#Association Governance
Target:
APMP Board of Directors (BoD)
Region:
GLOBAL

After the members voted NO to the proposed name change, we call for an immediate and complete stop of the entire rebranding initiative and for commissioning an audit on all rebranding related activities, executed by an external, neutral auditing firm.


The APMP Board of Directors (BoD) led by the CEO ('the Leadership Team') has attempted to change APMP’s long-established name, brand, and positioning - the name change undermines the very purpose of the organization and the voluntary work that many of us have done over more than 20 years to promote the profession of proposal management. They did so without a compelling event, without a real need. They did so without having published a transparent and costed business case. They did so with limited or no consultation of Members, Fellows, ATOs and Corporate Members. Even worse, they actively discouraged a democratic discussion by intimidating and coercing Chapter Boards and threatening to hold back membership fees (Chapter rebates) and to dissolve these Chapters if they did not agree to the change. They backed their plan with an ambiguous member survey, and unrepresentative focus groups and then falsely claimed that this had wide support amongst the membership.

They announced this fundamental 'rebrand' through a faceless, poorly crafted 2-minute-video on social media. When members began airing their concerns on the very same platforms, the Leadership Team largely refused to openly address these concerns. In contrast, the CEO openly praised new sponsors and those few supporting statements. When the APMP Leadership Team finally decided to say ‘we hear you’, they then limited transparency by directing objecting voices to an email address.

Finally, after steering the ship into these troubled waters and after having lost control, the APMP Leadership Team was left with little option other than to announce ‘pause’ of the rebrand. APMP’s Chair of the Board, made this announcement alone in a pre-recorded video. The APMP CEO was not present and the rest of the Board kept hiding, too. Then, a ‘Brand Transition Council’ was announced. Even after the members voted "no" to the proposed name change, the Leadership Team wants the Brand Transition Council to come up with suggestions on next steps to find a ‘compromise middle ground solution’. The survey results and the reaction of a large number of members on social media channels should be enough to illustrate to the leadership that this proposed change is ill-considered and ill-judged to say the least.

We have therefore lost all confidence due to the lack of consultation and mishandling of the initiative.

With this Open Letter, we request the APMP Board of Directors (BoD) to completely and immediately stop the rebranding initiative and to commission an independent, external audit on all rebranding related activities.

_____

Below, find a detailed history and rationale:
(documented to the best of our knowledge and belief)

1. Members didn't ask for a rebranding – there is no compelling event.

  • Members didn’t ask for it. Change should be for the benefit of the members.
  • We are still growing very fast, and the global bid and proposal manager community is still much larger than APMP. We won’t be running out of space for growth for a long time!
  • Many members believe that including all marketing, sales and business development professionals would not serve the purpose of the association.
  • Many members fear a dilution of focus.
  • If we want to be more inclusive – we can be inclusive where needed. We don’t need a rebranding to do so.

2. Many members dislike WBP, the overall change, and how it was handled.

  • As opposed to the APMP Leadership Team's claims, many members do not like the new name ‘WBP’.
  • A poll with 380+ votes on LinkedIn by Kathryn Bennett showed 67% NO versus 15% YES (as of June 28).
  • The number of supporting posts, comments and likes on social media opposing the change greatly outnumber those supporting it. We estimate the ratio of 5:1 against the initiative.
  • The 'Thursday Throng' networking event held on June 24 by Pipster
  • Solutions Ltd. showed a similar picture (50+ participants).

  • Most public statements dislike both, the suggested name WBP as well as the fact that the members were not consulted.

3. The Leadership Team did not carry out a broad and proper member consultation – but pretended to have done so.

  • Such a fundamental change of an association needs thorough consultation:
    o They did not adequately consult with members.
    o They did not consult with Fellows.
    o They did not consult with ATOs (except one).
    o They did not adequately consult with Corporate Members.
  • They backed their plan with a dishonestly designed member survey and unrepresentative focus groups, then falsely claimed that there was wide support amongst the membership.
  • The often-cited member survey seemed designed to produce the desired result. This is supported by the coincidence that the survey result used exactly the same term 'Winning Business' as what the Leadership Team had already implemented in previous initiatives: ‘Winning Business Virtual Experience’, ‘Winning Business Ecosystem’, winningthebusiness.org. The survey also specifically did not ask the questions about whether members wanted to change the APMP name, either.
  • The terms of reference and results for the focus groups were not made publicly available. The Leadership Team claimed that there was wide support from the focus groups for the initiative. We have learned since that at least one of the groups rejected the idea completely.
  • Such a fundamental change needs to be put to a vote by the members. APMP is a member association. The Leadership Team failed to acknowledge this.

4. The Leadership Team allegedly handled the change in a forceful, heavy-handed way.

  • Instead of leading a democratic process, the Leadership Team forcefully silenced the Chapter Boards by threatening to hold back Chapter rebates (membership fees) unless Chapter Leaders signed a ratification document confirming agreement with the change. With that, they also had to commit to implementing the change. As a result, Chapter Boards were not allowed to interact with their members or with other Chapters.
  • Once it became clear that some Chapters were not able to sign for legal reasons (such as their bylaws requiring a majority vote during a member meeting), the Leadership Team made it clear that if Chapters did not agree to the rebrand, the Chapters will be dissolved. We have written evidence for this threat.
  • By this action we can conclude that the Leadership Team obviously considers the loss of entire chapters as acceptable ‘collateral damage’.

5. The Leadership Team failed to provide a business case.

  • Although requested repeatedly, the APMP Leadership Team has not been able to present a transparent and costed business case for change:

    1. What are the concrete benefits for the members?
    2. What does the initiative cost?
    3. What are the activities? What is the concrete plan (with timeline)?
    4. What is the expected result in terms of growth (exceeding current growth)?
  • A solid decision on whether to proceed with such an initiative needs answers to those questions. The Leadership Team has failed to deliver.

6. The Leadership Team failed to handle the massive resistance on social media.

  • After having failed to provide a suitable forum to the members and once the discussion emerged on LinkedIn, the Leadership Team largely refused to actively engage in any public discussions with those who opposed the change.
  • In contrast, the CEO openly praised new sponsors and only the statements supporting the rebrand.
  • When the APMP Leadership Team decided to say ‘we hear you’ they then limited transparency by directing objecting voices to an email address.
  • Given the quantity of objections being posted on social media, the APMP Leadership Team was left with little option other than to announce a ‘pause’ on the rebrand.

7. Members say NO. But it seems the Leadership Team still wants to go ahead, just with some tweaks.

  • They quickly initiated another ambiguous survey asking whether 'APMP should consider a name change'. However, many members did not receive it, and it took over a week to publish the results of this 1-question survey (without releasing the details, though).
  • The majority of 2,100 respondents do not want to change the name of the association.
  • The Leadership Team still wants the hand-picked “Brand Transition Council” to find a ‘compromise middle ground solution’ and to provide next steps. This suggests the Leadership Team wants to somehow continue with the rebrand plan rather than stopping the initiative.

Summary:
With the survey’s NO the issue is not resolved. As association members we are owed answers to how it got to this point and how they have spent our money in our name.


The Committee to SAVE APMP (in alphabetical order):

Melinda Allison, CP APMP, USA
Sherry Bach, CF APMP, USA
Jon Bental, CP APMP, United Kingdom
Rachel Bracken, CP APMP, USA
Richard Buijs, CPP APMP Fellow, Co-Founder and former Chair of APMP NL, Netherlands
Larissa Cornelius, CPP APMP, Chapter Chair APMP ZA, South Africa
Lauren Daitz, CF APMP, USA
Robin Davis, CF APMP Fellow, Chapter Chair of Rhythm & Harmony Chapter, USA
Julie Dyer, Vice Chair of PNW Chapter, former Chair of PNW Chapter, CF APMP, USA
Jeff Elkins, CF APMP, USA
Eric Gregory, CPP APMP Fellow, USA
Andy Haigh, CPP APMP, United Kingdom
Alan Howard, CPP APMP, United Kingdom
Alison Joiner, USA
Gökçeçiçek Kalayci, CP. APMP, Belgium
Chris Kaelin, CPP APMP Fellow, Co-Founder and former Chair of DACH Chapter, Switzerland
Alison Keogh, CP APMP, United Kingdom
Sandra Kerrigan, CF APMP, Director of Proposal Development, USA
Kai Krellenberg, CP APMP, former APMP DACH Chapter Board Member, Germany
Meghann Lewis, CPP APMP, Florida Sunshine Chapter Chair, USA
Peter Lobl, CPP APMP, United Kingdom
Andrew Loveridge, CPP APMP, United Kingdom
Jennifer Mosier, Florida Sunshine Chapter Board Member, CF APMP, USA
Thomas Moritzer, CP APMP, APMP DACH Chapter Board Member, Germany
David Nealey, Ph D., USA
Bobbie O'Brien, CF APMP Fellow, founding member & Chair/Co-Chair of Liberty Chapter, USA
Vikki Ogden, CP APMP, United Kingdom
Janneke Orriens, CPP APMP Fellow, Co-Founder and former Chair of APMP NL, Netherlands
Ali Paskun, CF APMP, USA
Klaus Pohlmann, CF APMP Fellow, form APMP DACH Chair, Germany
Kim Ruff, CP APMP, VP and Membership Chair, APMP Liberty Chapter, USA
Chelsea Schalton, CP APMP, USA
David L. Seibert, President, The Seibert Group, Inc., Author, United States
Suzanne Shields, CPP APMP, United Kingdom
Stephen Sheiko, CP APMP, USA
Angie Simones Pryor, CF APMP, USA
James Noel Smith, Australia
Amy Stourac, CF APMP, USA
Erich Sutera, CP APMP, Bid Manager, Austria
Kirsten Sutter, CF APMP, USA
Philip Templin, CPP APMP, USA
Norbert Thiemermann, CP APMP, APMP DACH Chapter Board Member, Germany
Vatis Tsague, CP APMP, Germany
David Warley, CPP APMP Fellow, United Kingdom
Chris Whyatt, CPP APMP Fellow, Co-Founder APMP UK, United Kingdom

Note: We are constantly updating the list of Committee Members. Let us know if you want to support us, too: save.apmp@gmail.com.


WITH THIS OPEN LETTER, WE REQUEST THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS TO:

  1. call for an immediate and complete stop of the entire rebranding initiative for at least 1 year.

  2. commission an audit on all rebranding related activities.The audit shall:

    • be executed by an external, neutral auditing firm, selected, tasked and monitored by the Brand Transition Council.

    • examine the way the rebranding initiative was managed (including all decisions, rationale, communication processes, business case, timeline, mistakes etc.) in the context of member association governance

    • make recommendations regarding any improvements in governance (such as the establishment of a Fellows advisory council to preempt poor management and internal communications practices that have led us to this point)

    • be published to all members by Oct 1st, 2021

  3. introduce an annual public survey of member confidence

PLEASE HELP US IN THIS IMPORTANT

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The Call to stop rebranding and to commission an external audit petition to APMP Board of Directors (BoD) was written by Committee to SAVE APMP and is in the category Association Governance at GoPetition.