Why Organization's Fail

Rotary didn't stop developing membership because people were not interested in joining local Rotary clubs. Recent membership metrics have proven that. It stopped growing because Rotary and its member clubs became product oriented instead of member oriented. They marketed the results of the Object of Rotary instead of its value to its member clubs and Rotarians - its customers - those who fund its operations.

Red Text Note

==============Red text has a link to a previous Rotatorial or referenced document.==============

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Wind that Drives Rotary's Service Windmill

   Local clubs and Rotarians are the wind that turn Rotary's service windmill. It appears that present senior Rotary and staff leaders now realize this.  Their problem is delivering that image to district and club leaders.  The words are there for all to read, but the perception is lacking because the words are not reinforced by recognizable actions, particularly at district levels.
   RI President Nominee Mark Mahoney may be planning Regional Membership Seminars centered on developing Rotarians.  If so, RI's prestige is at stake with these seminars.  If they do not deliver the perception that developing Rotarians is Rotary International's highest priority, they stand the chance of doing more harm than good while wasting precious resources.
    Past RI membership seminars have approached membership development by:
  • ·       classifying, considering, and treating Rotarians as volunteers who do good it their community and the world instead of local professional People of Action (most of whom are already doing good in their communities),
  • ·         promoting The Rotary Foundation and its 4 Star Rating by Charity Navigator,
  • ·        encouraging everyone to bask in the glow of polio eradication and,
  • ·        persuading clubs to recruit more members so RI can do more good in the world.

     Rotary clubs are centered locally. The seminars must address concepts that linger in all local leaders' minds, questions such as:
·               "Why should a group of local People of Action aspire to become a chartered Rotary club?"  Is it because RI is over 100 years old and does good in the World? (Boring - not a differentiating factor) or because advancing the Object or Rotary has proven to help groups make their lives better (opens the mind for more discovery!)?
·            "Is the purpose of Rotarians and clubs to help RI be a worldwide service organization?" (This is irrelevant in legacy regions because local People of Action have unlimited opportunities to help local and international service organizations without joining any local organization.)
·        "Which has the highest priority: Develop Rotarians or contribute to The Rotary Foundation?"  (Local People of Action are more interested in expending resources to improve their local social fabrics.  Anyone can financially support The Rotary Foundation without joining a local organization.)
·          "Why have a membership month if developing Rotarians is a continuing priority?" (Shouldn't each monthly action relate to how it helps develop Rotarians; reinforce the concept that Rotarians are the wind that drives Rotary service windmill?)
The type education needed for district and club leaders to deliver the perception that developing Rotarians is RI's highest priority simply cannot be done with ill-equipped or improperly prepared facilitators.  They must be ready to address the serious concepts that local People of Action face day in and day out otherwise RI's service windmill stands an excellence chance of becoming calm.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Is Rotary International Encouraging Clubs to Hook Up or Develop Relationships with People of Action?

In the Rotary world, membership development to most people means get more members into Rotary clubs.  It is not unreasonable for Rotary leaders to think this because for decades industrial era executives encouraged their customer development – marketing – departments to get more customers engaged in buying their products and services.  Kodak, for example, centered its marketing on "getting more customers engaged with our products and services."  Kodak, of course, is now a shadow of its former self.  Had Kodak been more interested in developing acquaintances with instead of just engaging its customers, it may have come to realize that most customers were not engaged with cameras, film, and developing services, they were engaged in creating memories.  Kodak's management was product oriented, not customer oriented, which was the prime reason for the downfall of the company whose research and development department actually invented the digital camera.
            RI data indicates that Rotary clubs are engaging new members at enviable rates.  This appears to be a Rotary version of hooking up because RI's membership needle has wobbled around 1.2 million for almost two decades. Kodak's customers engaged with what the company produced, and moved on when the engagement was no long beneficial.  Is just engaging existing and potential members going to retain them?  Wouldn't it be better if RI itself engaged in developing relationships with clubs, while encouraging clubs to engage in developing relationships with existing and potential members?  
            Studying Rotary and its expansion, historians will most likely conclude that RI's leaders meant exactly what is expressed in the first Object of Rotary, "The development of acquaintances as an opportunity for service."   This indicates that RI, from its beginning in 1905, was successful because it promoted developing relationships with dues-paying local business, professional, and community leaders.  For eight decades Rotary advanced the Object of Rotary because, with pinpoint accuracy, it centered on serving its customers - clubs and their members.  During the 1980-1990s RI’s leadership evolved into centering on what Rotarians produced after adopting the ideal of service in their personal, business, and community lives.  In other words, RI became product centered and changed the Object of Rotary’s intent to “Get more members engaged in financing and producing more service."  The result:  RI membership stagnated due to severe declines in legacy regions because local business, professional, and community leaders do not pay dues to engage in financing and doing more service, they pay dues to engage in ". . . developing more acquaintances as opportunities for service."
       Rebranding Rotarians as People of Action can be a major initiative because it is Rotarian centered and establishes the commonality “We.”  The success of this initiative depends upon the ability of RI leadership, particularly at the zone and district level, to shift focus from being a product centered service organization into being member centered.  Down the line leaders must understand why people join and stay in local Rotary clubs, and continue to find unique ways to help clubs retain them as loyal Rotarians.  The longer members remain actively advancing the Object of Rotary, the better their Rotary Lifetime Value (RLV) will be to all concerned.  In Rotary clubs' niche market, the most effective public relations campaign is word-of-mouth, and satisfied Rotarians are proud to say good things about Rotary.  This alone will improve membership equity in clubs and RI.

If RI leaders want to use this decade's organizational buzz-word engage, they should be more specific by stating specifically that RI and its member clubs should engage in developing relationships rather than engaging in instant gratification by hooking up then moving on.  Membership in a Rotary club should help People of Action become more of who they want to be.  RI and clubs should carefully examine the characteristics that make them exceptional.  Then they should focus resources on developing and refining relationships with People of Action as an opportunity for service. 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Is Rotary International's Influence Respected & Mutually Beneficial to Clubs and Rotarians?

In 2008 I became Zone 34’s Membership Coordinator.  It wasn’t long before I visioned Rotary International (RI) as Sisyphus struggling up the membership development slope pushing a network of 34,000 clubs weighted down by decades of outmoded, and sometimes misguided, practices and attitudes, especially in legacy regions.
But now, thanks to a few People of Action leading the way, RI’s business model is changing. RI appears to realize that greater value will be created if its worldwide, community-centered autonomous Rotary clubs are released from recent customs to pursue Rotary’s common purpose and objective – the Object of Rotary – centered locally and spreading globally.  Successful organizations, businesses, consultants, and Wall Street experts say such a move is wise because RI is transitioning its visions and strategies from the outmoded hierarchies and practices of the Industrial and Information eras into the “modern” Social Era.
Throughout the Rotary network, influential Rotarians are skeptical, which may be one reason changes in attitudes and practices on membership-related support, public relations, and other business practices for our member-driven organization is slow coming to districts and clubs.   Rotary history indicates that they should not be skeptical because Rotary pioneered the Social Era in 1905.  Back then, Rotarians talked to people face to face i.e. developed acquaintances.  Traveling first by horseback, wagons, trains and ships, they grew the network from one Rotary club in Chicago into a worldwide organization simply because they were spreading a common value .
Near the end of the twentieth century, RI left its differentiating Social Era brand behind and began trying to brand itself as a worldwide service/charity organization.  It didn’t work.  But that’s history.  RI’s present and future leaders cannot be weighed down by past hierarchies, customs, and practices, but the lessons learned should never again be forgotten.  RI leaders at all levels should clearly understand:
  1. What business Rotary is in,
  2. Who its supporters are,
  3. What its supporters value, and
  4. How to set and measure results.

 Most of those now leading Rotary understand these business fundamentals.  They should plan for RI to gain club and Rotarian insights by staying interconnected, and to expeditiously act with relevance.  Present Rotary leaders should free the association’s over 35,000 autonomous Rotary clubs from past and present impositions set or implied by RI, its zones, districts, and/or The Rotary Foundation.  RI should center all activities on chartering and supporting clubs as they strive to retain and attract People of Action to advance the Object of Rotary.

RI is, and always will be, Rotary’s center of influence, but its influence must be respected and mutually beneficial to clubs and Rotarians if it wants to spread and receive value through interconnected relationships.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

What Happened to 2,200,000 Rotarians?

Year-End Membership
# of Clubs
Rotary International’s membership has hovered around 1,200,000 for the last fifteen years.  During this time, according to RI’s own records, Rotary clubs have inducted - and lost - approximately 2,200,000 members.  Why?  Nobody seems to have reasonably definitive answers, only conjectures.
Rotary International (RI) has acknowledged that it is a business, and that it should be led and managed accordingly.  Because of a 2011 international study, RI has rebranded itself as an organization created by and for People of Action.  To assure that the rebranding initiative is, or will be, effective, RI must maintain and continually study membership information.  By doing so, it can have an educated answer to why it lost over 2 million members and a more dependable base to launch its future.

Senior Rotary and staff leaders must accept that the rebranding initiative will only be effective when all interconnecting relationships are mutually beneficial. In doing so, RI can begin to critically examine, study, and address important issues such as:
  • Are clubs pinpointing the appropriate target audiences to attract? 
  • Are clubs informing target audiences what to expect when they join? 
  • What percentage of the target audiences inducted left their club for reasons beyond club control (health (personal or family), relocation, financial setback, etc.)? 
  • What is a reasonable Retention Rate expectation for one-year, two-year, three-year, five-year, & ten-year Rotarians? 
  • What is a reasonable Attraction Rate expectation for the clubs, districts, and zones?
When RI begins to zero in on these types of critical issues it will be able to:
  • Judge the degree of success of its rebranding initiative, and 
  • Strategically plan for a successful future.
It is vital that RI establish a priority on recording and analyzing important membership related information.  Accurate information is necessary for RI to establish a mutually beneficial interconnecting relationship with its primary target audience – Rotary clubs.  The most cost-effective place to start is to utilize data RI presently collects and semi-annually publish Retention Rates, Attraction Rates, and RG Indexes for each club, district, zone, and RI.

Retention Rates and Attraction Rates are both important.  Retention Rates are particularly helpful in determining if clubs are delivering the People of Action brand’s promise.  Attraction Rates, in combination with first, second, and third year Retention Rates, indicate the quality of the target audience clubs are attracting, the clubs’ effectiveness at delivering the brand’s promise early, and the club’s ability to inform target audiences of the relationships the clubs offer.  RG Indexes help identify clubs, districts, and zones that are most successful at delivering Rotary’s brand promise and quickly highlights clubs, districts, and zones most in need of assistance.