28 March 2020
Nigel - Thanks for your question and for the all work you and Congress are doing. I realise that as Chair you will have a well informed view on both these questions. So it is with due deference that I offer my view.
I think the the Congress report card after the first year or so is very encouraging and there has obviously been a lot of hard work and commitment by a lot of people. The lively debate you refer to elsewhere on Interface, on the Code of conduct is clear evidence that Congress is delivering on its principal purpose to provide review, comment and constructive challenge to the BoT on behalf of the members. So it is working! I also think that at the start of any new process it is natural that there will be early teething problems that need addressing. I believe you have clear view of what needs addressing (participation etc) and are doing so.
To address your second question, where would I focus to develop the relationship between Congress and the BoT?
This is clearly one of the most important focus areas for the President; whose stated role is to lead the Board of Trustees and ensure the IChemE strategy and policy reflects its aim to be an Institution led by members, supporting members and serving society.
I would focus on two things. Firstly, making the relationship more effective and secondly, if the primary role of the BoT is the governance of the IChemE, I would seek to foster a role for Innovation in Congress.
What specifically would I do to make the relationship more effective? First, the regulations make clear the role of the BoT and Congress as it relates to key decisions on IChemE strategy, policy and other ‘key’ matters. The BoT holds the ‘D’ (decision rights) and Congress holds the ‘I’ (input rights). In organisations where the decision making process, for a specific group of decisions, is explicit and clearly defined it becomes possible for the process to be optimised to meet the purpose of the organisation. This works very effectively when it is supported by the right culture, which needs to be aligned to the aims of the organisation. So I would invest in establishing the right culture specifically for the decision making interactions between the BoT and Congress.
I would also work hard on further defining the ‘I’ for Congress. Whilst it stands for Input into the work of the BoT it also needs to stand for Innovation if we are to truly be a member led Institution. This would need shaping and boundaries establishing to allow experimentation to see what ideas will work but it will bring to life ‘Member led’.
So Nigel, a bit long winded but that is what I would do.