I'm glad I am not alone. I can't imagine a supposedly democratic process where it is appropriate to update the voters on how the vote is shaping up before the polls close. Statements like the one below from the Scip.org website seem to be saying "If you were going to vote NO, don't bother - we've already won." Perhaps this is the way of the future.
The Society has to date received an overwhelming positive response from the membership supporting the merger. The vote has not only been a resounding “Yes,” but it is the largest membership voter turnout on record.
I kind of feel like the vote itself is less important than the debate before the vote since the results of the debate will lead people to vote with their feet. In my view, anybody who voted already based on the information contained in the official communique did so with seriously incomplete information and jumped the proverbial gun, so it really doesn't matter who's ahead.
Even now, I don't have confirmation on my assessment about ownership, which I really need to vote "yes" myself. Perhaps we all have different decision criteria? Or perhaps it's just a difference of opionion on what can be done even if approved?
Whatever the case, I'm willing to give Ken and Martha the benefit of the doubt on Dave Frigstad's motivation in doing this - altruism is not entirely dead; but I want somebody''s word in writing that is their understanding as well before I vote one way or the other. Barring that, frankly, there's plausible deniability that we misinterpreted this being a good idea and there's no accountability for the consequences if F&S has misrepresented itself.
Finally, if they have, I want them to pay the consequences for having done so. Like it or not, we're forming a contract here with SCIP and F&S, so anybody who voted without reading the contract deserves to be on the losing end if the counterparty isn't as virtuous as they thought they were.
Sunlight is the best disenfectant - I'd really love to see some of that Obama-like transparency in play here... otherwise, there'll be a second vote when membership dues come around.
There are many good points here, and I too am a bit sad about the fact that SCIP cannot remain an independent entity.
However, it appears today that the F&S offer includes a good amount of autonomy for SCIP without the negatives of SCIP in the past in terms of financial support, technology as August points out, and lack of awareness due to inability to effectively promote the group and the profession.
One reason that SLA has money, I think, is because there are so many vendors who support the organization. While there are some large CI consulting firms and some software or other providers, SCIP's focus is more on corporate professionals. This move will provide SCIP with the ability to maintain that focus and still have better financial support of programs.
As Chair of the Education Committee last year and a member for over 3 years, we have been severely hampered by lack of funding in terms of even beginning to duplicate SLA's CI educational offerings. We had a strong desire to move ahead with certification and long distance learning. The memo re the F&S merger indicates that certification will now be a reality. So, despite feeling like we may lose some of the advantages of a smaller, member lead organization, we will gain some things as well.
My one concern is the same as before the merger, which is how the independent consultants of SCIP, such as myself (and many others), will be included in the process and provided with opportunities and value as members, advertisers, etc. This issue should be clearly and directly addressed in any planning. It has been overlooked for some time now by SCIP and much of the volunteer base from this segment has become disaffected. This is a core of SCIP and needs to be encouraged to continue participating based on some recognition of its needs.
We will see what the merger brings, but there are certainly advantages ...
1. I would have liked more notice that there was an issue with SCIP's viability.
2. I think the membership should be presented with more alternatives, some that don't involve a for-profit company (however indirectly). Has an attempt been made to approach the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA) in Canada, for example? What about other sister associations?
3. I think there are more creative ways SCIP could generate revenue. Member fees are quite low compared to other organizations. Also, SCIP could grandfather senior practitioners into a certified designation for a fee. The MRIA in Canada garnered a critical mass of senior people into its Certified Marketing Research Professional (CMRP) designation through a stringent credential check and referree process. Other revenue ideas might include a fundraising drive or even a lottery.
4. I think that this "Competitive Intelligence" forum on Ning may provide a way forward for those of us who want to belong to an association. In fact, this type of platform could well be the new business model for progressive associations in the future. It's possible that the "associations industry" was due for a shakeout anyway. I for one belong to far too many associations (CMC, MRIA, SCIP, AUTM, LES etc.) with decreasing utility from each one over time.
5. Sadly, SCIP has been my favorite group to belong to over the years, and the conference has always been the highlight of the year's calendar. I hope SCIP can find some more varied and considered alternatives to become viable again, even if it means ceasing operations for a while and starting fresh at a later date.
Sorry to take issue with you, but regarding the question of SCIP's viability - where have you been? the whole JCIM debacle last year should have set the bells ringing about viability; the constantly dropping number of people at the SCIP annual conferences should have done so too, and further back, the closure of CIR, and the non-ability of SCIP to hang on to the IP inherent in the papers published there, losing that to John Wiley - with no access to SCIP members - all these were clear signs of problems of ongoing viability.
And, going back a few more years - the opening, and then closing within a few months, of the SCIP office in the UK, the raising of membership fees, the membership churn and constant drop in members over the years, the inability to set up a viable discussion space, such as this excelent forum here on ning, ... aren't these enough signs?
And no, the membership fees are actually really quite (too) high compared with many other alternatives ... and have been accompanied by a mindset that raising them is (was) the way to improve SCIP's financial position. Falling membership put paid to that notion.
As one example of creative thinking, the SLA introduced reduced levels of membership fees - for mid- and low- income groups in and out of the US - SCIP talked about such a differential but never did anything about it.
I just got off the SCIP Fellows telecon a few minutes ago (from 12:00 to 1:00 Eastern 11 May) and have to say, I feel more comfortable with this now that Ken and Martha have explained that Frost & Sullivan is simply providing a cash injection to meet the shorfall, plus a continuing line of credit and advice on getting operations worked out so they're sustainable, but that the ownership structure will remain unchanged. What we were told is, SCIP is still, as it has been, owned by its members and all current covenants and arrangements will be honored.
To be frank, I had really worried that F&S would be a kind of majority shareholder of some kind in all this and that's been clarified much better since raising the question of equity ownership of the merged entity. As long as F&S has no managerial control over the new and future SCIP, I don't see how this is anything but a huge win for SCIP in terms of a lifeline and would thank the SCIP board for their negotiating acumen and shareholders of Frost & Sullivan for their generosity in underwriting SCIP's continued activities. Bravo!
Of course, if the arrangement is somehow other than what I've reiterated above as my understanding from the Fellows call, please do not hesitate to enlighten me. I trust my friends and colleagues on the board but I'm not naive enough to think I might not have somehow misunderstood the nature of the relationship.
Indeed, that's why I'm entering that understanding into the public record herein.
I really cannot support the F&S solution. First, listening to the Board, there was way to much reliance by them on "we were told", "they have assured", "they understand", etc. To put it bluntly, such oral representations vanish once a written agreement is signed. Second, SCIP seems to be aiming at continuing the current business model, which has been properly criticized on this blog. If this model is weak or dis-functional for non-profits, find another. If not, place the intellctual property assets in the hands of an academic institution, such as Mercyhurst, close the doors, and say, d*mn we gave it our best. Let's see if we can do better the next time. John
I don't disagree with you John - that's frankly my motive for my reiterating my understanding of the key takeaways from the call here above - if this is all as was represented to the Fellows today, then there's nothing for SCIP's membership to get worked up about. If it's something other than was represented then correct it - otherwise, we'll assume it was F&S who are at fault for misleading the board, not the board for misleading the membership.
On the other hand, if I'm somehow wrong in my summation above, I truly and genuinely look forward to being corrected. In terms of actionability, I myself can't in good conscience vote until I get a confirmation that my understanding above is correct and somebody in authority (Ken G. and/or Martha G.) can put their reputation on the line that this representation is their understanding as well.
In that sense, this a kind of contract based, not on legal penalties, but reputational consequences; and as I said above, I trust the board to have worked this out to SCIP's advantage. If they've been misled by F&S I want to get that on the public record as well - so we know who's responsible for whatever consequences result.
There is no harm in making sure all parties know precisely what we're getting ourselves into. How can anyone vote without it?