2-min. dog trainer, proposals to improve TDAA

Here are some of my suggestions for moving TDAA from an organization led by a political body (the former Board of Directors) to an organization led by two individuals (Bud Houston and I) with constant input from membership.

First, communication between the leadership and membership will improve, with the leadership becoming transparent and accountable, and members’ voices being heard through a couple of standard processes, including but not limited to:

All TDAA members will be encouraged to join and read the TDAA members’ list (or subscribe to a new TDAA News site or facebook page) as their way to communicate with leadership. About 7-10 days before an advisor’s meeting is scheduled, the secretary or members’ liason will inform the list as to what new topic the board will be brainstorming. Members will have 7-10 days to post their ideas, argue publicly about them, combine them, and discuss. Members may choose to just send their brainstorm ideas to their board representative, their member liason person, or directly to leadership.

Instead of a call for “New Business?” (followed by board members’ pet project ideas, or crickets chirping) the board will have two standard bits of new business at EACH meeting.

   STAGE 1, they’ll be presented with the month’s brainstorm topic (if they’re reading TDAA news lists they’ll already know what the topic is) and their ideas will be joined by the ideas put forth by members. Board members’ ideas will carry the same weight as members’ ideas in this initial brainstorming session. There will be no discussion or critique of any idea — this is brainstorming only.  Board members may make personal notes of ideas that tickle their fancy and which they personally wish to consider further.

  STAGE 2 — the TDAA board of advisors will be asked for their input regarding the previous month’s brainstorming session. They’ll have had at least 30 days to consider implications, extract really valuable ideas, create idea combos and alliances, and pull from the previous months’ session the really valuable portions of the brainstorm. Endless discuss may occur, or assignments will be made for further work on any valuable ideas.

Second, each month, separate from any other report from the leadership, a board member will post to TDAA News lists on at least 3 items:  1) “here’s what I’m working on now for TDAA members,”  2) “here’s how TDAA is doing in my part of the country,”  and  3) “here’s what’s going on in my personal agility life (or life in general).”  Leadership may report on assignments they’ve received after stage 2 brainstorming as well as on-going tasks they perform for TDAA.

Third, the leadership activities will become transparent. Minutes of meetings will be posted to the members’ news lists within days of the meeting. Whether TDAA remains a member-owned organization or if Bud and I happen to “own” it, the membership should hear everything that affects them. Knowing that their comments are going to be posted, verbatum, to the TDAA News, may also make for a more civil meeting. Back-biting and personal attacks will probably decrease when true minutes are distributed.

Fourth, we’re reconfiguring our home’s interior to turn one room into the TDAA office and members’ guest suite.  ANY member has the option of spending their vacation with us, working for the organization. (ASCA, an incredibly long-running single-breed registry based in TX, has done this for years — except I believe you have to provide for your own accommodations when you travel to TX and work for ASCA.)

Bring your dogs and play with them in the 64′ x 120′, fully matted training building when you’re not working.  Schedule lessons in agility or obedience or rally, or visit our pond and meadow to relax a little.

But when you’re working for TDAA you may be doing data entry, posting new activities to various on-line agility bulletin boards, printing certificates, shredding outdated documents, filing, calling members, processing accounts receivable or payable, or updating the website (etc.). 

You stay in the members’ guest suite with a separate entrance, satellite TV, a full bath, and a kitchenette.  The official TDAA office will be IN this suite. We’ll picture this on the website as “Your TDAA office and member suite.”

I’d love to see this members’ suite occupied 25-50% of the time. You work for us, we work for you!

Bud and I have said this in many contexts, and in many ways, but I believe the biggest benefit to members is going to be a benevolent leadership that shares work with members — as equals.

We’ll listen to your concerns, shamelessly steal your great ideas, implement the best of them, and ask for your support when we take responsibility for the results.

Bud Houston’s been doing agility for 25 years. I’ve been doing agility for 15 years. We’ve both been in customer-service oriented businesses for 35 years.

I believe members will find our TDAA leadership a solid foundation from which to launch a successful teacup agility career.

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One Response to “2-min. dog trainer, proposals to improve TDAA”

  1. Linda Knowles Says:

    Marsha,
    Can you post this on the two TDAA lists? I don’t know if people are reading your blog or not. I think they all need to hear what you said in this blog.

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