Still absorbing this one....
So the ex-CEO gets a non-CEO job which has the most important operational responsibilities and the current CEO has their responsibilities re-defined not to include those areas.
Stripy ones need to face the bandstand, plain ones over by the stern, blue ones nearest the shuffleboard, and just fold up the spotted ones.
"It will also allow the Board to step back from day-to-day operations, and focus on strategy, effective governance and oversight."
This is good. No Board should be involved in the day to day operations.
I'm paying my fees, shutting my eyes, putting my fingers in my ears and hoping they'll let us know when all this crap is over.
Some thoughts via twitter: https://twitter.com/johnrobeds/status/1331501196251705344
How many of the current board have been elected and how many are co-opted.
If it's a board that was fully elected by the membership I have no problems with this change, but, there will always be disquiet if this isn't the case.
There were only four members of the Board elected in contested positions by the membership at an AGM: the President and the three Nominated Directors (elections required as the Nominations Committee found more than one applicant per post that met the criteria). Of all the resignations only one of these four elected Directors has resigned (citing cyber bullying on Social Media). Currently the Board is three members below the full number of twelve (with only one co-opted member) with recruitment of those three, a new Chair and two new Independent Directors, in progress.
Dave, as CEO, was the only paid Director the rest are volunteers who have had to put in way more hours than they expected when recruited, under intense pressure due to covid impacts on finances and work areas, intense scrutiny since the resignations in July, and facing some seriously nasty commentary since July.
> I'm paying my fees, shutting my eyes, putting my fingers in my ears and hoping they'll let us know when all this crap is over.
Are you sure that it wouldn't be better to put underpants on your head and pencils up your nose ?
In reply to spenser:
From what I've heard there are a few people (possibly including those you mention) who, if their behaviour towards the BMC President was seen by the general climbing public would get a sound thrashing - verbally if nothing else. They have been vile, and I'm confident that their behaviour would have been very different had the President been a man. They are negative influences on the BMC and I would be very happy to stand at the door to future meetings and (vigorously) bar them entry. I'd do it for free.
I've dropped you an email at your kinder guide email address (not sure if that's current) on this subject.
Am horrified. It seems as though there's a cadre of very small-minded people indeed. If they can't behave amicably, they shouldn't be there.
> Line managing the previous CEO will definitely need a firm hand and Dave will need to bite his tongue a bit to make the arrangement work (purely by virtue of having been in the position for 20 years it will be difficult to see something done differently, hopefully this has been considered in the decision to move to this arrangement).
All good points. It’s an awkward and unusual arrangement but Dave’s knowledge, history, connections, easy mannered diplomatic style and experience are invaluable in access and so he is someone that ideally should be retained by the BMC particularly with the challenges to access currently presented by the pandemic. A case of not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Hopefully he can also lend advice and guidance to a receptive incoming CEO regarding people, partner organisations and issues acting as a kind of consigliere 😎.There’s a lot of history there.
Having worked directly for Dave I’m fairly confident this is all possible and that he won’t brief against or otherwise undermine a new CEO. Hope so anyway. Ive not always called it right.
One note of caution. I do think that Access and Conservation should remains integrated with the rest of the BMC office so there is one agenda, joined up thinking and one voice. There are already silo type mentalities in the office (previously highlighted by external consultants) that need breaking down rather than reinforcing and there is a risk with this move that Access and Conservation could become a law unto itself and resistant to modernising going on elsewhere at the BMC.
> They are negative influences on the BMC and I would be very happy to stand at the door to future meetings and (vigorously) bar them entry. I'd do it for free.
I don’t think having a vigilante bouncer is a positive step. It’s down to the Chair and to a certain extent the attendees to moderate individual behaviour at a meeting.
Let members have their say ungagged and let the audience form its view. It might not be pretty at times but that’s democratic politics for you.
Over the years I’ve seen many “not for profit” organisations (both at national and local level) lose the plot and rip themselves apart through internal infighting/politics. Like many of you I’ve watched the BMC saga with a heavy heart. Whilst they are focusing inwardly they cannot perform effectively.
I joined the BMC forty years ago. I had two reasons. These were Alpine mountaineering insurance and maintaining access to crags. I’m not particularly in any of its other activities.
The insurance is carried out by professionals. I’ve recently had a long conversation with our insurer (about Covid 19 implications) and I’m convinced that the service will continue to be a good value for money service.
Maintaining access to crags is led up the local passionate representatives who are by and large not embroiled in the central politics. Again a good value service.
On that basis I will continue to remain a member.
> Let members have their say ungagged and let the audience form its view. It might not be pretty at times but that’s democratic politics for you.
Freedom of speech is one thing; abuse is quite another. If people are abusive, they should be asked to leave. If they don't leave, they should be thrown out and banned from ever coming back.
For sure. But I don’t recall anything said at any of the meetings that I’ve attended that constitutes abuse.
Dennis said the President was responsible for the most shameful actions in leadership in the history of the BMC. Jim accused the President of being a puppet. Others accused the President of lying. Anyone normal saying such things would have clear undisputable proof. Prior to the meeting other false accusations were written down on social media: the President Chair and CEO were in cahoots to thwart ODG; the whole Board were completely unqualified to act as Directors (except the CEO); a Director was lying about professional qualifications. That's just this summer's political explosion... it was arguably worse under the Motion of no Confidence and the Options kerfuffle when fraud accusations and legal threats against key BMC volunteers and staff were flying about behind the scenes and undemocratic secret distribution of dishonest information was occurring (as outed in detail here and on UKB). All the points of political concerns that led to such nasty accusations and behaviours could have been dealt with robust but respectful questioning.
This is a good bit beyond politics, it's vicious insults, sometimes plain lies and blatantly undemocratic behaviour. It's been happening for over 4 years now and it needs to stop. Most of those involved are part of a tiny dissafected minority who clearly don't give a shit about the disruption it all causes to an organisation who's purpose is to do good work on behalf of all climbers and hillwalkers. In democratic terms the philosophy of the BMC 30 in particular has been shown to be incompatible with the vast majority of members' views (as numerous votes on recent motions have proved).
The Board are overall financial and strategic custodians of the BMC. Some relationships clearly broke down around July, after one of the most stressful periods in history for such an executive, but no financial or strategic impropriety has been evidenced. The grapevine seems to indicate the Board with help from 3 observers (Rab, Louise and Colin) has been functioning as it should again, since the start of the autumn.
Fortunately the vast majority of work that is important to members and the wider mountain community is not done on the Board, but by staff, majority volunteer specialist committees and hundreds of local volunteers (including the key access teams). Unless the organisation gets stuck obsessing about the problems this summer (and before) the Board problems will cause barely a blip in the real work of the organisation. If these obsessions do continue, at some point, morale for some of these key people will start to give up. I'm particularly worried about some paid staff and National Councilors right now; and knock-on effects to partner organisations.
You are again over-egging and taking things out of context to characterise things as abuse for your own purposes. Some of what you state you’ve have blown out of proportion, some of the claims are true, some of it was always mooted as speculation, some just rhetoric and some of it is just criticism and some unjust criticism but no more than that.
Nothing I heard constituted abuse.
I’m going to leave it that not least because the Board took the trouble to make contact to say they are keen not to re-hash this stuff on here and I said I am more than happy to comply.
Perhaps you should consider that you’d better support the BMC and the President by doing much the same.
I thought this summers “political explosion” was pretty effective. The departure of a useless director, the accelerated departure of a failed chair, the introduction of a robust recruitment process for Board positions, the employment of a PR consultant. I could go on.....
Your forced resignation.............
Soon as I see the acronym “CEO” I switch off. Decades ago an old mate (who was a paint sales rep) pointed out to me that in his industry, and many others, there’s a permanently circulating population of people with paunches and shiny suits , all called CEO. They arrive, they impose their big idea (usually with zero social skills or actual leadership skills), cause chaos, then move on within 18 months, just before they get found out.
In 30 years since, I’ve never seen anything to disprove that.
Sadly, I share your opinion (though suspect the BMC CEO had it foisted upon him). Normal company - Managing Director. Non-commerical organisation - Director-General. Simple stuff. But then CEO arrived like an ugly Americanism. To me it's like dragging your fingernails across a blackboard.
I call the 18 month tenure (whether Chairman, Managing Director, CEO or anything else) 'ice flow managment'. As you rightly say, they arrive, have a big idea which almost always involves a) spending shit loads of money on something that's a complete non-starter or b) (much safer) cost-reduction. As the old axiom goes, cost walks on two legs. You get rid of people - often critical to the organisation - wrecking morale in the process. But the P & L looks great. You step off the ice-flow and head for the next ice-flow. Of course, in years to come, the first ice-flow sinks because the organisation has lost key expertise. But hey, everything looked good on your watch.
However these considerations surely cannot be levelled at the present BMC CEO, who's been there for some two decades and, by all accounts, has done his level best. That seems to me to merit him a degree of respect far beyond most CEOs.
> However these considerations surely cannot be levelled at the present BMC CEO, who's been there for some two decades and, by all accounts, has done his level best.
And has no paunch, nor shiny suit that I’ve ever seen!
You step off the ice-flow and head for the next ice-flow.
£100k for the shiny suited new CEO and his 5 series, say £25k each for the recruitment and PR consultants, £50k this year for the interim executive.
Subs income likely to continue to drop well into next year, insurance sales almost non-existent and Sport England funding at risk due to Government cuts to pay for COVID.
To mask all this watch out for a forecast that projects a massive increase in membership numbers.
Good that the Board now has plenty of time to think about strategy and direction and not have to trouble themselves with this boring finance stuff.
Apologies, Jim. Shows how much I (don't) know about these things!
Lady Astor comes to mind. Re The Titanic, "I know I asked for ice - but this is ridiculous..."
A lot of members will be watching finances very carefully so you views on CEO costs are very unlikely. Covid wasn't an invention of the Board. What happened to the finance and audit committee back in the spring was out-of-order but your childish throwing of pram toys has completely distracted from that real issue.
Proposals for growth are a potential stressor but I think the membership will be OK with it as long as it is within those whom the majority of members regard as sharing BMC values. The new membership packages seem to be not causing big concerns and its no secret the biggest potential growth market in income terms is experienced hillwalkers and scramblers with access and conservation concerns.
Everything I said about the meeting and earlier posts is verifiable and I didn't even comment on the impact of the tone of those BMC 30 critics in that meeting had on some ordinary members. 'Who on earth were those misogynistic dinosaurs?' was one of the counter views expressed for what you regard as OK (one that can at least be expressed here under UKC site rules).
I' m concerned to hear about 'secret deals' made with some on the Board, that's part of what went wrong before: a lack of respect by some for Nolan governance principles, including breaches of collective responsibility, failures on timely neccesary openess and transparency on things like Board minutes, and for inappropriate breaches of confidentiality (like public negative opinions about staff). My concerns as a very well informed member have always been that the BMC is held to account in an honest way and unfair critical statements and behaviours are exposed with hard facts.
A useful blog on things to consider with Nolan in times of covid:
I'm probably going to regret this, but from your position of lofty omniscience, how should the perfect BMC be managed and financed?
"The insurance is carried out by professionals. I’ve recently had a long conversation with our insurer (about Covid 19 implications) and I’m convinced that the service will continue to be a good value for money service.
Maintaining access to crags is led up the local passionate representatives who are by and large not embroiled in the central politics. Again a good value service."
Too right. It's often forgotten that the 'foorsoldiers' are often the ones who actually keep an organisation functioning!
> And has no paunch, nor shiny suit that I’ve ever seen!
He's got shiny waterproofs!
"there is a risk with this move that Access and Conservation could become a law unto itself and resistant to modernising going on elsewhere at the BMC."
I really don't see that, Simon. ACE had always been a central issue for the membership. It is actually a pretty small 'departnent' within the BMC compared to others and the staff (Rob, Elfyn and Cath) seem pretty focussed and good value.
Dave Turnbull can only strengthen that team and maybe lead a focus on campaigns that are relevant to grassroots members.
I would narrow it further to Access as being ‘the’ most important issue for many if not most members, myself included. However, big decisions should not be made unilaterally by the Access team.
As an example my understanding (correct me if wrong) was that the “Hills to Oceans” campaign was sprung on NC as a fait accompli.
Personally I would have favoured building on the success of Mend our Mountains with a Mend our Mountains 2 or similar.
> As an example my understanding (correct me if wrong) was that the “Hills to Oceans” campaign was sprung on NC as a fait accompli.
Sprung on NC as a fair accompli? That's pretty normal now, surely? I'd be more surprised if it were sprung on the Board!
> Personally I would have favoured building on the success of Mend our Mountains with a Mend our Mountains 2 or similar.
Personally I'd prefer campaigns with more member involvement rather than, 'put your hands in your pockets' fund raisers.
I realise it's good for 'profile' to be able to show off campaigning to partners and funders but I'd welcome more grassroots initiatives as being the way to get members to actually identify with the BMC. Adopt-a-crag; tree planting; path repair; wall repair courses; community debolting.... Stuff like that. That's just me though.
P.S. A quarries working group liaising with extraction companies, local authorities and government to get 'end of life' quarries left as potential leisure and nature resources?
It's difficult to get effective chairs, and people don't like to make a fuss. That is what people like those mentioned in the OP rely on. I think they should absolutely be barred because they don't care about the BMC or climbing, they just want to cause trouble.
> Personally I would have favoured building on the success of Mend our Mountains with a Mend our Mountains 2 or similar.
You mean a bit like the Mend Our Mountains 2 campaign that raised almost £1million in 2019?... https://thebmc.co.uk/climbing-higher-a-look-back-at-a-massive-year-for-mend-our-mountains
You can still donate to the BMC Access and Conservation Trust (ACT) here: https://www.thebmc.co.uk/donate-to-act?s=2
Ah yes 🤦🏻. Well done. MoM 3 I should have said.
You might also have said Hills to Oceans was part of the climate project (which wasn't sprung on Council). I remember Peter Judd (Hill Walking Committee chair and Council member), amongst others, speaking at ShAFF in the free launch event, well over a year ago.
Hills to Oceans is still running for those who want to organise local clean-ups:
Maybe you just need to be a bit more sceptical of some of those off-the-record conversations (that under good governance shouldn't be happening) when searching for dirt.
As for a critic forgetting the second phase of Mend our Mountains, the biggest fundraiser the BMC has ever run... good grief.
What did you expect when you accused all the volunteers on the Board of being incompetent and unqualified for their roles, when the problem you and others on the committee raised was really an issue with one Director, and their interaction with the Chair/Board, just as covid took off? How do your actions align with Nolan principles?
> My concerns as a very well informed member have always been that the BMC is held to account in an honest way and unfair critical statements and behaviours are exposed with hard facts.
I don't disagree. There have been failings across the BMC at a collective and individual level, and very few, if any, involved in all this have their hands entirely clean. There have been agendas, ego, politics, insulting behaviour and poor actions and that does include some commentators on this thread (or referred to), some of whom are being attacked, and some of whom are being defended.
There's also been things that have stepped over the line, and it's right that you and others have called them out. I listened to some of the open forum from a Covid addled sofa and it brought out some of the best and worst of the BMC.
The minutes of various meetings and task and finish groups point to various failings against those Nolan principles from individuals, and collectively.
Since leaving the Board I'm not privy to all the facts as they are not public, but I have read the minutes of various meetings and can see some issues on record (from: https://www.thebmc.co.uk/media/files/National%20Council/Minutes%20of%20National%20Council%20Review%20Meeting%20held%20by%20webinar%20on%20160920%20and%20240920.pdf).
I therefore trust that these have a basis in fact:
"The Council felt that the President did not act in the open, transparent and honest way that is necessary to ensure the mutual trust between the Council and the President. We believe that the President now recognises this fact and we hope that she will work with Council to ensure that the mutual trust necessary is re-established going forwards."
"The sharing of the letter, which was caveated “CONFIDENTIAL REPORT TO NATIONAL COUNCIL - NOT TO BE SHARED OUTSIDE OF THE GROUP” with a member of staff (the Company Secretary) and an external organisation without the agreement of the author or Council was wholly inappropriate."
"The CNDs did not act in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to inform the Council of the issues and problems within the Board."
"While it was reasonable for Board members to believe a Formal Grievance was raised, if this was the case then the processes in the Governance Manual and timelines were not followed."
"The Council were particularly concerned that advice sought unilaterally by a single non-executive Director has bound, and in some people's eyes tainted, the whole Board."
"The formal communications to the Council, particularly in the Board Summaries, Chair and CEO Reports, did not meet the standards of openness and transparency required by the MOU."
"Council recognises the excellent work the President does as an ambassador for the BMC and her commitment to the organisation. It remains supportive of the President in role until the end of her term in June 2021."
The Board and NC are clearly trying to move on from this and are trying to make their actions meet their verbal commitments. There is recognition that change is needed.
An "a muerte" defence/offence is not helping the BMC move on. Yes BMC does good things and continues to. The staff are holding the thing together in difficult circumstances (as well as some gargantuan commitments from volunteers), but it does have a difficult post-covid road to travel to really get motoring again.
Personally, I don't think that all the decisions that have been taken in recent months are all the correct ones, but I do think the BMC needs a clean break. That will require some fresh leadership, and the BMC is making some headway toward that with a new CEO, a new Chair, and new independent directors being recruited. There will be a new Members' Council replacing National Council and potentially new roles there. In some respects it had to go through some of this pain, but I think we can all agree that it hasn't always handled it well, neither quickly enough nor transparently enough.
The AGM next year should be a turning point, providing the BMC is not continued to be driven to death by a thousand governance cuts until then.
It does need good people recruited and retained, and the BMC given the opportunity to get on with doing the right thing and rebuilding trust.
I agree there have been lots of faults on all sides. On that subject I'm still particularly annoyed with your self publicised breaches of Board collective responsibility, when voting on Board majority supported motions at an AGM (which in governance terms was up with the worst I've seen); and your public view on the 2018 accounts which irrespective of who signed them was clearly a collective Board failure to set up proper processes under the new BMC structures. Resigning from the chair of ODG didn't help the BMC much either. So I'm sorry if I'm a bit cynical about taking lessons on governance and on supporting the BMC from you, speaking as someone who strongly supported you until 2019.
I'm way too conflicted to talk publicly on those minuted NC criticisms of the President (and still have to look into a few known unknowns). However, the President took it on the chin in public and supported the recommendations. I'll share a beer with you one day and be clear why I think all of them came from misunderstandings, poor governance training and collective failure. I've publicly said here before that I feel all the Board were guilty of allowing things to break down. I agree with you about slow production of minutes (with the proviso that these meetings were way more often than normal, taking place in very difficult times, were affected by the Chair resignation and furlough of staff). I'm also pissed off with the Board given the disruption it has caused to my family life and to the organisation I care about. The NC plans to help the Board after the July resignations were excellent in my view and seem to have worked so far.
I will also be clear I'm not going to stop challenging false information about the BMC and exposing undeclared conflicts of interest of disrespectful critics. This is nothing like "a muerte" attack/defense, it's about facing real issues, false testimony, governance breaches, dirty politics and seriously bad behaviour. I've done this in my areas of serious interest and significant responsibility all my adult life and see no reason to change now (its why I supported you in the first place as I cared about what you said then, and might again if you ever get round to apologising for the issues above). I certainly won't support cosy private deals about being quiet on BMC matters on a tit-for-tat basis.
15-year-old French climber Oriane Bertone has climbed Super Tanker (Font 8B+) at Cuvier Rempart in Fontainebleau, France.