Sunday, 17 May 2015

All about Council

19 April 2015

I decide to prepare some guidelines for new Council members.  In the past, when you joined Council, it all came as a nasty shock. 

So I start writing.  First I explain about CIPA’s Governance Structure and how Council fits into it; I do not mention square pegs and round holes although I am tempted to.  Then I explain how Council meetings work, which they don’t, usually, so I have to make a lot of this up.  Finally I explain what is expected of Council members.  This bit is cribbed from what I have heard Mr Davies say he would like Council members to do.  I might have to add a glossary for some of the terms he uses, because they are not normally in a patent attorney’s vocabulary.

I include guidance on reclaiming expenses (primarily, don’t try anything clever because the IGC will see straight through it) and on CIPA’s current biscuit policy.  Then I explain about Council being transparent and accountable, especially to its own members, which is why we always get shown the agenda a day or so in advance and not just at the meeting like on some of the committees, and we always get shown the minutes to make sure they say what we thought we’d said and not what other people heard, and we sometimes get shown the papers in case we want to understand what we’re making decisions about although clearly this bit is optional because as all good meeting attendees know, a decision is best made on the day once you know how your arch-enemy is going to vote.

In the bit about the Governance Structure, I get a bit fancy-pantsy and lyrical and talk about Council being the brain and conscience of the Institute and the committees and staff being its eyes and ears and limbs.  This is stretching a metaphor, I know, because if Council really were a brain then all the psychotherapists in the world wouldn’t know what to do with it, but I am relying on the Poetic Licence defence.

The EyePeePee, who is a bit soft like that, says he would like to see a reference to the Institute’s heart.  Tumbleweed drifts through our inboxes.  Eventually I say Perhaps the heart of CIPA is its members?  I say this because the brain cannot function without the heart but the heart can keep beating long after the brain has departed the real world, and this seems entirely appropriate in the context.  Mr Davies asks Which bit of the Institute is the liver?, and I know he has asked this because the liver produces bile but I refuse to rise to the bait.  I am not going to go through Gray’s Anatomy assigning organs to the various parts of CIPA; that way would surely lie disaster.  Although I can think of an obvious medical metaphor for the Vice-President who got in by accident and is waiting to be found out.

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