Reasons for rejecting the CIPS governance proposals

Few were prepared to oppose the mighty CIPS..

We featured on Monday the upcoming CIPS governance vote and gave our interpretation of the positives - the arguments for voting "yes" in other words. Today we'll put the opposite case. I know there are people who are opposed but in the main they have been reluctant to speak up for various reasons.. but anyway, here we go.

  • Under the new rules, members have no direct say in who is running the Institute. Members will elect Congress members (who elect some of the Board) but have no direct say in the Board composition and therefore are a step removed from democratically electing the trustees of the Institute.
  • Half the Board is chosen by the Nominations committee – about which we know little. At least at the moment the Appointments Board is linked with Council and has Council appointed members.
  • The Chief Executive will have greater power as a Trustee as well as being the top executive.
  • A congress of 50 people, half of them from non-UK locations, particularly if it meets twice a year, will cost the Institute significantly more than the current cost of Council.
  • I believe the EGM motion gives the Board the scope to make further changes to the rules without consulting the membership again;  "a more streamlined and flexible governance structure that allows for future development without further need for bye-law changes". Not sure about that....
  • Whilst the changes are designed to allow CIPS to become more commercial, that may not be what members want; it may detract from the “public good” aims of CIPS; or it may upset relationships with other Institutes or similar bodies.

There is a more Machiavellian “against” argument related to that last point. If CIPS is going to get more commercial, one could argue that logically, any member who is a professional services provider – consultant, training firm, recruiter, maybe even software provider (all markets CIPS is in to some extent) should vote against unless they have a very good and close relationship with CIPS and feel that is unbreakable! Otherwise you're helping CIPS become an even more fearsome competitor...

But I would hope that most people would focus on what I think is THE key issue. Is the loss of some democracy (direct elections of the folk who run the Institute) worth sacrificing for greater flexibility and better management processes?

CIPS was ahead of it time of course – we've seen two countries sacrificing democracy recently for pragmatic economic reasons. I find it astonishing that the Italian leader was dismissed and a non-elected leader chosen by the French and Germans. But there haven’t been riots in the street so perhaps democracy is over-rated – hasn’t held China back of late. So perhaps CIPS members aren't too worried about this.

For me, ultimately, I like the idea that, imperfect though Council was, it was elected by the members to be the governing body of the Institute. And no-one has explained to me why we couldn't have had a Board that was also the trustee body, but directly elected by members.

So I have genuinely found it a difficult decision to make – it is finely balanced. But I'm finally coming off the fence and, because of an emotional faith in democracy, I'm voting “no” to the changes. But I fully expect the “yes” vote to win, and it may turn out to be a great move by CIPS. We’ll see.

And it would be great if you could let your CIPS contacts know about this and yesterday's posts on this topic to try and generate more interest and voting.

If you want to vote by proxy (the meeting is in Easton on the 30th November ) you must submit your proxy vote by next Monday. See the CIPS website here.

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Voices (6)

  1. MG Man:

    It’s taken me some time to work out why I had a feeling of unease about the governance proposals.

    My real concern is that we are asking to vote for a change of governance rules without having had the debate about the type of professional body desired by the members. There are various models for this, and as CIPS are now “global”, perhaps different regions require different models.

    So are we putting the cart before the horse in voting for or against a more streamlined, less democratic governance, if we don’t know where we are heading?

  2. Phoenix:

    I agree with Yorkie completely, but having served on CIPS Council for nearly eight years all told, I can’t make my peace with the proposed changes and, shocked by the apathy (with very few gallant objections), have sadly decided to start thinking of other ways I can be of service to my profession. I think CIPS’s obsession with achieving its business goals has come at a very heavy price: the engagement and enthusiasm of ordinary members, who want to come together to share thinking and debate the issues we all face. I feel the space is now open for a group of determined procurement and supply-chain professionals to create a professional development forum on-line that’s free for all, to expand the horizons of those that participate, world-wide, and to advance thinking in best practice – practitioners and academics alike. And with no membership fees to fret over.

  3. Yorkie:

    Like you making a decision on this one has been difficult. I have seen NO convincing case that explains “what is broken and why it needs to be fixed”. The apathy shown by members over this issue reflects a belief that it doesn’t matter what they say it will still be driven through and, that in general no one wants to put their head above the parapit and damage their professional standing.
    The Institute should always show the way and lead the debate and the profession to ensure that it is always fit for purpose and always relevent to the prevailing conditions. Colleagues I speak to tend to comment on the haste with which the Institute is being driven into overseas markets, the greater focus on “commerciality” over the good of the members and public service and finally what appears to have become a far less transparent and democratic organisation. The same individuals accept that the Institute must not and cannot stand still but changes must be well founded and be in the interests of the profession and the membership as a whole and should resist the temptation of concentrating power in too few unelected individuals.
    I am a reluctant NO, only because the case has not really been made for change and should have further informed debate. Like Peter I expect the changes to go through, though more because of apathy rather than positive acceptance.

  4. PlanBee:

    Well of course democracy is overated. A benign dictatorship would be far more efficient, one might argue thats what the best run companies have its what Britain had in WW2.

    Problem is of course that the words benign and dictatorship are (almost) mutually exclusive.

    I dont see what is so restrictive about the current set up. Council never voted against any proposals put to it in the three years I was on it, so aside of a slight delay in takingthings to a Council meeting, I dont know what they are trying to improve on.

    So why bother changing. I tend towards Machiavellian thoughts, and CIPS moving to a more comercial organisation and droppping some of its ‘public good’ obligations.

    As with the destruction of the old building society sector, I cant see this as a good thing.

  5. VegasChild:

    For the ISM board, as a member I vote from a list of nominated (i.e. vetted in some way) candidates. Surprised that you guys in CIPS don’t do the same.

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