Close-Up: Why it is time for a new approach from the IPA

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 28 January 2011 12:00AM

The Beta founding partner Garry Lace offers the IPA's incoming president, Nicola Mendelsohn, a few tips for change.

Dear Nicola,

Congratulations on being chosen for the IPA presidency. It's a coup for our industry, it's a role you were born to do and I suspect you will be one of the best we've had. You deserve it too.

I know that you will be seeking opinion from all quarters over the coming weeks on how to make a difference but just in case you don't get round here for a cup of tea, I've got a couple of things to throw into the mix.

It's been a long time coming but you should be rightly proud of becoming the IPA's first female president. You need to be bold and brave and you need to create lasting change within an organisation still too far removed from its membership.

The first thing you should do is to remove everyone on the IPA council. The current group represents some of the finest, most brilliant people in our business but the average age of the group is probably about 20 years too high. The world is putting power into the hands of younger and younger people and our industry needs to do the same. I'd suggest that, having removed the Council, you then invite each and every one of them to nominate the most talented person under the age of 28 in their organisation and put them on the council instead.

The first task for your new group will be to work out how you and the IPA can connect to the young people in our industry since they represent the best chance we have of defining an interesting future for our wider business. It would represent the single biggest shift in focus that the IPA has seen for a long time and it would set a very vibrant course for your presidency. And I suspect the council meetings would be more fun too.

Second, in the spirit of lasting change, I think it's crucial to move towards a more transparent and open way of operating, particularly when it comes to the appointment of your successor. It's time to rip up the "rule book" and embrace a radically new way of doing things. Allow people to put their name forward from any discipline and any level to go into a ballot of your entire membership.

You should then adopt a Eurovision-style voting procedure in which each member agency announces in a live webcast the name of the people that they have voted in reverse order. And, like the Eurovision contest, you adopt a marking system that allows points for places. It is collaborative, it will be engaging, our industry will get behind it and whomever is chosen will have the support of the entire body of people that they are supposed to represent.

It's different but it needs to happen. How many people were involved in the decision to appoint you as a percentage of the people that work in our business? As it happens, they made a brilliant call but it still feels like a process conceived in the RAC Club by men over the age of 60 about 30 years ago, and our industry is all the worse for it. You can change it and you should.

So, there you are. Some ideas from me to you. If nothing else, they may prompt some interesting debate in the months leading up to April. I offer them up because I think change is required. And I know you'll laugh given that they've come from me.

You can pop round for that cup of tea anytime you like. Just bring a client with you.

Lots of love, Garry.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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