Rotary International (R.I.), the association, has two customers: the ultimate customer - Rotarians - and its member clubs. It does not do any good for a local business, professional, or community leader to see value in becoming a Rotarian if there is not a functioning club to join, and it is useless to form a club if local business, professional, or community leaders do not perceive any value in becoming Rotarians.
This is quite similar to many businesses. Lexus and BMW, for example, manufacture machines people use for transportation. Their ultimate customer, however, does not buy machines for transportation; they buy "status", so everything Lexus and BMW do delivers "status." Local dealers sell the machines, but Lexus and BMW train the dealers to deliver commensurate "status." All public Lexus and BMW communications deliver what the ultimate customer values: "status."
North American membership records are telegraphing that Rotarians, R.I.'s ultimate customer, are not receiving the value they desire. R.I. has been selling what it does: service to the public. In
serving the public is to local business, professional, and community leaders
like machines for transportation are to the general population. The business fundamental R.I. leaders have
overlooked, did not know, or do not accept is that R.I. does not define the
business it is in, the ultimate customer, the Rotarian, does. So R.I. must ask itself these fundamental
- What differentiating "value" does becoming a Rotarian deliver to a person described in Article 5 of the Constitution of Rotary International?
- What services can R.I. perform for its member clubs that would help them deliver that differentiating "value"?
There are no easy answers to these questions, but until R.I.realizes the business it is actually in and addresses these questions effectively, R.I.'s long-term future is in jeopardy.