USSA Cross-Country is, in practical terms, a staff driven organization. The volunteer (political) committee structure is in place, but is pretty much non-functional in terms of an ability to change or implement any new policies, directions and priorities. The committees get together once a year to go through a standard agenda, without including time for (prepared) discussions such as the one we’ve seen here at Fasterskier.com. There is hardly any committee work done, or any individuals from the committees involved in weekly or monthly strategy sessions at USSA, working groups, management of key action items etc.
Several articles have suggested that the answer to better results and development programs (and improvements in other areas) is by giving more responsibility to the regional programs. This would probably work well if a good regional organization and structure is in place, and that this organization and structure is similar within all the regions. To become a team, these regional organizations/programs would be given the opportunity to work together through a national system/coordination. In several other countries, key responsibilities of coordinating these regional programs is given to a National volunteer/political committee (i.e. USSA Cross-Country Committee), since the sport staff is too busy focusing on the National Teams.
In the author’s opinion, what is needed is a re-look at how US Cross-Country skiing is organized. The governing body needs to utilize its regional and volunteer committees much more. The governing body needs to implement a strong National Cross-Country committee with a strong, able and committed leadership that will function as the policy and priority setting entity on non-National Team related issues. This committee, with a regional membership should be given the responsibility to develop (and follow up on) an action plan for US skiing (covering non-National Team actions). The National Team and their requirements and needs should continue to be managed (almost) solely by the National Team staff.
NOTE: This implies the author’s opinion that the current USSA Cross-Country Committee (which he is part of) is not functioning, even with it’s current well-written and approved bylaws and policies.
The most important tasks of this committee’s action plan would be development of good regional management structures, a coaches’ education program/National Development system, a system for how to communicate and share information, setting priorities for the next few years, creating a unified regional system, fund-raising, etc
Such a committee or action plan is nothing new, just look to our neighbors to the north, or across to Scandianvia, where committed volunteers and regional sport representatives pretty much manage the sport at the non-National Team level.
This view throws the challenge of creating a greater skiing Nation back to the US Skiing Community, and not putting this responsibility solely on the USSA staff. As a few articles in the Fasterskier discussion said, the problem we are facing is a management and organizational problem, the challenge is how to organize all the different pieces we have (regions, high-school skiing, Collegiate skiing, clubs, factory teams, Masters organization etc.) into a unique US system. This view also assumes that USSA is willing to give more responsibility to its non-staff Cross-Country Committee and leadership — even as far as partial financial and budget control.
Form a â€œnewâ€ USSA Cross-Country committee (with strong regional participation) with clear objectives and actual responsibilities (separate from National Team responsibilities) and dedicated and able leadership. This assumes that each region puts forward its best resources.
Create a plan for how this committee operates (meetings, budget, regional support, etc.)
Create an action plan, with names and deadlines attached to each action item
From this will come practical solutions to many of the questions posed the last few weeks in the Fasterskier.com articles.
This is in other areas and businesses called: Better Project Management