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The topic of SCIP governance and management seems to be a hot-button issue for several people in the forum. The call for nomination for board members has gone out and presumably an election of board members will be coming soon. With that in mind, this forum may be able to provide some useful guidance on how we would like to see SCIP prioritize its activities and some changes we might like to see at SCIP. These aspiring board members may be able to design a platform and influence an agenda based on the guidance we provide here.

Emphasis is given to objective, factual observations and actionable recommendations. Presumably we're all good CI professionals focused on providing "actionable intelligence" based on facts, so this should be something at which we would all excel.

I'll go first....

Change to be made: socialization of policy changes with affected stakeholders.

Observation: On multiple occasions in the past year policy changes have been instituted by SCIP national or the board that appeared to me to genuinely surprise groups of stakeholders impacted by said changes.

Two specific examples:
1. A policy limiting SCIP chapter coordinators to terms of no more than three years.
2. Changes to the compensation for workshop presenters at the national conference.

Why this matters: A basic tenant of effective negotiation and leadership is that people need to feel like they at least had a chance to be heard and influence the formation of policies that will impact them. The fairness, necessity or even rightness of any policy decision often does not matter if stakeholders do not feel that they have had a means to provide input into that decision.

The importance of consultation and buy-in becomes more important in a volunteer or "near volunteer" environment (the latter describing workshop presenters that provide their service at less than what they consider to be the true market value) because so much of the "compensation" for volunteer work is in self-actualization (top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs). "Having input" is a necessary element of volunteers' sense of self actualization.

Suggested action:
1. As the ultimate decision-makers evaluate their options for any given change in policy, they should incorporate stakeholder analysis and consultation as a step to take before any policy is solidified.
2. Make a list of specific individuals from different groups of stakeholders with whom to explain, propose and capture feedback on a given policy.
3. Decision-makers should listen closely to the feedback, take into consideration the feedback that resonates.
4. Decision-makers are obliged to explain to stakeholders elements of their feedback that do not address the original issue that necessitate a change in existing policy.
5. Design a new policy based on the feedback from individuals from the appropriate groups of stakeholders.
6. Re-check the revised policy with the previously consulted individuals and stakeholders and additional individuals.
7. Communicate the policy change to the appropriate parties, including a clear explanation of the issues that drive the need for the given change, acknowledge challenges to the change raised during the stakeholder feedback process and explain how stakeholders can successfully execute based on the new policy.

This does not have to be a one-off exercise. In an ideal environment minor tactical changes to policies, forms and processes will be considered based on the factual feedback from stakeholders.

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Thanks Claudia - I'd like to applaud the EAC in its work the past several years to make the education programs at SCIP a much more member-focused activity. And to echo Claudia's call that volunteers who wish to play a role should step to the plate to continue their good work. Claudia (Clayton), Dale Fehringer and Pat Bryant have really taken the topics and market need seriously and as their own leadership is about to rotate out at the end of the year, SCIP needs committed volunteers to step in.

As Sheila points out below, the collective memory of an organization is based on the immediate generation that precedes it, so stepping up early on as successors in roles such as the EAC is necessary to maintain consistency of planning and programming from year to year.
Hi Arik

Thanks for the applause. Some of that applause is due to Liz and now to Robyn and Sandy, and Ken Garrison as well. They have been very supportive of the committee. And yes I hope someone steps up to do this. I personally found it interesting, challenging, and rewarding. And there is a lot more to do ...

And Shelia in the interest of time I am posting my response to you as well. You have an excellent point and I think some of the structure of SCIP creates this loss of valuable history of the association. The staff turnover though - as I have been told - also has to do with staff feeling under appreciated and even having to pull arrows out of their backs more often than not. I find that staff respond best to respectful compliments and correction. For example, I have worked with one sub contractor on an ongoing, full time basis for 13 years. I pay more compliments than criticisms and still demand high standards. I think we can do the same with SCIP staff and get better results. It is also a good idea to pass those comments through Ken or the board members to make sure we see where there are clusters of problems, need for training or supervision, etc.

I will admit that I don't have some of the same frustrations that those of long standing as SCIP members reasonably do. As a relative newcomer, I don't have all those disappointments to remember. While they should not be forgotten, in my opinion neither should they be placed on new staff who are doing their best to make SCIP a more successful association. So we need a balance of memory and fairness to the new staff members. I do think that the comments reflect what happens when you have a lot of turnover and that high turnover reflects key issues that need to be addressed.

Those are my two cents -- we need members like Sheila and Arthur who bring that long term perspective and speak up about the things that need to be fixed. Frankly I'd also like to hear from others about these things and also about things the association could do to provide greater satisfaction along the lines of August's recommendations.

Going into 2009 we're facing major challenges in terms of meetings and travel budgets, membership budgets, etc. It will take a lot of grit and ideas to make it work.



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