Why Organization's Fail

Organization failure begins at the top. Rotary did not stop growing because people were not interested in joining local Rotary clubs. The number of people joining Rotary clubs proves that. It stopped growing because its leaders assumed it was in the business of supplying humanitarian services rather than in the business of creating Rotarians; they were product oriented instead of member oriented.

Red Text Note

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Misunderstanding Membership Development Can Derail Organizations.

            Throughout the last century the world's population grew and generally became more affluent. Rotary International (RI), an association of local, autonomous Rotary clubs, flourished.  Its charitable subsidiary, The Rotary Foundation, thrived by internally marketing worthwhile projects and programs that attracted contributions, primarily from members of North American Rotary clubs.  Toward the end of the century, RI undertook an ambitious worldwide service project to eliminate polio.  But on the horizon of this sunny optimistic future, a sinister, dark cloud loomed.  Income from dues-paying members stagnated.  Club membership in North America and some other regions began a gradual, steady decline.   To reverse this trend, RI leaders assumed that all they had to do was come up with tools that would encourage clubs to get more members.
            This self-centered assumption made it easy for RI's leaders to be seduced by the same siren melody that victimized many, and doomed a few, successful organizations.  It is not uncommon for leaders to believe that by concentrating on getting better at refining and improving their attributes, projects and programs that membership development is simply a matter of recruiting more members.  What leaders have difficulty comprehending, some until it is too late, is that their organizations should approach developing membership by being innovative in creating ways that their attributes, projects and programs enhance the membership experience.

Being innovative at enhancing the membership experience for Rotary clubs and Rotarians will face many obstacles.  Perhaps the most difficult will be overcoming two decades of misdirected priorities embedded in the minds of many Rotarians, most previous leaders, and many aspirants.  This can only be conquered by an intensive internal marketing initiative that delivers, in words and actions, Rotary's differentiating value proposition; a campaign centered around conveying the perception that

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Does Rotary International Really Understand Who Its Supporters Are and Why They Support Rotary?

  Rotary International (RI) does not have one group of supporters (customers).  Just like automobile manufacturers, Starbucks, McDonald's, Woolworth's, and many other national and multi-national organizations, it has two:  local outlets and their customers.  These organizations succeed when they authorize local outlets to deliver their differentiating value proposition and support the outlets as they adapt to local customers' values, wants, and realities.  For this reason, and this reason alone, organizations with local outlets, franchised or otherwise, must thoroughly understand the realities, situations, behaviors, expectations, and values of their outlets AND their outlets' customers.
    These are basic big business fundamentals, yet few Rotary leaders are educated and/or supported on understanding and applying them.  RI is not defined by its name, constitution, by-laws, Code of Policies, motto, the Four-Way Test, The Rotary Foundation, the quantity or quality of the service projects and programs it and/or its member clubs sponsor, or any amount of public information. It is only defined by the differentiating value perceived when people pay dues to join a local outlet (club), recognize themselves, and are identified locally as "Rotarians".  It is the same with all successful organizations that have many local outlets.  For example, the automobile manufacturer BMW is not defined by its name or the mode of transportation it produces.  It is defined by the differentiating value perceived by customers when they purchase a mode of personal transportation, recognize themselves, and are identified locally as owners of "the ultimate driving machine".
    RI is a multi-national business with over 35,000 outlets (clubs).  Since 1996 its membership (customer) base has hovered around 1.2 million.  Many more than that have come and gone.  Important positive changes have been adopted and are beginning to spread throughout the Rotary network.  Unfortunately many outdated mindsets - 'clubs are local service organizations', 'Rotarians are just volunteers or charity workers''clubs exist to support districts, RI, and TRF' and 'membership is strictly a club issue' - continue to flourish among Rotarians, many of them in, or seeking, leadership positions.  This can only be overcome by continuously internally marketing to clubs and Rotarians on how the Object of Rotary compliments and supports local clubs and Rotarians in their realities, because

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Rotary's Membership Development Plan Made Easy

WHY DO PEOPLE JOIN LOCAL ROTARY CLUBS?  Members are clubs' customers!  They believe membership will satisfy a needed utility that usually involves developing relationships for personal and/or business reasons.  
WHY DO ROTARIANS REMAIN IN LOCAL ROTARY CLUBS?  Rotarians are clubs' customers! Membership continues to satisfy personal and/or business utilities, which usually change over time.
WHY DO ROTARIANS NOT RENEW THEIR MEMBERSHIPS IN LOCAL ROTARY CLUBS? (other than health or relocating.)  Rotarians are clubs' customers!  Those who do not renew choose this action because membership no longer satisfies one or more of their personal and/or business utilities.
WHAT IS THE MOST ACCURATE METHOD OF MEASURING THE ROTARY NETWORK'S EFFECTIVENESS AT SATISFYING ROTARIANS' UTILITIES?  Like any business, first is the percentage of Rotarians that renew their membership, i.e. their Retention Rate.  Next is the number of new people that join clubs during the time period, expressed as a percentage, i.e. their Growth Rate.  When combined, these rates become their Retention Growth Index (RGI).  The RGI measure of success not only applies to clubs, it also applies to districts, zones, regions, and Rotary International itself.
     Once everyone understands that RGIs are the only accurate measures of how effective Rotary International (RI) and its member clubs are at advancing the Object of Rotary, then, like any successful business, leaders from clubs to the RI president, including RI's professional staff, should be continually searching for answers to these simple questions:
                        How can we improve our Retention Rate?
                        How can we improve our Growth Rate? 
            RI and its administrative divisions
                        Where should we be chartering new clubs?            
                        How can we help clubs improve their Retention Rates?
                        How can we help clubs improve their Growth Rates?

ROTARIANS ARE INTELLIGENT PEOPLE.  If asked these simple questions, they will pursue answers because they believe that 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Only One (1) of Rotary's Twelve Zones in North America Increased Membership!

In 2015-16, Zone 34, for the second year in a row, increased membership, the only North American zone to do so.  For more information, contact Zone 34 Coordinator Art MacQueen by clicking on this link.

Unfortunately, North America was down by 4,273 members. Reasons abound, but without doubt, one is inconsistent messaging - verbal and non-verbal - from Rotary International (RI) and its subsidiary, The Rotary Foundation (TRF).  Inconsistent messaging penetrates and affects the entire Rotary network and is the prime reason the communication element of Rotary's Membership Development Report Card continues to earn the lowest score.    
     Thankfully, RI and TRF leaders have addressed the root cause of its inconsistent messaging - lack of consensual priority. RI has re-established membership development as its operational priority and created a standing membership development committee.  Equally important is that RI and TRF have agreed that both must concentrate on enhancing Rotarians' experiences. The Rotary network, naturally constructed by Rotarians advancing the Object of Rotary, could easily be used to accomplish this if more Rotarians, leaders and followers, exercised effective networking skills.  In Million Dollar Networking, Rotarian Andrea Nierenberg explains that to successfully network, one should first give something of value.  For all Rotarians that would be sincere personal interest and time.   
      For example, RI maintains and continually improves membership information on clubs, districts, and zones; information that is available on Rotary Club Central.  This is super, but it does not enhance the Rotary experience; only Rotarians can do that.  Patrick Lencioni, in The Advantage,Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else, clearly points out that, in any organization, people are often in the dark even though newsletters, magazines and broad-brush emails flood in, they have access to interactive web sites and attend overly produced meetings with impressive PowerPoints, talking heads, and reams of paper (whew)!  What people need but do not get is consistent, authentic, relevant, and prioritized person-to-person, eyeball-to-eyeball, word-of-mouth communication from their leaders. Imagine the perception, reward, recognition and shared real-time information if Rotary's leaders lead the way and at least twice a year:
  • RI presidents downloaded RI's Zone membership data and reviewed it eyeball-to-eyeball with each Director and Coordinator.
  • Directors and Coordinators downloaded RI's district membership data and reviewed it eyeball-to-eyeball with each District Governor and Membership chair.
  • District Governors and Membership chairs downloaded RI's club membership data and reviewed it eyeball-to-eyeball with each club. At the same time they could help clubs enhance members' Rotary experience by suggesting that: 
    • sponsors make a point to meet several times socially with the members they have sponsored, particularly during their first two years of membership, and 
    • they be more attentive to members' desires, particularly marginal members, which would minimize semi-annual report purging and improve existing member retention rates.

Does this type of leadership take personal interest and time?  Of course, but it also takes full advantage of the Rotary network while putting an exclamation point on the importance of membership while delivering Rotary's value proposition and enhancing the membership experience.  After all, the power of the Rotary network lies in having strong local clubs because