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What did we learn?

Submitted by: MikeC (Admin) on 14-Mar-08 05:24:31 PM

Since publishing that Farewell to the Institute of Domestic Energy Assessors blog post last week, I've been inundated with emails and PMs - some of which came from surprising corners of the industry. Of all the comments in that post, two took exception (none privately).

Immediately after the Chief Executive of the Institute of Domestic Energy Assessors left comments on the blog-post, my forum access to the IDEA site was downgraded to (I assume) student. I'm not going to argue about that since I'm not a full member, nor did I ask to be. But don't read that as some administrative accident, either: I was invited by the Chief Exec to join the forum and was told I would have full member access.

With that in mind - and since the dust has settled since the last blog-post - I thought I'd address some of the Chief Exec's comments to see if we've learnt anything. Be warned, this is not my proudest post on here.

Anonymous posts

The Chief Exec said:

As per usual all "anti IDEA" replies are anonymous, presumably made from the usual suspects who hide behind nicknames on the HI Forum too.

Or maybe they were written by IDEA members fearful of suffering the same fate as Neil Kurz - and now myself - has? As expressed by one of the commentators:

it is sad that i don't feel i can give my name because i too am afraid of getting banned if i post these thoughts on the IDEA forum.

This view was also held in several messages I've since received too.

You're either with us, or against us

What's all this "anti IDEA" stuff? Because one questions certain policies, one must therefore be completely against IDEA?!

A similar theme is evident in replies made by the Chief Exec to those who questioned the proposals in the IDEA forum too.

I think the fact that people feel they must post anonymously - yet still remain IDEA members - is perhaps symptomatic of wanting the leadership to listen, without themselves feeling ostracised.

Addressing the commercialisation of the IDEA

The whole thrust of that blog-post was centred around the commercial direction the IDEA is headed. The Chief Exec justified it thus:

It is perfectly feasible for IDEA to run both the commercial aspects of the institute in tandem with the members services, liasing with Govt, etc. Isn't that what other established institutes do all the time now anyway? Maybe not the best one to chose given their recent track record, but look at RICS for example.

Which, I'll be honest, caused me to laugh. Apart from offering absolutely no explanation of how the IDEA Mission Statement and Objectives meshes with dabbling and competing in the very same marketplace DEAs serve... RICS?!

Well, no: let's not look at that 100+ year old international institute which has a deeply embedded cultural - and historical - understanding of buildings, and possessing the words 'Chartered Surveyors', after the words, 'Royal Institute', in its title.

IDEA was setup to represent Domestic Energy Assessors, regardless for whom they work. RICS is not an umbrella organisation setup to represent DEAs - only those it accredits.

Leave me alone; pick on them

The CEO, clearly feeling the need to steer locked-on missiles elsewhere, releases the flares and chaff:

Can I remind you that IDEA currently doesn't charge membership fees, yet look at all we have achieved in just 6 months. By comparison NARHI and IHI both do charge membership subs, but what do their members actually get for their money? Not a lot that I can see.


Such a dangerous tactic: what if there are folk who are not impressed with what has been achieved? Bag of worms, and nothing to do with the topic in-hand.


Here, the membership learns - via this blog, of all places - how the IDEA is funding its AHIPP membership:

You insinuate that IDEA has spent several thousand pounds joining AHIPP. That is simply untrue. If you had cared to ask me, instead of jumping to conclusions then including it in your "article" like some red top journalist, I could have told you that our membership costs £200pm which is payable by direct debit. This cost is easily covered by the monies generated by our hugely successful HIP IDEA product; which I recall you were equally vocal and sceptical about when we launched that too.

Lots of sentences to answer a simple question, and a splitting of hairs too: in the annual accounts it will read the same on the bottom line. But anyway, what is being revealed here is that Hip2Go pay the IDEA £5 for each HIP referred, which then sails through to the AHIPP each month.

I don't know why Hip2Go don't just pay the AHIPP themselves! (Which reminds me: why on earth is the IDEA a member of AHIPP anyway? Where their interests are shared, surely they would/should work together anyway? It's not like the AHIPP is an IDEA member is it? ( free to join too!))

Who owns/controls the IDEA?

For the sake of shorthand, if we assume that Hip2Go effectively pay for AHIPP membership, what else is at risk should commercial entities move on? 

Take away the IDEA' website's, what is left? How would it run?

(Blue New Media are a marketing-cum-website design agency who used to (or continues to) do work for HES, founding sponsor of the IDEA)

Who pays (and holds the contracts) for the hosting of these sites? If it's not the IDEA then all member details are at risk too.

Moving along - I'm going to skip the next paragraph (which just goes on about the info AHIPP provide) and jump to the one and a bit paragraphs which, although typical, saddens me nonetheless.

It's the start of the good ole' bait and switch tactic.

Bait and switch

It seems to me Mike that you simply like to knock or question everything we do or try to achieve yet you can offer no viable alternative. Talk is cheap and there is certainly lots of cheap talk on here. I am one of the VERY few individuals who have eminated from these HI forums who has actually got off his backside and TAKEN ACTION and done something positive to help DEAs & HI's.

By the tone and content of some of your blog postings I really am beginning to question just what your true agenda is now Mike.

The reader will note, I hope, that throughout the Farewell to the Institute of Domestic Energy Assessors post, I referred only to the IDEA as an entity, never resorting to character-assassination or calling-out names... because it is about the institute-as-an-entity!

But I shouldn't be surprised: Jim Gillespie employs this tactic when in defence-mode: partially answer a question, then attempt to speculatively plant a seed of doubt in the readers' mind by leading the discussion into the personal motivations of those who dare question.

It's more chaff and flares... or bait and switch.

Anyone looking through this site will find numerous references to both the Institute of Domestic Energy Assessors and Jim Gillespie. Jim's been on the podcast three times - once as the Chief Exec of IDEA. I've pimped a good many CPD courses held in its name, and just the other week, it's conference too (for which Jim privately gave thanks)... all done without prompting.

All done because they are things DEAs might appreciate knowing.

As for my "agenda", well, it's obvious innit: to trash the IDEA at every opportunity and have every citizen burn its flag in the streets, clearly.

This site is now over a year old; has over 200 pages of personally crafted content; has an 'About' page; and over 22 hours of podcasts. Some "hidden agenda".

The remaining paragraphs of Jim's comment is devoted to exploiting free advertising space so I think we can safely move on as there is clearly no attempt to substantiate the IDEA' proposed direction.


So if we strip out the protestations, personal attacks, self-promotion and marketing, we have learnt just one thing: how the IDEA funds its AHIPP membership.

Draw your own conclusions.

Not speaking to you anymore

Oh, and one other thing: in his second comment the Chief Exec said he would no longer post here. So that's two outlets (not including individuals) he has decided to self-censor: here, and the Home Inspector Forum (HIF); Both are sites that proved instrumental in launching the IDEA (particularly the HIF).

Yes, I see how that's helpful to an institute that exists to speak for both the industry and its members. Woe-betide the CLG if they say or imply anything Jim doesn't agree with, eh!

It's down to the Steering Group

So if anyone else on the Steering Group wishes to be spokesman for the IDEA, you're most welcome; you might not agree with everything I say/write, but you are always welcome to have your Right of reply.

It's about the IDEA, stupid!

Believe it or not, folks, this ain't - or shouldn't be - about Jim, Hip2Go, AHIPP, or myself; it's about the IDEA. But if Jim feels the need to throw poorly-targetted grenades when a simple honest discussion would suffice, then I worry about the implications for the IDEA as an entity.

If I were a Steering Group member, I would be questioning my confidence in the Chief Exec right now... as much good as that will do, however, considering how he firmly enshrined himself into position for the next three years.

Oh, and then there's the question I alluded to earlier: who owns the IDEA anyway!?

Good luck.

Get listed on the DEA locater - FREE!

Posts: 4
Has Jim breached the IDEA Code of Conduct?
Reply #1 on : Sun March 16, 2008, 20:07:26
Have a look at the IDEA Code of Conduct at:

This says "The Council and membership of The Institute of Domestic Energy Assessors look to all members, to meet these standards and to maintain the reputation of the institute by following this Code of Ethics and Conduct (the Code). It sets down the principles which all members should follow in the course of their professional duties.

Members are obliged to comply with this Code. If they do not comply, this may result in The Institute of Domestic Energy Assessors taking disciplinary action against the member.

The key values which set the standards for the behaviour of all institute members in respect of the key stakeholders in sections 1 to 5 are:

A) Behaving with responsibility and integrity in their professional life and taking into account their wider responsibilities to society as a whole. Acting in a courteous, honest and fair manner towards anyone they deal with. Being trustworthy and never putting their interests or the interests of others above the legitimate interests of their stakeholders;

B) Complying with all relevant Laws and meeting the requirements of all applicable regulatory authorities, and appropriate codes of practice and codes of conduct.

D) Upholding professional standards in all dealings and relationships;

F) Applying objectivity in making professional judgements and in giving opinions and statements, not allowing prejudice or bias or the influence of others to override objectivity. "

am i alone in thinking that Jim Gillespie's postings on this website and elsewhere fall well below the standards expected by the IDEA of its members?

then can anyone explain what this means:

"5. Relations with the Awarding Body

Members receive various benefits as members, but they also have responsibilities to the awarding body and its members. They should:

5.1. Act at all times according to the laws of the Institute (including this Code of Ethics and Conduct);

5.2. Ensure a transparent relationship with the awarding body, based on trust, respect, responsibility and integrity;

5.3. Have pride in their status as a registered or accredited individual and any qualifications they hold;

5.4. Ensure they do not make improper use of information or disclose, or allow to be disclosed, information confidential to the awarding body;

5.5. Aim to seek opportunities to support the work of the institute and to promote its values to others, especially industry bodies, employers and prospective members;

5.6. Aim to seek opportunities to support local institute activities;

5.7. Demonstrate to others the value of professional qualifications and continuing professional development;

5.8. Treat other institute officers, other members and institute employees with the same respect they would wish to be given; [HA, HA, HA!!]

5.9. Ensure that their membership of the institute is not publicised in any way, that might suggest that they hold a professional qualification which they are not entitled to;

5.10. Ensure that any conduct, promotion or public announcement, with which a member, their name or qualification are connected does not bring the institute, another member or their profession into disrepute; [COUGH, COUGH, SPLUTTER]

5.11. Advise the institute of any members who are not following its rules or this Code, and advise the institute of anyone wrongly representing themselves as a member;

5.12. Aim to ensure the expected standard of technical competence is maintained and that they remain informed of current developments (to ensure they remain competent to carry out their role) by undertaking appropriate professional development. In addition:

5.13. Qualified members, using designatory letters should comply with the requirements of the institutes scheme for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) appropriate to their level and conditions of membership; "

this is an open message to the steering group - you are now advised that your chief exec is not following the IDEA's rules or this Code.

do you intend to do anything to protect the good name of the IDEA by enforcing this Code of Conduct by taking disciplinary action against jim?

can't see how you could ever discipline anyone else if you don't take action now.

Posts: 4
Who owns the IDEA and who will pick up the tab if it all goes wrong?
Reply #2 on : Sun March 16, 2008, 21:22:33
Mike said in his original post:
"How the constitution restricts the IDEA's commercial aspirations
These days, it is hard to imagine any business that can confidently pledge to never rely upon debt - whether for expansion or for riding the troughs. The institute - not being a business, as such - has ruled out any borrowings in its constitution:

"11.2 The Institute shall not borrow money"

It can only raise funds via the following prescribed channels:

"11.6 The Institute is empowered to raise funds by receiving subscriptions, donations, sponsorship and gifts."

...which is probably exactly how one imagines all such similar member-based entities making ends meet (although the word 'gifts' is open to interpretation I guess!).

So there's not much room to play with here, basically: it can't borrow; and can't sell anything- apart from subscriptions. What's more, it can't raise a profit...

Not for profit
In fending off accusations of 'profiteering' and 'conflict of interest' and such-like, it is often defended with the phrase: Not for profit. Which is (rightfully) stated within the constitution.

But I think it's clear, given the revenue-generating constraints imposed upon it by the constitution, that the institute is positioning itself as a hub to receive the revenue it needs from outside commercial ventures: Third party businesses detached from the institute; operating in the marketplace; with staff and overheads; a different legal environment; amongst desperate competitors in a desperate market, and, the vagaries of profit and loss!"

If that is a correct assessment of the IDEA Constitution, the following article on the labour Party’s website at raises a few concerns:

"Labour Party loan liabilities
rwendland Fri Jan 25, 2008 at 07:35:05 PM GMT Facebook

Tribune today has a dramatic article about Labour Party attempts to reschedule up to £14 million of loans, and that NEC members could be personally liable for the debts if legal action is taken. Apparently a last resort of converting the party into a limited company is being considered by some, to protect the NEC members from liability!

The article claims "Some of [the 12 large providers of loans] are apparently spitting blood and all of them are pissed off", and there have been acrimonious rows with donors who want their cash returned. Total borrowings stand at about £20 million. The latest public donation numbers are for 2007 Q3, when about £4.7 million of donations were taken (including £2 million from Lord Sainsbury, possibly a conversion of his £2m loan).

I thought the Labour Party legally was an "unincorporated association", and that all members were jointly liable for debts. So £20 million between 180,000 of us is about £110 of liability each. But the article claims just the NEC are personally liable. This may be due to the complexity of trust-law where the officers/NEC are acting as trustees on behalf of the unincorporated association to hold property and debts. Are there any lawyers or accountants out there that can explain better?

I wouldn't like to be in Jack Dromey or the forthcoming GenSec's shoes!"

If this is right and members or the steering group of an unincorporated associations could be liable for debts I have to ask:

Is the IDEA an unincorporated association?

The IDEA website gives no indication of its status, and Mike's post suggests that Companies House would not allow the IDEA to use 'institute' in any company name.

If the IDEA is an unincorporated association would you want to be on the IDEA steering group or one if IDEA's members, should the commercial ventures or employment relations go wrong?

Whilst helping energy assessors to find work is to be applauded, the silence could be deafening if the people who most need this help are the people who could be left to pay the bills.

Has the IDEA checked if they are legally allowed to do what Jim is proposing, and who will be responsible for paying the debts?

Without seeing that legal advice i won't be voting yes on the polls, or paying membership fees that could make me responsible for paying any debts.

Posts: 4
Is IDEA an 'Awarding Body'?
Reply #3 on : Mon March 17, 2008, 13:16:40
Good question - why is IDEA calling itself 'an Awarding body' under this Code of Conduct?

Who wrote this Code, or did someone just copy it off the internet coz it looked good at the time?

Posts: 4
Breach of copyright
Reply #4 on : Mon March 17, 2008, 15:44:35
Following on from the various comments made by individuals above it looks to me that IDEA has published documents that are likely to be in breach of copyright. If it was a one-off one might be tempted to forgive but when its happened repeatedly it does lessen one's disposition to forgive and forget. Members organisations need to be run properly or not at all:- fly-be-night and bodge-it-and-scarper are simply not good enough!

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