20 June 2007

An open letter to you brave souls with no names

This is prompted by the fine people who aren't brave enough to place their names on comments to this post.

Dear Anonymouses,

Seriously, do you want expect anyone to believe you care about this subject when you are don't have the intestinal fortitude to place your name at the bottom of your comments? If you wish to hide in your anonymity, please go ahead (except for you Frank Lloyd Wright, I am a huge fan of yours, and appreciate your comment from beyond the grave). If these comments come from the board or directors, I think it only proves my point that there is no leadership. If it comes from anyone else, if you have opinions, please feel free to own up to them.

In reference to comment #5, One of the points I am trying to make is this, I got off of my ass and went to Lindy in the Park last Sunday, no one representing the board or staff of Omaha Jitterbugs bothered to get off of their asses. The one person who could have represented the organization who was there was there, Spanky, was there because he did set up.

In reference to comment #6: "It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much." Yogi Berra

In reference to comment #7, as for having a clue about the what the board does or doesn't do; if indeed the board does actually work hard to promote the Omaha Jitterbugs, all that effort has netted declining attendance at JNO and LITP, good job, who has no clue? You ask me to get the facts, well here they are: people are not attending JNO or LITP like they used to, what facts do you have to present, probably if you have any you wouldn't be posting anonymously. Since Omaha Jitterbugs is a registered non-profit, why not have the board meetings open and announced? People could then find out what is being done and have a chance to register their complaints and compliments when decisions are being made.

I still think you are missing the point. The directors and board are the storekeepers for the Omaha Jitterbugs Shoppe. I, and the others who come to the dances are the customers. The customers are leaving and shopping elsewhere. So go right ahead and tell me, the dissatisfied customer, why I don't know what I am talking about, tell me about how there is no problem. The great majority of your dissatisfied and apathetic customers will do exactly what they did last Sunday, not show up and not tell you why. Here is a lesson in business for you, I (and the other dancers) am not here for the convenience of the board and staff, you are here (or not here) for mine (and the other dancers).


Anonymous said...

Wow. A non-profit does not have "customers" as it is not FOR PROFIT. Jitterbugs is not a "shoppe" as it is not FOR PROFIT. Jitterbugs does not exist to please every "customer" who forms his or her own opinion of what Jitterbugs should or should not do. Oh, but I'm sorry. You're the expert on non-profits and how they function right? And maybe attendance has declined not because of the board, but because of the sparkling personalities that show up? All that anger and astounding non-profit knowledge must really attract flocks of people.

Sarah said...

I guess I can add my two cents and hope that I don't get lynched by any side.

I can't say whether the drop of interest in swing dancing has anything to do with the board of governors or not. I'm actually more inclined to say "not." However, I would like to know when they meet, how the meetings are conducted, and (at the very least) the results of these meetings. Also, more information about how to become part of the board would serve the group. Right now, to a lot of people, it seems like a clique of the elite.

In my opinion, the decline is due to this: the Jitterbugs have become so divided from past slights or an inherent dislike of another person for whatever reason (like personality) that these factions are fighting. People's hackles are raised, and the newcomers can feel that tension, even if they don't know the why and how. It's no longer a friendly environment, with everyone walking around with scowls on their faces.

We can help it by asking the newcomers to dance, especially if we're considered famous/popular/an instructor (I remember that when Billy asked me to dance on my first night at JNO, I wanted to become good enough someday to follow his lead easily). By at least smiling and waving, if not actually saying "Hello" and stopping to talk about what's going on with that person. (As a regular, it makes me sad when the only times "The Powers That Be" (as it seems) talk to me is to encourage me to go to these big events; it's just like asking that one cousin for money, IMO.)

Yes, we might not be for-profit, but we can at least use the customer service skills that shops use to encourage patronage. For, without patronage, the Jitterbugs cannot truly exist.

[And wow, that was a lot longer than I thought it would be.

::prepares battle gear:: ]

Troy said...

If people pay money for a service or event, how does that not make them customers?

smilechild said...

i'm with sarah... i can't say i know why attendance has declined, i can only see that it has. but as said in the previous controversial blog, leadership is about setting an example, which includes coming to events as much as possible (especially LITP and JNO) and reaching out to newcomers. So there's a challenge there for everyone - regulars, newcomers, or board members - what are we doing to help others feel welcome? i know when i first started, all i wanted was someone to ask me to dance... i was way to intimidated to ask anyone myself!

so thanks to all those friendly faces who have made me feel welcome and taken the time to say hi and/or ask me to dance.

my other thought... if onionboy is wrong, and there isn't a problem, then why get so defensive? seriously, it's like my third graders. if it's not true, then let it slide and show by your actions that it's not true.

Becky said...

I would say I probably have quite a bit of experience working for a non profit and let me tell you what, just because you can't turn a profit doesn't mean you can't serve your customers. You DO have customers in non profit. In fact, it is often more complicated than in for profit businesses because more people require pleasing. For example, I work for an agency that serves foster children, teenagers at risk for drug abuse and dependence and teens at risk for pregnancy. And a whole host of others... Who do we have to please? We have to please the state of Nebraska by taking care of their wards. We have to please the probation officers. We have to please Medicaid. We have to please the children, the foster parents who take care of them, the judge who makes most of the big decisions, the parents, the attorneys, the other professionals that get involved in some way shape or form. And who is paying us? Just the state of Nebraska. But they are not the ultimate say so in who we serve. We have to keep everyone happy. How does this apply to Omaha Jitterbugs?

You have to please the landlord who allows you to use their space, (they have to serve you as well... but still you have to follow their rules) You have to please the city of Omaha by using their park without violating their rules. Any vendor you choose to use for events- you have to pay them, make sure they have what they need, etc. The DANCERS. The reason the organization exists. Alienating them will not allow your organization to flourish, it will only cause it to die out slowly. If that is what you want, then continue to post anonymously with poor understanding of what a non profit is and what customer service has to do with the organization.

I seriously do not want to get too involved with this, because my reasons for not attending are personal, not anything to do with what may or may not be going on with OJ, but the way that first post was written makes me believe this person is somehow involved and that is sad because they are missing the point. they do have customers to serve and attacking one for expressing his opinion and not helping to address the issue is exactly the opposite of what they should be doing.

Polly said...

Valid points have been raised for both sides and it sounds as if there is a lot of miscommunication. There seems to be a big misunderstanding on the definition of a non-profit. While a non-profit exists to serve a community as a whole, the people who have been designated to lead such a group are no one's personal servants.

The problem is not that someone feels unhappy or displeased with the OJ and its leadership, but the means by which it is expressed. Making comments like, "Here is a lesson in business for you, I (and the other dancers) am not here for the convenience of the board and staff, you are here (or not here) for mine (and the other dancers)."

The same feeling can be stated by contacting the group elders and stating your displeasure with their lack of attendance and overall leadership. By making pointed accusations on the internet you only further stir pot, make more controversy, and continue to turn people away from the OJ. Newbies attending LITP and JNO (and reading this forum) can pick up on the attitude and dismiss our group immediately.

Again, I'm not saying your opinions aren't valid or warranted, but please channel them maturely.

onionboy said...

thank you for your input sarah, spanky, smilechild, bex, and polly.

regardless of my knowledge of non-profits or not, i have some business sense. anonymous, the dancers are customers, they are paying omaha jitterbugs for a product that is provided by omaha jitterbugs. you can call that product a dance, you can call that product an event, you can even call that product 'feeling good' if you want to.

omaha jitterbugs doesn't not have to make a profit, nor does necessarily intend to do so, that being said, the regular dancers, i.e., the repeat customers are going away. you don't have to have any business sense what so ever to see that regardless of our non-profit status, all the money in the world won't matter if no one is attending.

the customers are not being serviced.

polly, if indeed the purpose of a non-profit is to serve the community as a whole? then what is to be said when the community begins to not feel served? again, if the purpose of a non-profit is to serve the community, then i contend that even MORE so in a non-profit the staff serves the people and it's vision. in this case, the vision is to promote and keep the legacy of lindy-hop, balboa, and other forms of mid-20th century dance and dance music. how is the legacy being kept, if fewer and fewer people do it?

polly you also make an assumption, which is this, you assume that these problems have not been approached in another "more mature" manner. of course they have, only to be ignored. while your desire for me (only) to channel my opinions maturely is understandable, it has already been attempted. perhaps you can also publicly chide those without the courage to place their real or screen names on their responses to my original post, which is far more immature than any thing i could possibly say in this forum.

polly said...

Sure, I could chide those who post under the screen name 'anon', but the wonderous thing about the internet is that it is all anonymous. Everyone is hiding by their computer and a screen name. Anonymous is no different than onionboy or polly, it's simply a string of alpha numeric characters. But I digress.

Back on topic. As many have stated throughout this series of posts and comments is that there are extenuating circumstances that prevent people from being at every activity. Some people have their childrens' activities on Friday evenings. Other people may have family events or other commitments on Sunday afternoon. Everyone has jobs, families, and lives outside of OJ. The point you seem to be missing is that while OJ is an important facet, it is not their sole commitment. A lot of these people devote hours and hours behind the scenes to make and keep OJ running. Should LITP be discontinued because a director has a family commitment on Sundays? Of course not, that's ridiculous.

You state that your concerns have been previously brought up with the leaders of the OJ yet they were ignored. I find this somewhat difficult to believe because A based on comments from other users it appears the board is responsive and B I find it interesting you haven't made any reference to them blatantly ignoring you previously. Based on my interaction with you, it seems you would have made some mention of you talking to board members and their subsequent dismissal of your opinion. Instead you merely complain that the some people aren't showing up at LITP and JNO.

Anonymous said...

thankyou polly!!! That's the best point i've read yet.

Anonymous said...

Well said Polly, you hit the nail on the head.

Anonymous said...

Haha, I'm "Anonymous" today!

My comment regarding customer service and the way this complaint was lodged is this:

In a retail store if a person is unhappy they do not have to go to management to complain. They can complain to their friends, they quit shopping at that store. Hell, they can blog about how awful their experience was. Does that mean they are bad customers? No. It means they were upset and wanted to complain. Should they have complained to the management? Possibly. But will the management of that retail store attack the blogger on their blog for posting something bad about their store? Not if they want that customer back- or the readers of the blog.

If I read a blog and the comments and I knew that it was the management or board members being so rude to the blogger, I would definitely reconsider going to the establishment being complained about. Just an FYI from a customer.

More people seem to be upset by the way the complaint was lodged than the actual complaint. There are no rules as to how a customer can complain.

Anonymous said...

Well, there are some legal parameters, I suppose.

Sharon said...

I'm still trying to figure out what the problem is with posting anonymously. Does it really matter? We're supposed to be considering the points that person is making, not who to bash if we don't agree with them. Right?