example, is there anything to learn from the FFB Bridge Box?

  • Yes, Tim, I sort of agree. So maybe it should be "An ideal bridge organisation as an association of member county organisations and clubs"? The counter argument, though, would be that, in developing strategy, you should not apply constraints at an early stage

  • Merely to promote discussion can I suggest "to be the best National Bridge Organisation in the World"?

    That's quite a sensible suggestion and fits well with the "an ideal bridge organisation" suggestion. It also complements the more structured approach that I've proposed above. The starting point, of course, is to define what the word "best" (or "ideal") means to a variety of different stakeholders.

  • @MikeWilloughby Not only do you need to define what "best" means, you also have to measure it.

    That is easy in terms of a national team (be ranked number 1, or win a big competition etc), but in terms of an organisation that represents players from grassroots upwards, that would not be enough.

    If you are to say something vague, like the 'best national bridge organisation', is this measured by membership, by revenue, by performance in international competitions, by 'value for money', by percentage of the population that play bridge or are members of the organisation. To claim to be the best, you have to know what that means. To want to be the best you have to know what being the best means AND you have to know how to attain that status.

    These are tough questions and there may not even be a perfect solution, but there are 2 important points here:

    1) Asking the questions is as important as knowing the answers
    2) Whilst aiming for perfect (or the best) you should not get in the way of improvement.

    For example, you may have an mission statement to represent all bridge clubs in England. Where are we now? Lets just say 50% - so there is a gap of 50% or say 5,000 clubs (these figures are made up, obviously, but I am just using these to express the point).
    So the mission is to represent all bridge clubs. First you have to define what a bridge club is, are we looking only at duplicate, or do we include other versions of bridge? Then we think, what do we need to do to affiliate 5k clubs... that's a Herculean task and when someone comes up with a plan (lets say, free membership for a year) and people will say, but that will cost us £x and even that will only bring onboard 1k clubs - so that is not enough.
    So the temptation would be to dismiss the measure and not take it on. However, that is 20% of your missing clubs and if it works, its a big stride towards 'success'
    Essentially, don't let perfect get in the way of better. Use the 'goal' or 'mission statement' as something to move towards, rather than as a barrier to improvement.

  • edited July 2020

    Sorry, Martin, I should have made it clear - that bit about being the best was a quote from 415788 earlier in the thread and I was putting forward the same point of view as you are - what does "best" mean. Other than that, I pretty much agree with everything you've said above.

  • edited July 2020

    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 Mission definition sets people’s expectations as to what the organisation will deliver.
    • The Mission definition gives a basis for the testing the validity of any proposed activity.

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

    MISSION : ”The EBU exists to represent the interests of English bridge players internationally, and to ensure that the needs of bridge players at different levels and of bridge clubs of all types, as well as the needs of those learning the game, are adequately addressed throughout England”

    There are many components of this Mission. The plan now is that by looking at what services the EBU does and could provide, in the context of this Mission Statement, we will learn which components are important to which parts of the membership, and find the best way to address the mix. County Bridge Associations (we have 39) are being asked now to raise these questions with their clubs and their players, so as to provide feedback on EBU services which will then drive the strategy development.

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

  • The Mission Statement is a very high level summary (first port of call for an outsider) as to what the EBU is doing in order to move the world towards the declared Vision Statement. It needs elaboration and the components we unpick need prioritsation. An exercise to do that is being kicked off this week, and we have asked the County Bridge Associations to take the lead in talking to players and to clubs. The EBU Board offers the following as a strawman breakdown of the services which the EBU provides. A thread will be created for each of these to capture any inputs people want to make on the various aspects of the component and of its importance in the whole spectrum. The list (at this time) is

    1. Support for recruiting, teaching and the development of bridge players.
    2. Running a variety of competitions for English bridge players.
    3. Communications about bridge for player members (magazine & diary & website).
    4. National grading schemes (Master Points and NGS).
    5. Provision of regulations for competitions in England.
    6. Support to the interpretation of the Laws in England, TD services.
    7. Disciplinary processes and dispute resolution.
    8. Advice and support to affiliated bridge clubs on club management.
    9. Promoting the game of bridge as a healthy and sociable pastime.
    10. Representing English bridge players in BGB/EBL/WBF and in the development of the Laws.
    11. Managing international representation.

    Patrick (for EBU Board, strategy development)

  • First off, I think that this process that you have been going through - open for discussion on here, and now publicly showing the initial outcome, is great.

    I have responded to each of the 11 points individually, but the mission statement given, ”The EBU exists to represent the interests of English bridge players internationally, and to ensure that the needs of bridge players at different levels and of bridge clubs of all types, as well as the needs of those learning the game, are adequately addressed throughout England” is a good one.

    There is one interesting element I see there, "bridge clubs of all types" (my emphasis) - is this a move away from a focus on duplicate bridge? If so, does this mean that there will be some EBU Chicago and Rubber bridge events/clubs?

  • The reason the words "of all types" appeared was to highlight a responsibility linked to both member-owned clubs and proprietor-owned clubs - which often have different needs.

    At the same time, it is worth noting that the remit of the EBU is (see the Memorandum of Association) a very general "competitive bridge" which can include some Chicago and Rubber games. The emphasis is Duplicate but that should not be seen as restrictive.

  • That's interesting... is this a potential growth area and way of moving players to duplicate? (I don't know anyone that prefers Chicago as a game after they have played duplicate.)
    Perhaps there is something that the EBU can offer these sorts of clubs? Specific tournaments for their versions, some masterpoints equivalent, interclub/ intercounty competitions etc..?
  • I wonder whether 'adequately' meeting the needs of bridge players and those learning the game will be sufficient to achieve the Vision of Bridge being recognised as the best mindsport and the most popular indoor pastime in England

    Peter Bushby Suffolk

  • You highlight a crucial and wider point, Peter. In the same way that the various functional strategies within an organisation (eg HR, marketing, operations, finance) have to be consistent in achieving the higher level organisational objectives, so the various statements not only have to "work" on a standalone basis, they also have to "work" and be consistent with each other when considered as a whole.

  • I think there may be another service required that maximises the benefit from the data that the game of bridge generates.....

    Aside from NGS the game of bridge generates a good deal of data, which would be very useful for a variety of purposes:
    Analysing individual, pair and team performance more deeply.
    Increasing interest and engagement with bridge and NGS.
    Determining the benefits of different a in various scenarios.

    However, much of it is not readily accessible for analysis, for instance the specific boards, opponents and results are in club and county databases and online sites, access is difficult and there is no national body that is taking ownership of the problem.

    However, the EBU is currently reconsidering what its Mission should be and this seems like exactly the sort of thing that a national body should be doing.

    For example if the EBU could facilitate use of this data to help members answer questions such as the following...…

    What is our partnership average against pair X and how has this changed over time ?
    What is our partnership average against pairs of NGS >50 versus pairs of NGS <50 ?
    What percentage of the time does our partnership fail to bid a good slam ?
    What is the percentage difference between system Y instead of system Z when the opponents overcall our 1NT opening?
    Is system X better in pairs or teams?

    I think this would be a benefit to individuals, pairs, clubs and Country.

  • How much of this forum is devoted to competitive issues? A lot.
    Who are the members of the EBU who visit this forum, whose opinions are being expressed here? Competitive players.
    Of the 11 "services" listed by patricks how many are definitely of general value to all bridge players? Three - numbers 1, 8 and 9.
    If you play for mainly social reasons what else might you be interested in? Maybe numbers 3 and 11.
    How many are therefore solely of interest to competitive players? The majority, 6.

    Of course the costs of each service provided by the EBU are not equal, but I can understand why a person who plays for social reasons would not wish to be a member of what is basically an organisation for competitive players - and if they do join for the good of the game, may have a feeling that they are subsidising the competitive players and in some way second class citizens.

    I believe this one issue is the stumbling block which stopped Pay To Play from being universally accepted by a large part of the English bridge playing population. It was not the price - bridge is still a cheap pastime. It was the feeling of "why should I pay for something that benefits others far more than it benefits me?"

    What I suggest is needed is a national body that provides items 1, 8 and 9 and the website for all bridge players in all bridge clubs at a lower cost than the current UMS charge, allows players to choose whether to purchase a magazine or diary under item 3, and invites bridge players to contribute voluntarily to item 11, the national team.

    This at a stroke elevates the social member from being a second-class citizen to being a full member and removes their objection.

    What of the competition services? Well they can continue to be financed through a pay to play charge on all events run as part of the National Grading Scheme, but at least it is then only the competitive players who are expected to pay for them. To further differentiate between full membership and participation in the competitive side perhaps this should be run as a separate subsidiary of the national body.

  • I don't disagree with Robert's suggestions as such but the alternative view is that the EBU should be doing more to incentivise club players to branch out into larger events and support district/county initiatives as opposed to charging members less if they choose not to interact with more competitive events. The launch of the national handicap event last year suggests that the EBU is leaning towards the latter approach.

    I agree that much more needs to be done for the latter option to be preferable, but recently my two local clubs joined together and ran a very successful Blue Pointed Swiss Pairs, just for members of those 2 clubs with capacity for up to 20 tables, and this has since become an annual event. 25% (roughly) of members are members of both clubs. This makes players aware of what these larger events have to offer without them necessarily leaving their comfort zone or their bridge friends.

    Now take a scenario where every cluster of clubs like this, with a small but significant joint membership, ran a Swiss Pairs each year. Swiss movements as we know have lots of benefits, including fewer moves, a chance to chat to your opponents, play against players of a similar ability to you and so on. If just a few pairs per county enjoyed it enough to look further afield and perhaps join in with the neighbouring cluster's event then that's suddenly a large increase in "competitive" bridge but in a more casual setting. Add a hand commentary, designed for NGS 48% players for instance, to each such event where the players can improve while they play and the benefits are multiple. Eventually players that do well will believe that they can move into higher-level events, whereas doing well at a small club doesn't correlate nearly so well.

    The question of disaffiliated clubs is more interesting, and some may have a just a couple of tables each week effectively playing bridge in their living room. These clubs are not the target audience of the EBU. The key point is ensuring that players within those clubs are aware of the EBU and what it can offer, whether that be improvers' lessons, bridge holidays etc. If those players are optimising by paying nothing and playing without scores or anything then the EBU can do no more - just because they play bridge doesn't immediately mean that the EBU has failed by not getting them onboard. The prospect of getting anyone who has ever played chess to play at a chess club is equally unrealistic. The EBU is not just an organisation for competitive players; It should be an organisation for anyone that plays regular duplicates but not just for anyone who has ever played bridge, there are some important differences.

    Of course if we're starting to look beyond duplicate than the EBU could happily organise a national rubber bridge event, and I'm sure some EBU members who have only ever played duplicates would be interested in playing in a subsidised first edition. It's not a change in direction for the EBU, it's purely branching out into a new sector. If that helps to bring the bridge community together a bit more than fabulous, and even if not it's something we tried and experimented with.

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