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.==============

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The HEART of Rotary is not Service.

The HEART of Rotary is the Object of Rotary, and it continually pumps Rotary's lifeblood,  the ideal of service, throughout the Rotary network.

Humans have brains, hands, arms, legs and feet that will function as long as they have a constant supply of lifeblood.  Rotary International (RI) has over 35,000-member clubs that will function as long as they have a constant supply of lifeblood.  What is critical for Rotary's governing body to understand is that Rotary's lifeblood is not service, it is the ideal of service.
     Rotarians should realize that Rotary is alive because Rotary's heart continually pumps the ideal throughout its network.  Rotarians, living the ideal each in their own way, use their brains, hands, arms, legs and feet to build connections and bring awareness that improves their local social fabrics and strengthens Rotary's worldwide network. 
     The ideal manifests itself in many different ways.  For example:

  • Rotarians in India overcome many social and logistical difficulties to build a water reservoir. 
  • Rotarians in metropolitan and suburban clubs use influence and money to help teachers improve student reading skills and graduation rates in local schools.
  • Rotarians in Argentina obtain a Global Grant to furnish equipment to help a school for the blind. 
  • Rotarians in Africa find individual donors and volunteers to help rural area schools.
  • Rotarians in North Carolina provide beds to help families stabilize their housing situation.
  • A Rotarian anywhere in the world helps a stranger in need.
  • Rotarians undertake a worldwide project to eliminate a crippling disease, starting in their own local social fabric and spreading globally.

     Humans continually check on their heart's health by monitoring their blood pressure and understanding the numbers.  They do not even try to monitor its result - the lifetime accomplishments of the heart's body.  RI should measure its heart's health by monitoring its RG Index and understanding the numbers.  It should not waste resources trying to remain healthy by monitoring its heart's result - the quantity of service projects, volunteer hours, and/or dollars contributed by clubs and/or Rotarians.

 Humans' body parts cease to function when they stop receiving lifeblood.  RG Indexes would identify regions of the Rotary network where the supply of lifeblood is dangerously low; where caring RI leaders who are properly prepared and supported would take corrective actions. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Is Rotary International Governance's Approach to Brand Management and Membership Development Stuck in the Era of Slide Rules and Handheld Calculators?

In the 1950s, after 33 months, four days, eight hours, and twenty minutes in the infantry, I entered the University of Florida intending to earn an engineering degree.  One glorious birthday, my wife, who had scrimped on our grocery money, surprised me with a Post Versalog slide rule, the elite hand calculator of the day.  That slide rule served my calculation needs, including sitting for my Professional Engineer's examination in 1972.  Programmable calculators were just coming on the market. In the 1980s, I purchased a Hewlett Packard 48G programmable calculator (The display shows the Rotary Club of Sarasota's annual retention rate).  Then, of course, came the age of computers, and my engineering firm adapted new technologies.  My slide rule and HP48G served their purposes very well, but what was purposeful back then became outdated and had to be retired.
    Our son followed to the University of Florida.  Now the owner of an engineering firm in Charlotte, NC and past president of the South Mech Rotary Club, he recently related this Tweet to me: In the 1990s, I used to go to a joint called “Burrito Brothers.” They had great burritos. One day, a friend of mine got the tacos, something that no one in UofF history had ever dreamed of doing. Fascinated, I asked him, “How are they?” My friend replied, “Meh. I think there’s a reason they don’t call them ‘Mexican Food Brothers.’”
            I’ve always used this as an illustration of the idea that organizations should stick to what they are good at, i.e., what their purpose is.

    Rotary International (RI) and its member clubs have only one purpose: develop Rotarians by advancing the Object of Rotary in local social fabrics throughout the world.  This alone makes the world better, one community at the time.  Are the institutions and practices that may have once been useful in helping RI accomplish its purpose similar to my slide rule and HP48G; still useable but substantially less effective?  For example:
  • District Conferences and International Assemblies'?  If their goal is to help develop Rotarians, are they accomplishing this purpose? In North America and other legacy regions, obviously not.  What systemic issues need to change?
  • Membership Month? Retaining and attracting members is a fulltime priority, yet this tradition clearly needs to change because it annually delivers the perception that developing membership is important only one month out of the year; that the other eleven monthly topics are equal in importance. What about changing this practice to where all monthly topics highlight how being associated with Rotary clubs differentiates Rotarians from all others who do good things?
  • Public Imaging?  How do RI and district public imaging approaches (Facebook, Twitter, Rotarian Magazines, Videos, Institutes, Seminars, etc.) differentiate Rotarians from the billions of other people who support local and international projects and programs?
  • Cost of Membership.  Clubs consistently hear suggestions about cutting the cost of membership, yet RI and districts increase dues every so often.  Shouldn't RI, districts, and clubs justify these dues increases by creatively improving Rotary's value proposition to Rotary clubs; to Rotarians?

     RI's People of Action brand revitalization is a start, but will take much more than redesigning logos and producing action photos and videos to revitalize membership.  RI and its administrative districts must have new, systemic value proposition deliverables that differentiate RI and Rotarians.  Short-term membership development thought processes have been used for over two decades.  It is rather obvious that they have not been successful.  Rotary Senior and Staff leaders that do not recognize the need for systemic changes in attitudes, long-term planning, and the creation of unique value proposition deliverables have their mindsets stuck in the slide rule and HP48G era.  

Where are Rotary's visionary leaders?

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.