The Strategic Plan sits at the heart of everything that we strive to achieve through FICPI.

In June 2018 the Executive Committee adopted the third revision of our Strategic Plan, with the first having been agreed in 1999 and the second in 2009.

With each successive version of the plan we have become more adept in terms of the process we use to decide – and more pertinently achieve – our agreed goals and objectives, which impacts on how much of the Plan we are ultimately able to deliver. We were able to accomplish around 60% of the goals we had set in the 2009 Plan by 2018, and we hope to further improve on that for the goals that are in the current Strategic Plan.

We knew that putting together a Strategic Plan Steering Committee (SPC) that represented our membership in terms of geography, practice area (patents, trade marks), gender and age would be critical to meeting our goals. Our SPC Committee have committed to be active members, to attend meetings and share their ideas, and is comprised of the presidents of our most important committees and a number of specifically chosen ad personam members to ensure the diversity of views that is needed.

As we worked on the new version of the Strategic Plan, we went through a number of iterative meetings and discussions. Our first meeting for the current plan took place in Garmisch, Germany in early 2016 with further meetings throughout that year, a lengthy debate within the EXCO in Hangzhou in 2017, and we achieved a plan which was approved and adopted by the EXCO at the last World Congress in Toronto in June 2018.

The early meetings involved free-ranging discussions with a professional facilitator; we all put forward a number of possible objectives which we then voted on and ranked accordingly. We used a system of voting cards to triage very rapidly the ideas which we had brainstormed. This enabled us to quickly vote on each idea in turn, according to ‘1: must do’, ,2: should do’, ‘3: could do’ or ‘4: not now’.

We then grouped the objectives with their respective initiatives under a number of broad headings.

Only after we had agreed the objectives did we write an overarching vision statement, so we can say that the vision truly reflects FICPI’s objectives.

We then put the goals to the Executive Committee which voted on and adopted the goals to be achieved as the Strategic Plan. The Strategic Planning Steering Committee then decides which goals it wants to focus on for the upcoming six months.

As part of the enhanced process we are using for this Strategic Plan, we have not fleshed out initiatives for all of the top-level goals in one go; instead we are tackling them one by one with the goal to achieve them in turn. The goals are measurable and clear, whilst the initiatives which support them and the implementation are practical activities which go towards ensuring we achieve that particular goal. The exact same procedure of voting is used to brainstorm and triage ideas for the initiatives which could be taken to meet our goals. Since earlier versions of the Plan, we have learned that a key part of the planning process is the establishment of a planning calendar to ensure progress on the various agreed initiatives is tracked and that they are properly resourced and funded (where required). 

Some of the goals may hint at a change in attitude from our members; for instance with respect to welcoming younger members at our events and encouraging their participation in our committees. It was precisely to this end that one of the first initiatives taken by the SPC was to suggest to our Statutes Committee that they review changes to FICPI’s statutes, to simplify new admissions to CET groups.

Goals include areas such as Advocacy, Training, Collaboration & Networking, Growth of FICPI, Standards, and Planning. 

For example, goal 5 is Growth.

An objective under that heading is to ‘attract a younger generation of IP practitioners to FICPI and encourage the participation of younger professionals in FICPI’s activities’.

There are a number of initiatives which are aimed at achieving this objective, including ‘Make FICPI more visible on social media’ and ‘encouraging committee participation’. As a direct result of the work of the Strategic Planning Committee, we have created an informal panel of younger FICPI members who are regularly consulted on a range of questions such as programme content for meeting, social activities and the like; we have surveyed the membership to gather information about members’ length of experience which will allow us to target future communications to younger professionals, and we are consulting with younger members on how we can make them feel more welcome and involved in our community. The Planning Committee also recommends implementing more activities for younger members at the national association/section level, and this is very much work in hand. 

In order to make sure we stay on top of progress and drive progress, we have set regular meetings to work through each objective and check up on progress with previously set initiatives.

We are mostly using face-to-face meetings added on to existing FICPI meetings, such as the 18th Open Forum in Vienna in October 2019 and the EXCO meeting in Goa next month, rather than video conferences, as members of the Strategic Plan Steering Committee are mostly all present at these meetings and it makes more efficient use of time and facilitates actual work and progression of initiatives rather than simply commissioning new work.

We have also developed an initiative tracking form which allows us to check whether we are moving apace on an initiative we are currently tracking, whether any have stalled or whether any yet to progress. This is complemented by a planning and reporting calendar to promote timely implementation of the activities.

For us, the best thing is that FICPI members and potential members are already starting to see real changes and already commenting about developments they have seen coming through directly as a result of the Strategic Plan, such as a larger body of younger members and women, greater representation from a wider number of countries and territories and having more fun at our meetings.

FICPI’s view and involvement

The Strategic Plan lies at the heart of FICPI and the enhancements we have put in place to ensure that this Strategic Plan achieves as many goals as possible will help to ensure that we drive the organisation forwards.

At FICPI we combine three unique elements: recognising the importance of the work of independent IP attorneys; building the FICPI community on trusted, global relationships; and making IP attorneys more effective. The Strategic Plan underpins each of these elements through goals around Advocacy, Training, Collaboration & Networking, Growth of FICPI, Standards, and Planning.  

Next steps 

Authors: Ivan Ahlert & Julian Crump