Consulting: USA Volleyball/ Beach Division review

≡ The Backdrop:

Although the U.S. is one of the iconic nations competing in the popular sport of Beach Volleyball, a deeply-felt distrust between players, coaches and administrators at all levels of USA Volleyball had risen to the level that the Board of Directors decided to obtain an outside consultant to conduct a thorough review of all levels of the USA Volleyball Beach Division.

Perelman, Pioneer was selected through a competitive process by a Board sub-committee, and engaged to conduct a review as soon as practical.

≡ The Work:

This was a listening process. No analysis was going to be possible without giving those involved an unfettered opportunity to express their views, in a confidence-building, private setting.

Beginning in September 2013, a series of lengthy interviews – some running to more than three hours – were held with 20 individuals in a one-on-one setting. These were done both in-person (preferred) and by Skype when face-to-face meetings were not possible. The participants spanned the breadth of USA Volleyball’s beach program:

  • Administrators, including USA Volleyball senior management and Board members;
  • Coaches, primarily of Olympic-class athletes;
  • Players, primarily at the Olympic and World Championships level;
  • Tournament organizers, for youth, emerging-elite and world-class athletes;
  • United States Olympic Committee staff who work with USA Volleyball.

These 20 interviews, which comprised more than 35 hours of discussions, were the basis for a careful analysis of the positions, desires and – most critically – the goals of each participant.

An initial draft report was provided to the Board sub-committee by November 28, and after review, the 156-page report (public version here) was sent to the Board of Directors on January 6, 2014. A closed-door presentation was made to the Board on January 27, which summarized the findings and the 31 recommendations and 33 action items cited in the report. A “Town Hall” presentation for the public was held on March 12 and streamed online.

≡ The Outcome:

The Board liaison’s verdict: “I think your presentation was a home run! … [T]he Board and the beach athletes were embracing many of your recommendations, even those that weren’t in their personal interest. … [W] e are on our way, thanks to you. Great work.” The distrust had stopped, in favor of discussion and cooperation, an excellent result.