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, May 1, 2017

Is Rotary International's Future Bright or Dim?

Rotary International's future depends on chartered clubs successfully creating and retaining Rotarians. Some present and potential Rotary International (RI) leaders understand this reality.  Do they have the foresight and fortitude to weather necessary changes and overcome outdated corporate practices and mindsets?

If anyone studies available membership statistics, past RI presidential citations, educational materials, and public information, including the Rotarian magazine, they probably would notice something that may be more than a coincidence.  The drop in dues-paying Rotarians, particularly in mature legacy markets, appears to have begun near the time RI leaders started actively promoting diversity and prioritizing The Rotary Foundation (TRF) and polio eradication.
     So think about each element, starting with diversity. RI really should be more diverse. Diversity further advances the Object of Rotary. But RI began promoting diversity by pressuring clubs to go on amateurish recruiting binges. The result was Rotary's Recruiting Death Dance. In hindsight, RI should have, through its districts, identified and explored various ways to serve underserved genders, generations, ethnicities, and geographic areas.  But RI leaders self-imposed a major obstacle; they ignored RI's by-laws.  Back then RI By-laws stated, and Section 15.090 still states, that the first responsibility of district governors is organizing new clubs; the second is strengthening existing clubs; and the third is promoting membership growth. Instead, past RI leaders encouraged and educated zone and district leaders to prioritize TRF.  Promoting and supporting TRF and polio eradication, particularly in North America, quickly became the path to higher recognitions, accolades, and directorships.
     TRF is a wonderful organization.  The eradication of polio is a project of unimaginable value. Rotarians have supported both and continue to do so*. In the 1980s, many North American clubs even began spending resources to serve TRF by being local collection agencies. An unintended consequence evolved:  RI and its administrative district leaders began approaching this service as a obligation. Many districts resorted to pressuring clubs to meet targets.  Some have gone so far as to require clubs to meet annual fund donation quotas before they can even apply to use district designated funds.  Since most Rotarians are attracted to and remain in clubs because of the friendships they develop and good things they do locally, how do such actions help start new clubs, strengthen weak clubs, or promote membership growth?

     RI is making a sincere attempt to brighten its future.  It has established membership development as its priority and is reorganizing operations.  Necessary changes will be painful and will take time to implement. Some sacred cows, out-dated thought processes, and misdirected practices must drop by the wayside. New leaders are surfacing; leaders who realize that RI's future depends on having a worldwide network of successful clubs; leaders who know that RI must return to centering its resources on creating and supporting local clubs because 






*The author of this Rotatorial is a major donor and has administered the polio vaccine to Nigerian children.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Rotary International should Influence What Should be Done, not What Can be Done

The most effective leadership tool Rotary International's (RI) arsenal is influence.  High levels of influence concentrate on outcomes.  Low levels of influence concentrate on what can be done, not what should be done.

    Rotary International's purpose is to create and support Rotary clubs as they create and support Rotarians.  The survival of both is dependent on dues-paying members.  In local communities throughout the world, the people Rotary clubs generally like to attract concentrate on local outcomes.  A popular concept used in attracting them is,    "We can do more together than you can do alone." Unfortunately, analyzing historical and current information, including presidential citations, Rotary Club Central (RCC), educational materials for seminars and assemblies (including the International Assembly), RI tends to focus more on lower levels of influence i.e. more on what can be done instead of what should be done.
    Membership is an excellent example. Focus should be on the outcome: creating Rotarians.  Instead past and current focus is generally on low level specific numbers of people, often targeting specific genders, generations, and/or ethnicities.
      In service, present RI focus is on low level influences like registering projects on RCC, keeping track of volunteer hours, and emphasizing dollars contributed. Imagine where polio eradication would be if Rotarians had focused on volunteer hours and dollars contributed instead of the outcome.  Of course, volunteer hours and contributed dollars are tools that can help achieve outcomes, but they are not the focal point; the outcome is! Concentrating on such low level influences probably generated steam as RI evolved into promoting itself and its member clubs as service organizations of choice.  This no doubt led many RI senior and staff leaders to consider Rotarians to be ordinary volunteers and sources for contributions instead of people who prefer to expend their time, treasure, and talent achieving local outcomes.
   For example, in Florida's Sarasota County, over 50% of its elementary (primary) students are under-privileged. They do not have access to the resources and experiences of the other students. These children are highly susceptible to dropping out of school because, as years pass, they fall farther and farther behind. Rotarians in the Rotary Club of Sarasota have been influential in expending their time, treasure, and talents helping these under-privileged kids achieve grade level expectations.  The club's foundation dedicated seed funds. Rotarians influenced other local organizations to match the funds. They financed school-based food pantries, reading labs, and dental sealant/exam programs, and staffed some of the pantries. The outcome is that student attendance rates are up and grade level math and reading skills have improved in some schools by 58% and 56% respectively.

Like polio eradication, the overall value of the Sarasota initiative cannot be determined, but isn't this type outcome more important and appealing to existing and future Rotarians than popularizing the number of volunteer hours or contributed dollars? RI, an organization that demonstrates high level influence with organizations like the United Nations and the Gates Foundation, should not be encouraging its member clubs to achieve what can be done.  It should concentrate on influencing the entire Rotary network to do what should be done because, as vividly demonstrated by Rotarians in Sarasota,

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Why Engage if Rotary Cannot Retain?

In membership metrics, retention rates rule the data set. 
           
     Without retaining Rotarians everything else is irrelevant, including attracting and engaging new Rotarians.  Engaging is a means to an end, and the only effective measure of engagement's success is how many become and remain Rotarians.
     Retained Rotarians, by word of mouth, usually attract and engage potential Rotarians.  But let's face it:  clubs can have high numbers of Rotarians and friends engaging in activities.  Does that mean that the Rotarians will remain; that friends will want to join a Rotary club?  Maybe.  It all depends on how the benefits of engagement relate to the engager's needs and priorities, including the cost in time, talent, and/or treasure. The same fundamental principle applies when groups consider engaging with Rotary International. Without question, retention rates rule when it comes to measuring clubs, districts, zones, and Rotary International's effectiveness at engaging Rotarians in advancing the Object of Rotary.

All interactions between Rotary International, Rotary clubs, Rotarians, and potential Rotarians should be based on the concept that   





Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Past Rotary International President Kalyan Banerjee Gets and Demonstrates How to Communicate It!

Past RI President Kalyan Banerjee gets and communicates that Rotarians are the spark plugs driving the Rotary engine.  In his February, 2017 letter accompanying Rotary's Annual Report, his opening sentence says, ". . . . I am in awe of the efforts made by Rotarians from around the globe to do good in the world every day."  This verbally and non-verbally speaks volumes to Rotarians and non-Rotarians.  Verbally, it shows respect by emphasizing Rotarians instead of referring to them as 'our members'.  To Rotarians and non-Rotarians, it identifies, appreciates, and gives definition to Who Rotarians Are. Non-verbally, most Rotarians will get a warm emotional buzz because they are being identified and recognized for Who They Are - exceptional people trying to make the world a better place.

With over 35,000 chartered autonomous Rotary clubs around the world united in advancing the Object of Rotary, it is easy to understand why Past RI President Kalyan is awed by how, individually and collectively, over 1.2 million