Under the microscope

As FIDI analyses the results of its recent consultation with its membership, Secretary General Jesse van Sas examines some of the diverse comments received from Affiliates as part of the process

As I sit down to write this column, my mind is all over the place. I am not sure where to start. 

In the past weeks, FIDI has been conducting an in-depth survey of Affiliates, potential applicants for FIDI and companies who are not in FIDI.

The purpose of this exercise is to find out what associations, and FIDI in particular, mean for you. What value do they give to you? And how can you translate that into business success?

We have had hour-long interviews with more than 60 respondents, which has given us a ton of information, which we are now sifting through, trying to come up with meaningful conclusions. The work is not finished yet, but in a future issue of FIDI Focus, we’ll be reporting on the outcome. 

Why am I confused? Instead of looking at the raw statistics first, my attention invariably drifts to the comments section – where you can find people’s real motivations, suggestions and emotions.FIDI should do more. It should provide more services, more lobbying, more communication, and be more focused on the outside world.

This is where they speak from the heart, where you can find what makes them tick, and how FIDI affects them, positively and negatively. It is not scientific, and it does not give definite tangible data, but it tells you how the organisation and its services are perceived by some, and what our public image, justified or not, is in the field. But it is confusing, as these feelings and suggestions are extremely diverse, and often opposing. Here is a (paraphrased) selection:

  • FIDI should do less. It should be less involved, have fewer expenses, and be less focused on external parties.
  • FIDI sets the benchmark for quality and service.
  • FIDI has focused more on quantity than quality.
  • FIDI should be more democratic, hold more debate before making decisions, and involve smaller companies more.
  • FIDI should be less democratic, and debate less, with a faster decision process with fewer parties.
  • FIDI should be bigger, with more members and an open membership structure, involving more stakeholders in the industry.
  • FIDI should be smaller and be made up of just top-tier companies for quality, focused on our own trade only.

I could continue like this for some time, but this small selection shows that opinions are widely diverse – and that of course we need actual statistics to make sense out of all of this.

Whatever these numbers turn out to be, the willingness of the respondents to participate in this survey, to spend valuable time, mostly in high season, on the phone, to go through a long questionnaire, shows the passion that FIDI Affiliates, and movers in general, have for this business, for FIDI and for other associations. The numbers will matter and will tell us where we should be heading to. But the off-the-cuff comments are just as vital, no matter how confrontational these sometimes are.

In fact, I am encouraged by reading the preliminary results. There is a definite pride to being part of the FIDI family. Nobody is indifferent, nobody shrugs their shoulders and turns away. On the contrary, everyone is involved and is passionate to share and help build and improve FIDI.

As a membership organisation, FIDI is as strong and active as you want it to be. So do continue to speak up, but make sure to not always do this from the sidelines. FIDI has a clear and democratic decision process, that works through your local and regional FIDI Associations. Please use it.

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