This post is a continuation of the work I started in 2020 on the subject of demonstrating the value of Membership in the SCA. If you have read all my work before, or if you are also a Business Architect, read on. If you are coming to this discussion for the first time, start with Part 1 or you will be hopelessly lost.
If you choose not to start at the beginning, at least watch this video I made about the first Value Map to explain how to read it.
Participant: A SCAdian who has not paid a membership fee.
This is Part 4.
As an SCA we are notoriously bad at defining terms, and since we often use the term "member" to mean "person who shows up at SCA events" and also "Someone who has paid a membership fee". It will become important to this discussion to be clear what kind of "member" we are talking about. I have already defined both these types of "members' in the first value map, so I want to re-iterate that definition here.
Participant: A SCAdian who has not paid a membership fee.
Member: A SCAdian who has paid a membership fee.
The Stakeholder of this new value map is the Participant, not the Member. In some ways this particular value map represents the most direct value of SCAdian activities, as you do not need to be a paid member in order to belong to the SCA*. This model represents the core of SCA activities, whereas the Paid Membership Value Map represents less common value for your typical SCA attendee.
If I had to put them in order, Participant would come first, Member would come second. (That's not the order in which I wrote them, but I was initially trying to analyze problems in membership, not problems in participation)
The first 3 Value Stages Attend Unique Events, Learn about History, and Participate in History Focused Activities are what brings people in the door.
The last 2 Value Stages Make connections with like minded people and Be appreciated is why people stay.
Here is the full Participant Value Map
Ok, now that you have read the value map, I want to talk about how to use it as a guide to clarify why SCA participants are so incandescently angry right now, how a smart Board of Directors and SCA Corporate Officers make sure never to make these mistakes again, and how those who are rising up to demand functional change in our bylaws have a guide to help them think about how to properly restructure.
Reduce the value of these stages at your peril:
Any governing body, whether it is the current BoD or a future BoD, has to be very, very careful about taking actions, making rulings, or reducing the perceived value of any one of these chevrons.
Let me give you an example.
Attend events: Let's say that the SCA's insurance company came to the BoD and said "Pennsic is too dangerous, you have to do something to mitigate that risk or we won't insure you." And the BoD decided that the simplest thing to do would be to just declare that Pennsic was no longer an official SCA event. Now, Pennsic is a unique event. There is nothing like Pennsic, anywhere (other wars are also unique, I love Gulf Wars, and Great Western War, and some day I will get to Double Wars, and they are all their own beasts, and I love them). Should the BoD say "no more Pennsic" then the value of stage 1, Attend events will have been deeply damaged. Significant numbers of people would declare "If I can't go to Pennsic, then I don't want to play in the SCA.". Any decisions that get made around the insurance issue has to make sure not to significantly damage the value of attending unique events. A better approach would be to do an analysis into the things that the insurance company had concerns about and mitigate the precise issues called out, not just throw the Pennsic baby out with the bath water.
Learn about history: Let's say that Governor DeSantis of Florida creates an even more authoritarian law around discussing LGBTQ history. It does not just impact schools with licenses in Florida, it impacts 501.c3 groups as well. What if the Society Seneschal decides that in order to protect the SCA, LGBTQ history can no longer be taught at SCA events? Participants who are interested in accurate history, or the medieval take on LGBTQ life, or the history of sex work in period (I see you, Courtesan's Guild). will have the value of their SCA experience diminished. The correct thing to do here is not to bring down the ban hammer, but to carefully examine how to minimally impact the value of these activities to the participants, while shielding the SCA and it's participants from legal harm at the same time. Figuring out how to comply with the law without altering the SCA in such a way that it is unrecognizable to itself.
I could make an example for each value stage, but you get the idea. Anyone whose responsibility it is to lead this organization tinkers with the perceived value of those steps at their own peril.
Pro-Tip 1: Always increase value you offer. If you must decrease value, do it in as small increments as possible and try to increase value in the same or similar stage to account for it.
Now, Let's look at some colossal missteps from the SCA's past from the lens of this Participant Value Map.
Wistric Sanction: When you treat your volunteers poorly, including sanctioning those volunteers for doing their job, then you have damaged the value of participation. As Master Aeron proved pretty conclusively, a sanction was incorrectly procedurally applied to Wistric. As any serving volunteer marshal can see themselves in Wistric's shoes, the value of Be Appreciated for volunteering has taken a huge hit.
Creation of the Order of Defense: Similarly when the Board of Directors at first told the Additional Peerage committee that they would not create a peerage for excellence in rapier, they damaged the perceived value of being appreciated. The participants in the SCA rose up en mass and hammered the Board with emailed outrage. In both cases, what was working against the BoD's decision making was the side effect of the value Make Connections with Like Minded People. Anger in the fencing community is easily transferable because "these are my people" and because of the durable relationships participants make with each other through combat activities.
Attempt at creating required memberships circa 1995: Unlike the current version of the Non Member Surcharge, when the original incident started the Board of Directors announced that you had to be a paid member in order to attend events. This is unimaginable to us today, and it was unimaginable to the participants at the time. That policy change was a direct attack on the first 3 Value stage, Attend Unique Events, Learn about History, and Participate in History Focused Activities. SCAdians lost their minds. There was a lawsuit by some participants, which SCA inc. lost.
Pro-Tip 2: Before making decisions, pull your viewpoint up to the value map level and ask "what value am I impacting with this decision?" and "Is this a hit this value can take?" Think through a potential reaction, see if you can mitigate the effect. Think "Will this impact one or two individuals or will it impact a whole chevron of the Value Map?"
How our we and our governing bodies use this Value Map to improve the SCA can also be instructive.
Social or Participant Responsibility:
This map represents is the absolute foundation of the Value of the SCA. Since the organization is a "society" not a "service"**, there is an implied responsibility for attendees to help the SCA achieve this value for all its participants.
What do I mean by this: Laurels SHOULD NOT seam check participants, because although they think they are advocating Learn about History, what they are doing is damaging the sense of belonging inherent in Meet Like Minded People. Fighters should not, SHOULD NOT ignore newer fighters on the field because they have no chance of being a good fight. Fighters reduce the value of Meet Like Minded People and Participate in History Focused Activities to the participant when they do that; always help the new fighter feel like they belong on the field.
If the Society Chatelaine made a point of communicating what behaviors can be perceived as reducing the value of participation, this would make the SCA more valuable to current and future participants.
Royalty welcoming newcomers into court: This is a brilliant example of when the value of Attend events suddenly transforms into Be Appreciated and Participate in history focused activities for the participant. This ceremony represents an increase in value to the participant, and moves the value from the first 3 stages [Why people show up] to the last 2 stages [Why people stay]. This is the kind of social responsibility to the value of participation that works for the SCA, and we should do more of this.
I had a whole section I want to write about Corporate Responsibility to Value, IE how SCA, Inc, can improve the SCA by operating with the value map in mind. and include another Pro-Tip and maybe conclude with some inspiring words about truth, justice and Business Architecture. I will try to do that soon. In the meantime I got put on vigil for the Order of Defense on Saturday, and my brain turned to mush over the weekend, so I can't quite pull out all the analytical stops to finish this work.
I am going to semi promise a part 5 which will involve how the SCA, Inc. and it's Board of Directors can use this value map to guide future decisions, to retain and increase membership, and improve the value of the SCA. Also, I am likely to ramble about why the SCA is good at creating durable social bonds and how to use that as an advantage in recovering from our current crisis.
In the meantime, the King and Queen are gonna ask me a question about swords at Tournament of the Roses on May 13th.
It's not an open book test.
On the other hand, it is only one question, so I have a chance of getting it right.
* An attempt to restrict all SCA activates to Members only was a colossal failure. See the Missteps section
**I know that going to events is an exchange of money for experience, so it feels initially like a transaction, or a service. The SCA is a society; it's right in our name. Culturally you may have many reasons for rejecting "social responsibility" as a function of participation. Capitalist systems are often at odds with social bonds. However, the SCA is particularly good at creating durable social bonds. This is one of the reasons why it is so hard to quit the SCA. If a restaurant gave you the kind of service that the SCA, Inc gives it's participants and members, you would have walked away immediately. Quitting is harder for us to do because of the social bonds that are created by participating.
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