Tag Archive for: CIPS

A few weeks ago now, CIPS (the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply) announced the result of the consultation process on proposed governance changes. It proved to be a vindication and a victory for the Board of Trustees, with over 75% of those who responded agreeing with the Board’s recommendations. That means no more democratic voting for members to elect Congress and (indirectly) Trustees, and no more CIPS Presidents.

I campaigned for a proper consultation to be held, as it looked at one point that CIPS might just force through the  changes – and indeed had already made some (such as abolishing Congress) which it should not have done without such consultation. I wanted to retain some democracy, which I genuinely thought would be the result of the consultation. I also wanted CIPS to retain the President’s role, which I thought might be a close call in terms of wider opinion.  I “lost” convincingly on both those counts.

One learning from this is to beware of the positive reinforcement or “echo chamber” effect. The vast majority of people I spoke to – and who responded to my quick survey I ran here – agreed that democracy should be retained. I can only assume they were generally people similar to me, perhaps a lot of older members, Fellows or perhaps just liked-minded folk –  which is why they read my stuff here or on LinkedIn. But I really thought I would “win” on that point, only to find a clear majority disagreed with me.

What is really disappointing is that only one person ever debated with me publicly and was prepared to discuss the issues a little on LinkedIn. So either those who voted with the Board don’t hold very strong views or are terrified of my amazing debating powers… who knows! But my point is that it’s easy to think that “everyone agrees with me”. We must be careful not to fall into that trap when it comes to important business decisions too. Look for the contrary view, for the person who doesn’t agree with you.

So, CIPS members, you no longer have a vote. CIPS is similar now to your gym or the AA, where your “membership” means you are a customer with a right to use the service, not the National Trust or CAMRA (just to take two organisations I’m a member of) where you have a vote and hence play a (minor) role in the running and governance of the organisation.

Nothing wrong with that, but you might feel differently when you don’t have that role. You certainly expect a good product (service) from the gym or the AA – you act like a buyer, not a “member”, I suspect.  So this change might just focus CIPS members’ minds on what they get from the Institute, which would not be a bad thing.  

And CIPS faces a challenging competitive situation. There have never been as many options for professionals wanting to feel part of a community, or to access useful intellectual property, information and knowledge, or to participate in events.  Much of what is available in those areas is free to users too. Even on the qualification side, which is CIPS’ main area of competitive advantage, new options are emerging.

The other point I’ve been considering is how will the CIPS Board measure the success of these changes? Here are some suggestions.

  1. The new appointment process will lead to better people sitting on the Board, says CIPS. OK, that is somewhat subjective, but lets compare the Board membership in 2 years’ time with where it was in 2021. But I’d also want to know how active Board members are. How many meetings or  CIPS events (both large-scale and branch type meetings) did they attend? It is no good having high profile global CPOs as Board members if they never turn up or actively support CIPS and its members.
  2. CIPS will appoint a range of people to fulfil representational roles instead of a President, they say. So let’s measure media coverage of CIPS “representatives” as a reasonable proxy for activity.  In my opinion, CIPS really missed out by not having a Presidential figurehead as a spokesperson during the pandemic.  The CEO did his bit, but he had a business to run in difficult circumstances too.  
  3. Another aim of the new structures is to improve member engagement. So let’s see the number of branch and other meetings organised by or for members, including virtual gatherings of course, and number of attendees – those seem like good measures. Plus perhaps number of “projects”, task forces, groups or whatever set up for particular purposes or to carry out a piece of work.
  4. Ultimately, the best measures are probably the core metrics – full members of CIPS and total revenues.

We won’t be able to judge whether the changes have paid off for a while, so let’s see where the Institute is in two years’ time. Put May 2024 in your diary. Whether I will still be interested enough in procurement matters to be writing about it then is another matter altogether!

Last week, CIPS (the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply) launched a consultation with members in connection with the Institute’s proposed governance changes.  After our campaign to make sure members were properly involved, it is good to see CIPS consulting on a range of options, even if (as you might expect) the Institute does argue the case for its own preferred position.

For each of the four issues, you are invited to “vote” for your preferred. Whilst this is not a formal voting process, clearly CIPS will be heavily influenced by the numbers, so if you feel strongly about these issues, please do take 15 minutes to complete the consultation.

So here is my brief summary of the issues and my own personal thoughts.

Point 1 – The abolition of Congress and its replacement by a new “Membership Committee”.

I voted for OPTION 1 (the recommended option).  I think the abolition of Congress was handled badly and arguably should not have happened until after this sort of consultation.  However,  Congress never really established a clear role and, in any case, it would be hard to re-create it now. So we should give the Membership Committee a try, although I have some reservations about its role, which is to provide oversight of the Executive (CIPS staff) who will actually be responsible for member liaison. I worry that CIPS may not have the resource or skills to take on that wide-ranging responsibility, and I’d want to see proper plans if I was a Trustee … but we’ll see! 

Point 2 – Appointing or electing the GBT (Global Board of Trustees)

I voted for OPTION 3  (not the Board preferred option).  On balance, I believe that as a membership organisation, some democratic voting and election process remains important.  So if members no longer elect Congress, then we should have some ability to elect Trustees.  I appreciate that in CIPS preferred option, “all Members eligible to vote would be invited to approve the appointment of all Trustees at the Annual General Meeting”  but this would be rubber-stamping rather than a democratic process. I would also point out that no other professional Institute I’m aware of has moved to an all-appointed Board, and if half the Board is still appointed (rather than elected), I don’t see a problem with getting diversity and the “right people” in as Trustees.  Finally, if we have a combination of appointed and elected Trustees, we can assess which route brings in the best people over the next 2 or 3 years. If there is a clear “winner”, then there could of course be a future change.

Point 3 – The composition of the Nominations Committee

I voted for OPTION 1 (the recommended option). This is a no-brainer in my opinion. The Nominations Committee is very powerful now and will be even more so in the new structure. So it must be more independent of the Board than currently; but equally there should still be Board (Trustee) representation on it too.

Point 4 – Whether CIPS has a President (or multiple ambassadors, or a Patron)

I voted for OPTION 2  (not the recommended option).  This is a difficult question and caused me most thought.   I do see advantages to the multiple ambassadors option, which CIPS supports, but I also feel something important has been lost since we stopped having a President.  We should have had stronger representation and presence during the pandemic, when our CEO had enough on his plate managing the core organisation through difficult times.  Indeed, generally, I feel the lack of a President puts too much responsibility onto the CEO. The CIPS recommendation to abolish the post may be driven by one or two recent bad experiences with Presidents rather than clear logic, and I’d also argue that there is nothing to stop CIPS having multiple ambassadors as well as a President!

I reject the Patron idea – all that needs saying really is “Prince Andrew”. Finally, I don’t buy the argument that having ambassadors will save CIPS money compared to a Presidents.  CIPS does not have to fund a President to fly around the world. Again, that relates one bad experience, I believe (and I’ve heard there’s this neat tool called “Zoom” too …)  And surely managing “multiple ambassadors” has a cost anyway?  So on balance, I vote to retain the role.   

That’s it from me –if you are a CIPS member please do use your vote – and show that CIPS members are interested in the future of our profession and our Institute!

What, you may ask, has been going on with CIPS and the debate about the proposed changes to governance of the esteemed Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply? (Start here if you are new to this topic).

You may remember I raised concerns about the way members were losing their right to vote (directly and / or indirectly) for members of the Global Board of Trustees (GBT), who ultimately bear responsibility for the Institute. That followed the abolition of Congress and its replacement by a Membership Committee – a step that, whatever you think of its merits, was not particularly well handled or communicated. Under the proposed model, Trustees would be appointed following an application and interview process, run by the Nominations Committee (NC).

As well as the issue of member democracy, many of us were also concerned about the power these changes vested in the NC, which did not appear to have the independence required if it was to play such a key role.  (I didn’t agree with the abolition of the President role either, but I didn’t feel so strongly about that).

I ran a quick survey that showed many other members shared my concerns, but then I had positive discussions with CIPS leadership on these topics in December. Critically, we agreed there would be a genuine and open consultation with members on the voting issue. That led to the Chair, Paul Thorogood, sending me an email in mid-December, laying out what he and the team had agreed would be the next steps. He agreed on a consultation in late January, which would address a number of issues, including, “The mix of trustees – appointed vs elected – on GBT and the process for appointing/electing members”. He also said that “Options will be proposed for each, together with pros and cons.  Members will be asked to select their preferred option in each case”.

I was happy with that, and backed off from my campaign whilst the consultation was being prepared; hence my silence on the issue recently.

I was therefore surprised – and annoyed – when I saw the communication from the CIPS CEO (Malcolm Harrison) to members last week and the new message on the website. That extolled the benefits and virtues of the process for appointing Trustees based on an application and interview process. It did reflect our discussions about the NC at least – but made no mention of member voting being retained.

Hang on, I said to Paul and Malcolm, that’s not what we agreed you would do.   Sorry, they said, the consultation is coming soon, this was just a communication about what is already happening now that Congress has been abolished – so new appointments to the GBT in recent months have gone through the interview process.  And we didn’t mean to go back on our agreement, they said, we didn’t think this communication was anything to do with the forthcoming  consultation.

The problem, as I pointed out, is that members would read the new note and feel the interview route and resulting dis-enfranchisement of members was a fait accompli. You’ve said all these positive things about the interview option – that is not exactly the level playing field we had agreed for the consultation.   

So in this week’s communication – mainly about ambassadorial roles – it was good to see some acknowledgment of that, as Malcolm says this about the Trustee issue.  

“In my message to you last week, I covered the proposals to open up the recruitment process for the trustees on our Global Board of Trustees which we had already communicated last year…. We wish to consult with members on several options, not just the proposal which we communicated last year. These options will be laid out in the consultation document which will be issued by the end of January”.

Confused? So just for the avoidance of doubt, the consultation, when it comes, is still important. If you feel strongly about preserving democracy in some form as a CIPS member, please make your voice heard. Personally, I would go for a mix of directly elected and appointed members for the GBT – but I accept that members may choose to support the 100% appointed route. No other major Institute has done this, as far as I can see, but CIPS could be a pioneer.  My main interest through this whole process has been to give the full membership a proper voice in the discussion, rather than just see a small group driving vital decisions.

The changes already made and proposed to the democratic process, to Congress, the Presidency and the GBT are really fundamental and change the whole nature of CIPS as it is currently described in our Charter. So it’s vital that CIPS does take governance – and the views of its members – seriously.

You may have seen the email from Malcom Harrison, CEO, and the information on the CIPS (Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply) website concerning some of the governance changes being enacted and proposed by the Institute.

It is good to see CIPS communicating like this and the note does answer many of the questions about the replacement of Congress by the Membership Committee. It was good to understand more too about the Volunteer Engagement Group – and to see some contrition for the variable  communication of the changes over recent months.

The “Q & A” section in that communication also briefly addressed the President issue, although again it talks about other ambassadorial roles, which we have seen little evidence of in recent times.

The big gap was the lack of mention of the Global Board of Trustees (GBT) and Nominations Committee, and how abolishing Congress also means that CIPS members at the moment have no vote and no influence on those two central governance groups. That also brings about the issue of the “circularity” I highlighted previously, with those two committees nominating each other, which I still think is unwise and unsatisfactory.

However, I do understand GBT is actually discussing (as we speak, as it were) whether there might be some alternative approach here that would preserve democracy. So I’m going to hold off the trouble-making for a few days and see if white smoke and some alternative proposals emerge from the Easton chimney. If not, I’ll be back on the campaigning trail shorty, with the aim of preserving some sort of democracy for CIPS and its members.

In the meantime, do make your views known to CIPS directly, using the address they have set up for that purpose – haveyoursay@cips.org. I have passed on the comments I received when I ran our quick survey last week, but if you feel strongly about this, then obviously it would help for you to express your views directly – whether about Congress, the potential disenfranchisement, the Presidency or whatever!

I would stress though that I don’t believe the changes are down to CIPS management, which some of you have suspected. It is the Board of Trustees who are making these decisions; the senior team at Easton may not disagree with them, but we should be clear that these issues fall firmly into the Board’s area of responsibility.

Thanks so much to everyone who responded to the CIPS members’ survey I launched on Monday. We had 100 responses by 3pm on Monday and I closed it last night with around 180 replies. Here are the basic results. I will comment on them more in a further article. However, the main reason for doing this was to check whether other members felt as strongly as I do about the changes being proposed. It seems pretty clear that my views are not unique!

More to follow, as I say, including “comments on the comments”, as it were – respondents made many interesting remarks in the free text part of the survey!   And thanks again for your participation.

Do you agree that the elected Congress should be replaced by an appointed Membership Committee directly reporting to the Board of Trustees?

Yes                                                                  6%

No                                                                  76%

Not sure / need more info                          15%

Don’t care – no strong view                         3%

Are you happy with members losing their democratic vote and the chance to choose at least some of the people involved in the running and governance of  CIPS?

Yes                                                                    2%

No                                                                  94%

Not sure / need more info                           3%

Don’t care – no strong view                         2%

Are you comfortable with the Board of Trustees appointing the Nominations Committee, which then appoints members of the Board of Trustees (with no elected members on either body)?

Yes                                                                  2%

No                                                                  92%

Not sure / need more info                            5%

Don’t care – no strong view                         2%

Do you agree that the role of CIPS President should be abolished?

Yes                                                                  3%

No                                                                  71%

Not sure / need more info                         21%

Don’t care – no strong view                         6%

On a scale of 1-10, how well do you think CIPS has engaged with and communicated to members in terms of these proposed (and implemented) changes?  (1 = not impressed at all,  10 = delighted)

Score 1  66%

2              22%

3              7%

4              1%

5              1%

9              1%

10           1%

The sample was heavily weighted towards more senior members of CIPS, with no less than 28% Chartered Professionals (and MCIPS / FCIPS of course). 26% were MCIPS and the same percentage exactly were FCIPS.  Over 80% were UK based.

The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) is currently making major changes to how the Institute is run, its governance and structure. Unfortunately It is implementing the changes after only limited consultation with selected members, and without communicating openly what it is doing, let alone asking for members’ approval to the changes. The most significant change would remove members’ voting rights; a disenfranchisement of 20,000 CIPS full members.

I know this has been a difficult time for all organisations, and I’m sure the CIPS Board believe they are doing the right thing. But as a member for 30 years, a Fellow and a Past President, I do not think this approach has been appropriate, and CIPS could lose a large number of members if it does not handle this well. So it feels like time for an open debate about exactly what has been going on here “behind closed doors”.  

There is undoubtedly a need for some review of CIPS structures; for instance, I don’t believe that the Congress has established a clear role since it was formed.  But change must be managed properly, and members must be involved and treated with respect. 

The major changes in progress

  • The Congress, which advises the Board, and is elected by members voting on a regional basis, has already been abolished – without communication to members. In its place, a global Membership Committee is being appointed, reporting into the Global Board of Trustees (GBT), which is the ultimate governing body of CIPS. The Membership Committee will be appointed following applications and interviews carried out by the Nominations Committee (NC), which itself is a sub-committee of the GBT.

  • Currently, half the members of GBT are appointed by the NC and half are elected by Congress from amongst Congress members. This means all full members have at least an “indirect” say in GBT membership – we vote for Congress representatives, and Congress elects half the Board from its own membership. Under the new proposals, the NC will appoint all members of the GBT following an interview-type process.  There will be no member voting.

  • The position of President is being abolished – a move which in my opinion seems to be based as much as anything on the last Presidential appointment not working out as well as was hoped.  

What does this mean?

  • CIPS members will no longer have a democratic vote of any kind to elect the people who run CIPS.  We will only be a “membership” organisation in the sense that the AA is a vehicle recovery “membership organisation” – we will simply be consumers of a service. That will be a different model from pretty much every other professional Institute as far as I know. All that I have checked retain some sort of membership democracy.   

  • There is a worrying ‘circularity’ in that the Global Board of Trustees (GBT) is appointed by the Nominations Committee (NC), but the NC itself is appointed by the GBT and largely consists of GBT members anyway. This does not appear to represent any sort of good governance.  I appoint you, you appoint me, I appoint you, and so on and so on!  

  • Making appointments purely via the NC and eliminating all democratic voting could easily lead to cliques, “chumocracy” and conflicts of interest.  Such a move seems unlikely to give members a greater sense of ownership, belonging or commitment to CIPS.

  • In terms of the Presidency, there will no longer be a professional leader for the Institute, a respected professional who can speak on our behalf. The CEO takes on some of those responsibilities but we can’t always guarantee that the CEO will be a credible procurement professional themselves (as our last two have been) and their core role is pretty demanding in itself.  There has been vague talk about “regional ambassadors” being appointed but no concrete proposals for replacing the President.

In conclusion

In my opinion these changes have not been fully considered, members have not been properly consulted, and I believe the disenfranchisement of members is simply wrong.  I fear the changes could lead to many members leaving the Institute.  If we want to get formal about matters, proposals and indeed actions already taken also appear to be in breach of CIPS Regulations and Charter.  Finally, the lack of communication to members so far is disturbing. If the Board has a case to make for the changes, it should make it openly and in consultation with members. And members must be given a vote on any proposals that fundamentally change the way a 90-year-old, globally respected and influential professional Institute is run and governed.

Survey

So, in the absence of CIPS consultation, I believe it might help move this situation forward if members follow the link below and complete a brief survey form. It will only take 5 minutes and will be strictly confidential. The results may prove me wrong – perhaps members think all of the ideas are fine and democracy is over-rated. I will happily shut up if that is the case. I have tried to make the questions unbiased, and I know some members, including a couple of Past Presidents I have spoken to, just don’t really care, so I have included that as an option for responses.

I will publish the results (anonymised of course). Please follow the link and give your views now. In the absence of CIPS pro-actively involving members in these important decisions, this approach seems like a sensible option to test views and indeed to provide some feedback to the CIPS Board. 

Link –

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/7C7NGYD

SURVEY NOW CLOSED – THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO REPLIED!