Mark, I second a lot of this but especially that the growth model is broken and the lack of communications. I hope this will begin an era of can do instead of "can't do what other groups do cause we have no money". And I am making this short and sweet as I too have to get back to work!
If the reason things were handled as they have been is because of clumsiness then it calls into question the calibre of the board and their ability to make the necessary decisions post-merger. Maybe, following the merger, the board should stand down - and there should be new elections to bring new faces for the new era.
This is not meant to be unfriendly - just to explain my vote. I have been an officer on several Boards (religious, cat registries) and we were very ethical. So this is not my first rodeo. Boards write things so that their members will vote in favor and the membership does so because they voted for and generally like and trust the Board. We have seen this writing in our practice of CI (seduction, misleading, mis-stating, misdirection, indirection) and, of course, there is nothing wrong with this. But I live and raise those who walk on four feet. I walk on two. I voted "no". I'm not a sheep and won't be treated as one. As much as I like and respect the Board, voted for them and appreciate their hard work. Carolyn
SCIP and I go way back, almost (but not quite) to its beginnings. I founded the New York City chapter as one of the first ever city chapters – a new idea at that time (early ‘90s – before the Internet). I have met many clients and friends, people I have known through most of my working career, and whose “colleagueship” and diverse backgrounds and viewpoints I’ve always found stimulating, challenging, and valuable. I admit to having a lot invested in “the way we were”, and I’m concerned that we may not be passing that great legacy on intact to the newer members of our discipline.
On the other hand, as a professional business analyst, I make my living by pointing out that organizations are born because there is a need for them, they grow – and as the needs for them evolve, they evolve to meet these needs. And if they do not make that evolution happen, they go into decline, and eventually die out. This is a cycle, it happens to businesses, non-profits, political ideas, TV shows -- and professional associations.
This ability to adapt to changes in the environment is one of the Merriam-Webster definitions of “intelligence”. The fact that an association of intelligence professionals can’t be more open to changing itself to meet changed market needs says less about the management of that organization – which I think on the whole has done the best that could be expected of them in very difficult circumstances – and more about the innate inability of most organizations to adapt quickly and effectively to environmental change. (Read The Innovator’s Dilemma by Christensen for more on this theme.)
The strategic challenges for our discipline are much greater than the problems of SCIP, and I believe that SCIP’s problems merely model in miniature these larger secular trends. There are far greater problems in the intelligence discipline itself, as practiced both in business and in the military and political world. You needn’t look beyond the recent controversy over interrogation techniques to see that the whole discipline is in crisis – and has been for some time now.
A “sister” business discipline, strategic planning – to which we owe many of our models and constructs -- previously suffered much the same fate as intelligence. Its association has undergone several changes in ownership as it struggles to find an audience and a voice.
SCIP’s immediate cash flow problems need to be addressed, which this merger will apparently do. But more importantly its ongoing cash flow – and value proposition -- problems urgently need to be addressed going forward. It’s not clear how this is expected to happen. The implication is that the Frost people will somehow be able to achieve this, where we haven’t. While I hope this is the case, “hope” is not a strategy.
To continue the medical metaphor, this deal stops the bleeding – but the cancer in our discipline is still there. We’re being asked to approve a short-term solution to what is actually a longer-term problem.
I don’t mean to hijack this thread, which certainly has helped crystallize an interesting and valuable debate. But I believe what we should be using our considerable collective brainpower to ask ourselves is– how, in this era of unprecedented peril for business, and what seems to be almost continual tumultuous change, can we be adding greater value and relevance to what we do to ensure the viability and success of our clients?
Once we figure that out on a micro level (i.e., in each of our clients), the macro problems of the intelligence discipline will be solved – and the problems of any related professional network will pretty much take care of themselves.
Put another way, SCIP’s insolvency is a symptom of a deeper, larger systemic problem -- not the root problem itself. We must be careful to make this distinction, and keep our attention focused where it’s truly needed.
This membership vote is neither a referendum on SCIP nor on CI, but rather is needed for technical reasons (as specified in SCIP’s by-laws) to accomplish the merger. My vote FOR the resolution carries with it the following implied conditions: (1) a vote of confidence for the SCIP leadership that they have exercised adequate due diligence and stewardship, and made a tough decision; (2) my trust that they continue to monitor the status as and after the transaction takes place, and that they safeguard the interests of the entire SCIP community; and (3) my trust that they will address in earnest the longer-range issues of value to members and sponsors that I’ve mentioned above.
In response to the comments re SLA and why it thrives while SCIP does not, I'll throw a couple of other thoughts into the pile.
First, I am going to my first SLA conference in June as a speaker with Toni Wilson on the topic of how SLA members can educated themselves on CI. So I am not an expert on SLA.
However, I do know that somehow they managed to develop a series of web-based courses and a certification that while it is far less thought out than SCIP would like a certification to be, it still at least exists in real time. Also, they already have distance learning which certainly helps in a recession. And I am led to understand by SLA members that vendors are out in force at the conference, subsidizing all kinds of things because information centers still have budgets and the association has created sufficient growth and member mass to attract them over time.
Also, SLA has different areas of interest including their "CI Division". SCIP does not have their "practitioner division" and "independent consultant" division. No focus on us, no focus on SCIP.
Associations are important for information and idea exchange, but what almost ALWAYS supports them is the judicious use of marketing opportunities for the vendors. I say judicious because this needs to be a balance. Enough opportunities for vendors to reach customers but not taking over the educational aspects of the organization. It has been my experience - and I have served on the board of many associations - that no voice for vendors is as bad as too much.
It takes money to do the things an association needs to do to attract members and to provide them with value. Until this is part of the SCIP plan, there won't be enough to fund the things that will make the organization great.
SLA seems to be an association that is pointed to as successful and that serves its members and that manages to grow. It is not done by the miracle of loaves and fishes but by the sound approach of mutual need and advantage. And of supporting the many constituencies they have identified as being important to the organization. And some of these approaches could be adopted by SCIP without losing the intellectual focus of a professional association of competitive intelligence practitioners.
SCIP needs a real plan, not a mission statement. That plan needs to include marketing. SCIp does not have a marketing plan. I will just about bet SLA does.
OPPORTUNITY (sent at the same time to the SCIP BOD)
I have been told that I have led an interesting and exciting life. What I have done is make use of the opportunities that have been offered to me. Opportunities are always exciting. So now SCIP, along with membership approval, can make use of an opportunity it now has. This is very exciting for SCIP. Where does it take it? What does it do?
SCIP, although a professional association, has more than just a mission statement. It has a life of its own. It must live CI. In the life of a professional association, this means promotion of the discipline around the world, instituting pride in the practitioners of the discipline, teaching established methods of practice in the discipline for those just beginning and newer methods that enable the discipline to progress to another level. In addition, there is the social side. Members of any discipline need to interact. They need to get together with others who share their own interests and “speak CI”.
SCIP has performed all the above for many years admirably and, with their new opportunity, will continue to do so in the future. I hope to see many of you at SCIP events in the future where we can all help SCIP make the most of their exciting opportunity.
Carolyn M. Vella, Meritorious Award Winner, Helicon Group
Well said, Carolyn. There is always great opportunity with change. It is good that dialogues like this one on Ning are happening so that we can all better formulate our ideas for what we want out of the new SCIP. Then, as you so aptly said, "We can all help SCIP make the most out of their exciting opportunity."
Hi Michael, I can see in your message more of an opinion than thoughts. Now that the merger has been voted, it is either to contribute so it becomes a success or to think about something else.
What, is your mind, would make this merger successful?