Rotary’s senior leaders seem to be cursed with the Sisyphus Complex because they continually struggle to grow membership doing the same things over and over again when they should be chipping away at the mound of basic factors that hinder membership growth. Perhaps the most important factor is recognizing the business Rotary clubs are actually in.
All organizations exist to achieve an objective. That objective is their mission – the core of their business. One fundamental that exists in mission statements of virtually all successful entities is that the organization intends to make a distinctive difference in the lives of individuals and society. According to the Constitutions of Rotary International and member clubs, the core objective of Rotary is to advance the Object of Rotary. Core objectives should remain fixed while specific practices change as organizations modernize, expand, decentralize, globalize, and diversify.
Rotary International’s core objective has not remained fixed. It has been eroded because senior leaders have inadvertently forgotten that Rotary and its member clubs are in the business of making a distinctive difference in the lives of Rotarians – not the community, not the world – but Rotarians. It is Rotarians who utilize the many attributes the Rotary network offers to individually and collectively serve society.
Rotary clubs are in the business of making a distinctive difference in the lives of Rotarians. Rotary clubs are not service-based organizations; they are member-based organizations that impact their communities and the world. Rotary leader – do you understand and acknowledge this? Does your club acknowledge this? Does Rotary International acknowledge this? If not, the mound of basic factors will remain unchanged because everything Rotary does is dependent on knowing what business Rotary clubs are actually in.