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Red Text bears a link to reference Rotatorials.

Retention Central is monitored occasionally by its creator, Jim Henry, who may be contacted by email at

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Is It Too Late For Rotary?

Born by Commerce
   The Rotary Foundation and all Rotary projects and programs, including polio eradication, are wonderful attributes that support Rotary International and its member clubs.  But the Organization Cemetery is filled with tombs of organizations who concentrated on improving attributes that supported their Brand instead of protecting the Brand and continually delivering value to the Brand's target audience.  Attributes come and go.  Polio eradication – a service project of unfathomable proportions – is about to go.  Will Rotary International go with it?  Attributes are vital to organizations only if they support its Brand and deliver value to the Brand’s target audience. What is Rotary's Brand? Who is Rotary’s target audience? PRID John Smarge nailed it in his “Who is Rotary” speech before the 2011 International Assembly.
   Polio eradication owes much of its success to “Who is Rotary!” Rotary is "local networks of business, professional, and community LEADERS in thousands of local, autonomous clubs scattered throughout the world."  They dreamed of having polio free villages, towns, cities, and countries. Multitudes of Rotarians solidified the cooperation of millions of independent commercial and community leaders of various ethnicities, religious orders, economic systems, and political structures. Their dream, created by local Rotarians, spread by Rotary International, and supported by The Rotary Foundation spurred Rotarians to use their LEADERship skills and resources to influence local and national political, religious, and tribal leaders to commit to freeing people under their influence from polio.  For almost twenty-eight years, millions of these Rotarians have banded together and, even after ridding their own country of polio, expended personal time, resources, and influence to sustain this priceless attribute.
  Will Rotary International entomb itself in the Organization Cemetery because it is concentrating on improving attributes instead of protecting its Brand and being resourceful at finding unique ways to deliver the attributes’ values to its target audience? Is it too late for Rotary to center on its target audience i.e. “Who Rotary Is?”  Is it too late for Rotarians, especially leaders at all levels, to learn what Rotary actually is so they can quickly respond to  What is Rotary?"

Note:   This BLOG contains many Rotatorials that discuss branding, attributes, and target audiences as they relate to all levels of Rotary.  The Most Widely Read are listed in the right sidebar.  Thank you for taking the time to read some of them, for your interest in Rotary, and for all each of you do in support of our Rotary Brand and its Ideal of Service as expressed in The Object of Rotary. 
This will be the last POST of 2012.  Wherever you are, please enjoy a Happy Holiday Season.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What is Rotary's Brand? Does it Differentiate Rotary?

By perfecting your brand and increasing your credibility, retaining and attracting your target audience becomes much easier.
 Jim Henry, Zone 34 Membership and Rotary Coordinator, 2009 - 2011.

           In Rotary Zone 34, and throughout North America, indications are that Rotary still has credibility but has ceased perfecting its Brand.  In the five years from 2005 through 2009, Zone 34, with over 34,000 Rotarians, inducted 22,467 new members and lost 23,053.  This indicates that, after decades of building respect and credibility, the name Rotary still attracts its target audience – members – but many Rotary clubs have lost the ability to retain members.
    Examine possible reasons why from a different point of view.  Successful Organization History 101 (reference Distinctive Position Edition workbook on the right sidebar) tells us that when organizations begin, they furnish goods and/or services different from others that compete for their target audience’s time, talent, and treasure.  This difference is the organization’s Distinctive Position, its driving force; its Brand.  If the organization wants long-term success, it is critical that it adheres to, perfects, and jealously guards its Brand.
     Second to the Brand, and this first/second relationship is vital, is that the organization must have attributes that Relate to the target audience’s wants and needs, which change with time and location.  Why?  It is the manner in which the organization’s attributes Relate to the target audience that builds Brand loyalty.
     The extent to which the organization fulfills its stated or implied Brand establishes the Respect the target audience has for it.  Respect does not occur without having a Brand and attributes that Relate.   Respect reflects the credibility and reputation the target audience has for the organization.  Respect can outlive the Brand by many years.
     Knowledge the target audience has of the organization follows Respect and can also outlive the Brand by many years.  Knowledge means that the target audience has bought into what the Brand stands for, its difference, and further enhances the organization’s credibility. Brand Knowledge cannot be purchased with advertising or public relations.  It must be gained through experience and education.  In Rotary, that translates to retaining members, which will enhance attracting members.

What has this got to do with Rotary?
    Some organizations reach their mountaintop and score high in the Brand, Relate, Respect, and Knowledge categories, then falter and start slipping down the mountain or fall off the cliff.  Why?  Most often it is because its leaders become complacent about perfecting the Brand and allow, or encourage, attributes to exceed the Brand in priority.  This affects everything the organization does: strategic planning, daily operations, associate educational programs, advertising, public relations, etc.  The leaders mistakenly believe that its attributes, things like products, projects, and programs, are its Brand, but an organization’s Brand cannot be defined by attributes; attributes must support the Brand.  Attributes change with time and location and frequently lose Relevance.  Popular attributes are often copied.  Respect and Knowledge continue to attract the target audience, but they soon learn that the organization has forfeited differentiation, hence credibility, strictly because it failed to perfect its Brand.
     This relates to Rotary at all levels.  The target audience, and only the target audience, authenticates a Brand.  Rotary International can't; The Rotary Foundation can't; the over 34,000 Rotary clubs can't!  If target audiences are not properly identified, and their wants and needs are not served by Relevant attributes, Rotary's Brand cannot be perfected. Respect and Knowledge will slowly slip away, and the North American experience indicates that Rotary is in danger.  Will, or can, Rotary revitalize its Brand?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Manage Change or Change will Manage Rotary!

   Rotary, the entire organization, must continually evolve otherwise it will cease to exist (Please refer to Rotary's Branding Triangle in the right sidebar.)  Change is never easy, but Rotary does have a choice – manage change or change will manage Rotary, perhaps out of existence.  In managing change, it is critical that Rotary understands its core industry, recognizes who funds the organization (the customer), and continually delivers value to them.
    Rotary International’s core industry is advancing the Object of Rotary.  Its only customers are its member clubs; clubs that depend on retaining and attracting local business, professional, and community leaders into the Rotary network.  The Rotary Foundation, Rotary’s charitable arm, is a key associate and a major player in advancing the Object of Rotary throughout the world.
    But Rotary's strength lies in its over 34,000 local member clubs and their over 1.2 million members.  Change must be managed with their points of view in mind because it is they who fund and advance the Object of Rotary, first within their local social fabrics, then the world.  Change must continually deliver value to member clubs who must deliver value to their local members.
   The Organization Cemetery is littered with graves of those who failed to manage change because they were seduced by success and fell under the spell of one or more of what I refer to as Fishy Fantasies.  (Author’s note – A fishy fantasy is a slang statement representing a deterrent that hinders addressing paramount issues.)
Fishy Fantasy One – By getting better at what they are doing, they believe their customers will continue to demand their product or service.  Organizations, believing that they are the best at what they are doing, tend to become arrogant, lazy, and gravitate toward mediocrity.  These conditions will become their enemy because customers will eventually find a way to achieve higher levels of satisfaction; more value for their time, treasure, and/or talent.
Fishy Fantasy Two – It costs too much.  Customers are lost primarily because they do not believe they will receive, or are not receiving, value proportional to what they are being asked to contribute in time, treasure, and/or talent. A fundamental principle of any successful change is that if the product or service satisfies customer’s needs, they will find a way to pay for it.  Obviously there has to be a reasonable cost/value ratio, but price is seldom the primary reason people do not buy what an organization sells.
Fishy Fantasy Three – Increasing affluence will ensure the organization’s growth.  In this type atmosphere, organizations’ leaders often assume that they do not have to be creative about their business or industry.  Instead they tend to concentrate on improving what they are already doing.  What actually happens is that they get better at their deeds rather than improving their deeds’ values to their customer.

  Has Rotary been Captivated by any of these Fantasies?

(These fantasies are slightly modified excerpts from Membership - A Chilling Analogy - a short, 2009 Rotatorial prepared for the All Florida PETS.  The Rotatorial may be accessed by clicking on this link.)