I voted no. Not because i want to see SCIP fold, but because i believe the F&S option is putting a sticking plaster on a wound that's hemorrhaging. What's needed is major surgery - and a complete rethink. The fact that this is presented as a fait accompli suggests this has not been done. The problems have been known about for some time - and preceded the current economic crisis. The board never really consulted membership about what could and should be done - and just assumed that they'd been elected to run the society without consultation. Worse - when members made suggestions or pointed things out (as i and several others have done) we were told that the board was competent and knew what they were doing, or words to that effect.
I'm a member of three other non-profit membership organisations. Each provides members a full set of financial accounts and have annual general meetings where all members can vote on how the society is run. I've attended the AGM of one of these - and a couple of years ago, the board put out some marketing plans for increased expenditure. The floor disagreed - and a motion was put to dismiss the plan. In the end, the society's marketing director convinced attendees and the plan was adopted. Had SCIP been this open i doubt that we'd be in the current situation. However it's only recently that any financial information was given out to members - and that was anodyne, and from what we now see, not even the full picture.
F&S seems similar - in that they also appear to be secretive (which may be why the match was made). Had more been given out about future plans i could have voted yes. However it's NOT good CI to make decisions in a vacuum. The key element for our discipline is to gather intelligence. In this case, the relevant intelligence has not been given and so, for me, the intelligent decision is to accept reality and vote no.
I hope that the "no" votes win - as that way SCIP can fold. We can then discuss on Ning how to resurrect it in a format that will work. If the "yes" votes win then i hope to be proved wrong. However based on previous trends and the secretive nature of both organisations, i think that it'll be the members losing or ending up supporting a commercial organisation that will do little to enhance the reputation of CI.
My main concern is agnostic to F&S per se and actually rather simple: what happens to the value of the SCIP Code of Ethics if we are in effect owned by a private, for-profit entity?
As we all know (although no one ever talks about it in public) on a very baseline level the Code exists to reassure our clients and employers that we will not land them on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. If something goes wrong, they can always say, "But we hired a company that obeyed these independent, ethical guidelines; it wasn't our fault." Hiring a CI contractor or company who doesn't (officially at least) adhere to the code is like hiring a roofing contractor who has no insurance. They may still do a great job, but if something goes wrong, you're on the hook for damages.
So what does the F&S merger mean for the Code? If we all still agree to abide by the Code, does nothing change? Or does the merger dilute the Code's value in the market place? I honestly don't know and would like to hear other member's views.
I also voted yes to the merger. My Board term ended December 2008, and believe me, the Board and SCIP leadership have had the best interests of the membership in mind in their actions during my full term, and especially during the last year as the realities of the recession affected SCIP's budget and revenue stream.
I see great benefits in the F&S arrangement, to help maintain the value that SCIP is already providing to members and the CI profession, as well as to help it make some of the new investments and changes it would like to pursue, especially for the global membership.
SCIP has struggled with finding a realistic way to move off its dependence on in-person learning delivery and to build up a body of knowledge from which to better serve the global membership. Noble intent only gets a lean association so far, and investment capital to all SCIP to build an offering in advance of revenues has not been in the picture.
This discussion is great because it has touched on so many of the challenges SCIP has faced and the possible future that the merger offers.
I'm happy that SCIP's not going anywhere, and neither am I. I have received huge benefit from my membership over the years, and I've tried to volunteer and give back. I'll continue to do that under the new structure.
I am also in favor of the agreement with F&S. Every major change brings opportunities to those who have the mindset to take advantage of them. As with the current recession, there are companies that are hunkering down, and there are companies that are aggressively turning negatives into positives and positioning themselves for the recovery. I suggest that we adopt the latter mindset.
Having served on the Board for almost 5 years, and as Treasurer for 3 of those years, I know all too well the financial constraints under which SCIP has operated. For close to ten years, the Society has been working to rebuild itself after the last downturn (and financial mistakes made at that time.) From my perspective, the business model for many individual associations (including SCIP) has not been viable for years. Rather than seeing this current situation where SCIP is in trouble as a deviation from the norm, I think the years when SCIP was profitable were deviations from the norm. At that time, a number of fortunate events allowed the Society to accumulate enough cash to postpone the inevitable. As a financial model, it simply doesn’t work – at least not for an organization of our size and membership structure.
A few benefits of the F&S deal appeal to me. First, F&S can help us to build a larger “tent” for SCIP. I see a future SCIP as a combination of a small number of full-time CI professionals, and a huge number of business professionals who are not members, but who can benefit from the CI skill set. To date, the Society has been unable to attract that huge number, and the reach of F&S can allow us to do that. Second is the benefit of shared services. If the F&S Institute functions as I understand it will, SCIP will share the costs of maintaining membership systems, web sites, office space, etc. These are not insignificant costs, in terms of both time and money.
Fundamentally, F&S will benefit from a larger and stronger SCIP. Their purpose here is not altruistic, but I imagine their goal is to be seen as a center of forward-thinking research and analysis. Working with SCIP builds that image. While the cynic in me worries that F&S will simply co-op the SCIP brand and destroy the Society, it would be far easier and more profitable for them to help SCIP grow, and thereby profit from their association with us.
Each of us needs to decide if we want to work within this new structure or not. I encourage you to think creatively about the positive aspects of this arrangement before you decide. If you vote no, and then work to establish a better alternative, I wish you the best of luck. We all owe our jobs to competition, and we can all benefit from new ideas and new thinking. Voting no to “punish” the Society for what you believe it didn’t see or didn’t understand, however, accomplishes nothing. I encourage all of you to vote yes and to bring your good ideas forward.
I, too, will vote YES for this proposed merger. I echo the the comments of Colleen Meeker, Bill Fiora, Melanie Wing and Craig Fleisher - all colleagues of mine on the SCIP Board during my tenure. I can't remember one Board meeting in which some very good program idea or new concept was raised, only to be frustratingly postponed or deferred due to a lack of human or financial resources.
I sympathise with Mark Johnson's (and other's) comments concerning his frustration in trying to offer changes to the organization. Having been the Board member responsible for Chapters (and the current Connecticut Chapter Chair), I know too well that it is a painstakingly slow process to try to move a big ship that is under-powered - that was the predicament SCIP was faced with due to the lack of funds.
The merger with F&S hopefully will provide not only much-needed financial resources to undertake new initiatives to increase member value, it will also offer increased exposure to a broader audience for the Competitive Intelligence discipline, the profession and those that ply this unique and important talent.
I look forward to supporting the new organization.
I can see the benefits of merging with F&S. As I'm teaching business strategy ( and CI), it is known that most M&A's are failing ( up to 80%), There is an urgent need to build up a plan which will outline how this merger will benefit SCIP.I will expect that this plan will be presented to the members and also to others who are not members at this moment and get their input before the final version. Also the final discussions with F&S and the decisions have to be opened. It is most important to let members to bring their input and to get their commitment to the new format of SCIP.I'm very encouraged by the concerns of the members as I see from this forum. this can be a great help in shaping SCIP.
As I just stated in another comment: I strongly suggest to vote with YES in this issue - let's see it as a great opportunity not only to save the Society but also to take several steps ahead, leveraging new marketing power and globalization opportunities. I have no idea why anybody would consider to vote against the proposal.
I will be voting 'yes', a no brainer for the passion-levels of esteem in which I hold the discipline. As Bill Fiora stated a 'larger tent' can only be a good thing and there are walls within Frost & Sullivan that sees the 'not for profit' mindset and approach maintained. Furthermore consider the reach and scale of the organisation given the tie up and the meeting of minds to grow the market together. OK, F&S MindXchange programme has had a longer track record in the US than in Europe but its audience is the customer group of, the participant in, the change agents of the benefits of decisions based on the analysis of all source information to take the market related issues from so what to what next, short, medium or long term. 'Oui', 'ja', 'si', and other foreign langauge versions of 'yes', typically British, 'yes please!'. Thank you.
You appear to be writiing about Frost & Sullivan (not exactly a non-profit organization). But as I understand it, this is not being touted as a merger between SCIP and Frost & Sullivan, but as a merger between SCIP and "the Frost & Sullivan Institute" - whatever that may be.
But let's not just look at what SCIP thinks it's merging with; let's also look at what F&S has to say about it:
"FROST & SULLIVAN INSTITUTE
A non-profit institute dedicated to providing research into planet health. The Institue [sic] leverages all of Frost & Sullivan's extensive research databases, brand name, and 360 degree visionary model to bring new insight, influence and strategy to global health.
Thanks for the response. I agree that everyone has an opinion, as do I, and I understand that others will see this differently or otherwise. Just wish to place my energies in a positive direction for the member and the members to be. Hope that we meet up in Amsterdam benefitting from 'a larger tent'. Until November, Michael, until November....if not before