Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Disappointed and slightly insulted

SJS has a good post on the latest iteration of the USNI Mission Statement saga worth your time. Give it a read - and the post by the USNI Board of Directors and then come back.

Here is my rather short take on it.

This is too late, too vague, and to be blunt - insulting. It reeks of condescension to the membership, myopic view of the position and role of the USNI, and totally dismissive of the work the present CEO did in the last year.

The harping on the 2009 financial position is equally insulting. Those who, ahem, also have a MBA and who, ahem, have done quite well in the market over the last 24 months, would find this quote especially insulting.
You will recall that economic events of 2008-2009 were difficult for the Institute. Advertising revenues declined, donations shrank, and our endowment lost almost a third of its value. The Institute, led by our senior management team, became cash break-even in 2009 due to dramatic cost controls that remain in effect today.
Dude it is mid-MAR 2011.

Every day there is darkness followed by light; light followed by darkness. If USNI only lost 30% leading in to the bottom in 2009 - BZ to USNI. Many institutions did much worse. As a side-note, I would offer that you need a new institutional investment team - as many others - ahem - actually broke even during that period as they CANSLIM'd there way out of the bear market - but different subject for a different day.

The NASDAQ market bottom in 06 MAR 2009 at ~1,293.85, to ... right now at ~2,661.66 - the market has increased 105%. No one is perfect and it is not fair to use that. So, lets go back to the beginning of 2008.

On 04 JAN 08 the NASDAQ was at 2,504.65. From then to today - the NASDAQ is up 6.3%.

Let's not get distracted by the sparkl'n pebble though - this isn't about money. This is about power and influence. This is also about a Board of Directors behaving in a manner that is insulting to the membership of USNI.

USNI deserves better - we deserve better. For USNI members - vote with the ballot from Proceedings or online - but vote.

If in the end what the Board of Directors wants to do is best for the institution - then by all means we should do it. However, we should do it right. The Board of Directors needs to speak openly, clearly, and directly with the membership - not try to sneak something in under the radar in the middle of the night.

Poor form. We need to start this conversation again, in the open - with enough time for informed decisions.
UPDATE: Off the top rope! Led by Dr. London - the Board of Directors Minority Report is now up with Mark W. Johnson, B.J. Penn signing their name as well.

Notice the difference in tone and focus.
Dear Members and Friends of the United States Naval Institute:

We the undersigned Directors of the Naval Institute write to ask that you vote against the revised Mission Statement for the Institute cited below:

“The U.S. Naval Institute is an independent forum advocating the necessity of global seapower for national security and economic prosperity.”

We emphatically disagree with their imperfectly crafted solution. The reasons are quite simple. The majority has not made the case that changing the mission statement and including the word “advocating” will somehow magically increase our relevance, grow our membership, and make us more economically viable.

In fact, we gain absolutely nothing from a word change to “Advocacy,” that justifies diminishing our image and heritage as the “independent forum” of America’s sea services. This is USNI’s brand. It is USNI’s uniqueness. This is USNI’s “DNA.”
How can USNI be an “Advocate,” yet concurrently promote an “Independent/Intellectual Forum?” It can’t. An “Independent Forum” is where differing views that challenge the conventional wisdom are shared and debated. It’s where dialogue brings new ideas and adds value. Advocacy, by definition, is the need to suppress or ignore dissenting views. The “Independent Forum” lives to seek these competing views.

The Majority’s revised Mission Statement is ill-conceived, will not fix either the relevance nor the finance issue and places the entire 137 years effort by generations of members of this unique professional association at risk, for no perceived gain.

The Board is on the cusp of making an irretrievable error and we respectfully ask that you join us and vote DISAPPROVING the new Mission Statement.


No comments: