BMC Organisational Review Group Newsletter: August 2017

Posted by Ray Wigglesworth on 29/08/2017
A BMC member navigating through a cloud inversion. Photo: Prashant Khapane

The August newsletter from the independent BMC Organisational Review Group, featuring some results from the focus groups that have already taken place and thoughts on the organisational structure of the BMC.

We are still waiting for the data from the membership survey and there are two outstanding focus group meetings due to take place on 31 August, one with the clubs and a meeting with Mountain Training and other organisations which are linked to the BMC.

The focus group meetings have already provided us, however, with a huge amount of useful information and feedback, which we will use to form the basis of our recommendations. In addition to the views expressed by the persons who have attended our meetings, we have also received some written submissions from a number of persons, including Doug Scott, Dennis Gray, Pat Littlejohn, Stephen Venables, Rodney Gallagher and others.

Some persons have argued that the BMC should be an elite organisation, representing those who push forward the boundaries and frontiers of traditional mountaineering but the majority view is that the BMC should be an all inclusive representative body. In the focus group meeting with the current patrons and past presidents of the BMC, Sir Chris Bonington, Doug Scott, Dr. Charles Clarke, Rehan Siddiqui, Dave Musgrove and Mick Fowler all unanimously agreed, that indoor competition climbing should be included. The young indoor climber of today, or the young fell walker of today, may become a mountaineering star of the future. The young men and women who are members ( or potential members ), of the BMC are its life blood and vital to the continued success of the organisation.

The organisational structure of the BMC

Part of the work we have carried out, in the Review Group, has included looking at the history of the BMC. The present day BMC is a much more complicated and complex organisation, than it was in the 1993 when the first written constitution was drafted. During the 1970s and 1980s there was a gradual development of area and specialist committees. These committees, run mainly by volunteers, do extremely important work on behalf of the larger organisation. Some of the sub committees are small and operate autonomously within their own particular field. In the focus group with the chairs of the sub committees, one of the chairs expressed the view that the BMC was operated from the grass roots, rather than from the top, down. In theory this idea appears attractive but in practice, it may be important to have a nerve centre, at the top of the organisational structure, where all the information is fed and important day-to-day decisions can be made.

It will be important for the membership of the BMC to debate and reach agreement on a detailed and comprehensive aims and mission statement. This would include support for the old traditional values of mountaineering and support for greater contact with the UIAA and other international representative bodies. But it will also include support for the new breed of indoor climbers, who have opened a new chapter in the history of the BMC.

So long as there is a clear “Aims and Mission Statement”, which has been debated by the membership and approved, then the executive has a mandate to work in a particular direction. If the executive want to change direction, away from the agreed mission statement, they must first obtain the views of the membership.

These are all matters which the Organisational Review Group are debating and considering with a view to making recommendations as to how the constitution of the BMC might be changed and how the interests of the members can best be protected.

We have done our legal research and looked at the best practice in modern codes of governance. Now we are simply waiting for the data from the members survey and the results from the two final focus groups and then we should be in a position to complete our report.


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1) Anonymous User
03/09/2017
As the Review Group starts to draw together the elements of its report it is important that everyone looks back to the Terms of Reference agreed earlier in the year. The Chairman would be well advised to attach a copy of the ToR to the next newsletter so that everyone can see what will be required of the report, if it is to do the job properly.
It will also be important to have confirmation from the independent chairman of the review group that the report will indeed be independent and not subject to negotiation with the Executive Council and the National Council.

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