Tuesday, 27 April 2010

New LinkedIn Discussion

At the request of a none CITP BCS Member  I have set up a discussion group on the EGM that can be accesed by ALL BCS Membrs.

It can be found under the BCS Membership Group whixch can be joined by ALL BCS grades of Member.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Observations on Response from Trustees & CEO to call for EGM

The response from the CEO and Trustees is hardly worthy of recognition other than being another example of the kind of spin doctoring that is prevalent nowadays.

Here are few observations:

1) The whole thrust of the response is arrogant in suggesting that the point of the call of the EGM is for one individual to get their own back for their own failure. Most of the response is a personal attack on one of the signatories, admittedly the one who started the ball rolling - but if no support for those views had been found we would not be were we are today.

2) “The BCS is doomed unless the direction it is following continues”. Yet even the CEO himself says elsewhere that this is a 10 year strategy and that it is too early to measure the effects, so how does he know the BCS will fail if the plan is not executed. It is important to note that nowhere in the calling of the EGM has this ever been a requirement.

3) All the statistics used are cast to illustrate a point in some light, but as we all know that is the nature of statistics. They can be massaged whichever way one wants them to be. The converse could be shown here but it is completely pointless.

4) The cost of the EGM is what it must be. Relative to the 5 million pound cost of the Transformation Programme, it is a mere 2%. The BCS set the rules for the democratic right of members to call an EGM. These rules have been followed. Hence, the BCS should not be now complaining that these rules are inadequate.

It should be noted that the BCS rules HAVE been changed once already. Up until the early part of the decade, the original rules of the society only required 10 members to sign the calling notice. That represented 0.3% of the society’s membership of around 32,000 at that point.

5) At no time has anyone even suggested that there is a problem with the Transformation programme in its entirety or that it should be cancelled. Nevertheless, there is a distinct lack of transparency, despite what is being claimed. No proof of the project being on time and budget has ever been provided to Council or to my knowledge to Trustee Board, unless some Trustees were deliberately excluded.

6) The BCS commercial activities have always funded the membership, which is the only reason why they were established. Hence, the fact that the commercial activities do fund the membership should hardly be seen as a problem. There appears to be no understanding that to keep repeating this fact only fuels the perception that the Business resents the membership? However, whilst the commercial activities may well fund the membership, it has NEVER been proved despite my repeated requests for that proof.

7) The subsidy of the membership has not been reduced this year. The CEO knows that at a Trustee board meeting I suggested that all areas of the BCS should share the pain of the economic climate and that given that staff were suffering frozen salaries for the second year running the member groups funding should also be reduced. The offer was not felt necessary and was therefore declined.

8) Use of the phrase that the Transformation has “been independently managed by a contracted, independent Project Director” to confirm transparency is I believe is an incorrect use of the term “independent”. A contract employee rather than a permanent employee does not provide independence.

9) Although only one of the EGM signatories attended the BCS AGM, the CEO neglects to add that less than 30 members (i.e. < 0.05% of the membership) in total attended the AGM, despite a significant number living and working in the immediate London area. This means 2% of the EGM signatories attended the AGM. In other words these statistics are meaningless.

10) With regard to alternative Strategies, I don’t believe this is the appropriate time for that, especially when ALL attempts to discuss alternatives in the past have been met with such disdain and opposition, and it is just being used as another stalling tactic. Had it not been for this resistance from the BCS there would have been no need for an EGM.

Support from Ian Thornton-Bryar

From the correspondence, BCS has embarked on a major "Transformation" of the society. Yet they appear to have done this with little or no consultation with the key stakeholders. No wonder they are getting an abreaction.

From my training and decades of such experience, the initial need of an effective transformation is for a mandate to be generated and agreed. This needs to define its objectives in SMART terms (specific/strategic, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based). Then it needs to define the Critical Success Factors and weight these in importance. This is followed by an Option Analysis, comprising at least three options (do nothing, do everything, some reasonable intermediate point(s)), with the values of the options being analysed against the CSF weightings, to see where the sensible (from the point of view of the key (i.e., funding stakeholders - us)) balance lies.

Our "professional" management seem to have done none of this. No wonder members who have given decades of unpaid effort to the society are incensed. And I suspect that the vast majority of our members are not even aware this row is going on - hence the cheap shots about 0.1% support.

Don't take me wrong - I have been concerned about the lack of BCS professionalism for decades, so I'm glad to see a push in that direction. We're quite good at transferring competence. I've never seen an instance where we have done anything about teaching, let alone breaches of professional ethics, relaxed as the BCS standards are, especially when compared with doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, accountants, etc.

It also transpires that my CITP is not as equal as the one awarded by the firm that does Driving Test Theory, so I am not allowed to resume as a membership assessor without paying for the privilege. OK, several cheap shots from the hierarchy deserve another in return.


Ian Thornton-Bryar, DipM, DMS, FBCS, FIMC, CITP, CMC,

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Monday, 5 April 2010

Support from David Muxworthy

For me the BCS means mainly the branches and specialist groups - technical forums where members meet, discuss and share and advance knowledge. I care not one jot for example for the post-nominal letters with which the BCS seems obsessed. I don't know most of the petition signatories but see that there are quite a number of very experienced branch and SG officers.

At recent SG Assemblies I have been absolutely appalled at the way the representatives have been treated by HQ staff and by some of the senior Society officers. At one we were harangued at length because only 28 of 50 SGs were represented, even though the agenda was issued only three days before the meeting. It is a persistent theme that SG officers should give BCS affairs top priority, even ahead of their day-jobs. At another we were presented with a model SG constitution, compiled with inadequate consultation, and told to adopt it as it stood or have all funding withdrawn; fortunately this one was faced down. Discussion can be cut short with the excuse that the Trustee Board would not approve, without any attempt to reach a compromise or to progress the issue. The low point for me was in 2007. I wrote this note the following day:

"Alan Pollard gave an extraordinary performance at the SG Assembly yesterday. Facing an audience which consisted, apart from the HQ staff, totally of very highly disgruntled SG representatives he behaved as if he were still in the army and made not the slightest effort to mollify them. Paraphrasing, he said that an organization of this size needs management and you are being managed. There is no point in grumbling or debating. That is not to the benefit of the Society and lessens morale. Let's not do it. You are being managed. If you don't like it stand for election yourself. PS: in case you didn't get the message you are being managed. Now go away and do what you are told.

The agenda had been arranged to allow minimal time for questions on finance but a splendid man from Glasgow protested very eloquently and very angrily that he had got up at 5am to get to the meeting only to find he was being patronized, told what had already been decided and was not able to make any substantive contribution. However, "water" and "duck's back" spring to mind to describe Pollard's and HQ staff's attitude."


Support from Mike Moss

Just to advise you guys that this is not the first time that the central part of BCS went down a path which took it away from the branches and the ordinary members of the Society.

It is going back in the mists of time to 1992 when action was taken in response to the fact that the BCS centre kept saying that the members were the backbone of the Society but cut back every year on the funding and backing for the branches. At the time I was Chairman of the Manchester branch and representative of the north on the branches board committee.

I was unhappy with the situation, so coordinated action nationally across branches' chairmen to lodge protests. We then proceeded to put down a motion at the AGM and this elicited response to the effect that the then president came north to discuss with us. We received a commitment to increase funding and support for the branches (and this was put into effect in succeeding years). We left the motion on the table at the AGM without active campaigning and the only reason it failed was because the President claimed the right to vote on behalf of members who had not specifically voted in favour of the motion.

It is sad that the Society has come to a similar situation now. However, experience says that sometimes one has to go beyond soft words with some people who respond only to actions.

Michael Moss CITP LLB

Letters to Computer Weekly

It would be great if those that support the calll for an EGM would write or email Computer Weekly with that support.

The Editorial email address for Computer Weekly is computer.weekly@rbi.co.uk and their postal address is Computer Weekly, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey, SM2 5AS.

If you do send a letter to Computer Weekly please do copy me in so that I can post the letter or links to it here.

Friday, 2 April 2010

More Media Attention

Thanks to David Clarke for identifying this one


Response to David Clarke's Computer Weekly Piece - 31st March 2010

Is that all the BCS CEO & Trustees can say?

David Clarke’s recent comment on the call for an EGM is short and sweet which is not surprising as it cherry picks on information to support a point of view, but neglects a broader picture and background.

As has been commented before, there has been a split between the Business and the membership and this is no more evident than in David’s comments. He says “the membership is not self funding”. That is only true while you consider the Business earnings as separate from the membership fee income. They are clearly not unless you want to prove that particular point.

The business would have little or no income without its membership base whether directly or indirectly, therefore the income generated by the whole of BCS is generated by the membership and, therefore, it is self funding. A fact which perhaps David is unaware of is that the Business wing of the BCS was originally formed to generate income to support the membership in its charitable aims. In that respect all the money generated by the BCS belongs to the membership as the original investor. As the membership fees where used to establish the business initially, the membership can be and should be considered to be its shareholders. Any separation of Business and Membership is therefore derogatory to the original intent of the membership.

The business of the BCS should not be considered an entity in its own right. Even if it was to be considered a separate entity, what would be its purpose? In my view the BCS is a Professional Membership organisation that has a Business function to help support its operation, not a Business with membership fees as an income stream.

There is no doubt that David has done a great job in the past but he is now trying to separate the Business and Membership for a reason that is as yet unclear. In discussions with a number of members, even some quite recently joining the BCS, it is clear they think this is not the right thing to do - hence the EGM. Supporters of the EGM also come from the BCS Young Professionals Group (YPG) which is formed from members under the age of 35, so again the comment regarding wanting to live in the past is incorrect and derisory. Perhaps David and the Trustees are more out of touch with the membership than they think?

A recent quote by one of the Trustees to a Member Group further emphasises the desire to split the BCS, the quote regarded "the future of BCS as a 'professional body' in contrast to that in the past as a 'members’ club". Why can it not be both? There are many example of this being the case, for example, the Law Society, IOD, ICA etc.

David also states that, in justifying support for the membership, that budgets for this area have not been cut. Again, this only represents part of the story and is linked to his statement about the membership costing £2m more than it generates in fees. The only member budget I know to be held was that of the Member Groups which is approximately 10% of the BCS total income. This was retained even though those member groups suggested that, in the light of BCS staff pay freezes during the current economic climate, the pain should be shared by all. Further, something else that David neglected to say, is that those member groups under spend by approximately 25% every year. However, this is not the only misleading element of these numbers, assuming an average membership fee of £100 the income generated is £7m plus the £2m overspend gives a £9m spend on membership. I estimate the income of the BCS to be in the region of £20-£25m, where does the other 50%+ of the expenditure go? If there were more openness and transparency, there would be no need for an EGM.

All these statements regarding membership income and expenditure have been around for at least the last 3-4 years and despite repeated requests for the figures behind them that prove the information, none has been provided to the trustees.

David’s response only seems to me to reinforce the need for the EGM and votes of “No confidence” in what he and the Trustee Board are doing to the BCS.

The BCS must become a Professional body but not at the expense of the membership that got it to that point in the first place.

On a final note, there is one further thing that to me even more emphasises the split between the BCS Business and its Membership. Why is there no response to the call for an EGM from the most senior member of the BCS, the President?