Why Organization's Fail

Organization failure begins at the top. Rotary did not stop growing because people were not interested in joining local Rotary clubs. The number of people joining Rotary clubs proves that. It stopped growing because its leaders assumed it was in the business of supplying humanitarian services rather than in the business of creating Rotarians; they were product oriented instead of member oriented.

Red Text Note

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


"You volunteered helping some people in your community.  Good for you, but who were you helping by posting what you did on your Facebook page?"  Recent Facebook post.

    Many service organizations (libraries, hospitals, museums, food banks, churches, etc.) keep track of volunteer hours.  In most cases the information is used to place a value on the volunteers' service.  This value in turn can be beneficial when it comes to applying for grants and exhibiting the volunteer-hour value to organizations' Boards of Directors and potential donors.  If properly handled, it can be used to amplify how volunteers help organizations impact communities.  For Rotary clubs, volunteer hours should be considered when determining the value of projects and activities.  But Rotary International (RI) and its member clubs can get themselves mired in the Volunteer Hour Quagmire if the information is improperly used in public information and relations.  
    Think about it.  The Rotary network is a member-driven organization; not a service-driven organization.  The sole purpose of RI and its member clubs is to create Rotarians who will continue to advance the Object of Rotary.  With this in clear view, care must be taken when publicizing the number of volunteer hours clubs or RI expend because it may not communicate Rotary's value proposition to its prime markets - existing and potential Rotarians.  Consider that, for decades, Rotary leaders worshiped the mantra, "When polio is eradicated, people will line up to join Rotary clubs."  Polio has been gone in all but four countries for many years, and now only remains in two countries.  But those line-ups never occurred!  Why?  Because Rotary is not what Rotary does, it is Who Rotarians Are; people of all genders, generations, and ethnicities who have adopted the ideal of service in their personal, business, and community lives.

    Rotary will continue to make the world better, providing it wisely pursues its purpose and objective.  In doing so, it must strive to deliver an enhanced value proposition to clubs and Rotarians, not just in August, but all year long, forever and a day, because

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Rotary's Membership Winds

In May 2003, the Rotary International (RI) Board of Directors made Decision 324 that became RI's Code of Policies Section 26.120, "Membership Statistics:  The development and continuation of activities and programs addressing membership must remain the association's highest priority.  The association and its clubs must remain focused on all aspects of membership."  Unfortunately this decision didn't stir enough wind to get the Good Ship Rotary out of the membership doldrums where it had been stalled for over a decade.  Then, in 2011 Director John Smarge created a sudden tropical storm with his International Assembly address.  Unfortunately corporate inbreeding, lack of common business sense, and a 2012 RI non-verbal action that telegraphed RI's priority throughout the Rotary network quelled the membership winds and the Good Ship remained in the doldrums.  But Director Smarge's tropical storm did stimulate some critical thinking by all aboard.
            Finally, in 2015 favorable membership winds began to blow.  The Good Ship's sails ballooned, filling the crew and its leaders with energy and enthusiasm.  President Ravi established RI's first membership retention goal, and the Good Ship's officers established membership development as RI's operational priority.  In 2016, membership trade winds grew, and the Good Ship trimmed for smooth sailing.  President Germ eliminated interim membership deadlines, and the Council on Legislation, acting on the officers' recommendation, created a standing membership admiralty and charged them with keeping the Good Ship out of the doldrums.  All excellent signs, but the Good Ship can only navigate through the gauntlet of personal and corporate projects, programs, attributes and personal mindsets if RI continually communicates - in words and deeds - the importance of staying on course.  Otherwise, the Good Ship could find itself back in the doldrums.

 Okay.  So much for the amateurish imagery.  In reality, it will take more than words on paper or in media for RI to continually create Rotarians. The lack of effective communication following the Board's 2003 decision vividly proves this, proof supported by RI's 2012 non-verbal this-is-our-priority action.  Rotary has designated August as Membership Month.  Nice archaic gesture, but it can be problematic.  Communicating RI's purpose and objective must be professionally, gently, and consistently communicated all year long, forever and a day.  Otherwise, RI and its member clubs will again find themselves struggling for members - and the dues they pay.
     RI's only purpose is to create Rotarians and support them as they create and utilize RI attributes to advance the Object of Rotary.  RI's strategic plan must reflect this reality by establishing attainable visions regarding chartering and supporting clubs in their endeavors to create Rotarians simply because  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Rotary Membership is a Result of . . .

Rotary International (RI) and its member clubs producing attributes that clubs and Rotarians value!  The sticky point for RI is that it doesn't determine the value of the attributes it creates; clubs and Rotarians do.  The results of delivering what clubs and Rotarians value is reflected in accurate, timely membership reports of clubs, districts, zones and regions i.e. membership retention and attraction rates.

 RI has:

·       recognized that it is in the membership development business,
·       acknowledged that membership is its top operational priority,
·       authorized a standing membership development committee, and

     These combine to make it much easier to gauge the success of attributes and innovations.  The missing link is determining the value clubs and Rotarians receive from everything RI offers, does, requires, recommends, and/or endorses.  For example, what value do clubs and/or Rotarians receive
·       by participating in Rotary Club Central?
·       by being required to subscribe to Rotary's monthly magazines?
·       by RI sending president's representatives to district conferences?
·       from district conferences?
·       by sending president-elects to training seminars? 
·       from a district governor's visit?

     Without continually evaluating all connections from the viewpoint of clubs and Rotarians, RI has scant chance of optimizing its membership.  It must continually, based on local clubs' and Rotarians' demographics, psychographics, values, realities, and needs, maximize the value of every interconnecting relationship.  And that is a prime responsibility of Marketing!
  The Rotary network grew because past Rotarians experienced the value of being a Rotarian.  The Rotary network suffered because RI diverted its original value proposition - the Object of Rotary - from its natural course.  It is RI's responsibility to take the lead in reigniting the value of being a Rotarian.  It should take this opportunity to be the innovative industry leader it once was and create a Marketing group responsible for determining the value of every connection with those who fund its operations - clubs and Rotarians - because

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Rotary Network's Growth: Why it stopped! Will it Sustain?

The recent Blog post, Is Rip Van Rotary Finally Waking Up? stimulated interesting comments from readers, some of which are included here.  As  they indicate, many club and district Rotarians and leaders wrestle with What is Rotary? and Why Rotary?, basically Rotary's value proposition.  So let's reconstruct how the Rotary network grew, why it stopped, and what it will take to continue revitalizing and sustaining its growth.
    In 1905, Rotary's value proposition - The Object of Rotary - flowed freely from Chicago and naturally constructed the Rotary network much like the Mississippi River historically flowed freely and naturally constructed its Louisiana delta.  In the latter part of the last century, Rotary International (RI) substantially restricted the proposition's natural flow by rerouting it.  This rerouting minimized constructing its network, particularly in major market areas, and it began to shrink.  In the last century, the Corp of Engineers substantially restricted the Mississippi's natural flow by rerouting it.  This rerouting minimized constructing its delta in Louisiana, and it began to shrink.  Following Constructal Law, the reason was the same in both cases:  Rotary's value proposition and the Mississippi River stopped flowing free because both, with good intentions, were routed away from their natural course. The Corp of Engineers channeled the Mississippi River to serve the nation's needs instead of the Louisiana delta; RI leaders channeled the Rotary network to serve beneficiaries'  needs instead of clubs and Rotarians.
     RI's underlying problems created by this rerouting were:
  • Beneficiaries do not replenish the Rotary network; Rotarians do.
  • Beneficiaries do not fund RI and its projects and programs; clubs and Rotarians do. 
  • RI began portraying Rotarians as volunteers and charity workers.
There are billions of volunteers and charity workers.  It doesn't take much skill to pick up trash, serve in food lines, dig ditches, or park cars.  Not only that, most have no interest whatsoever in joining a local Rotary club.  Even if they did, why should they pay dues to join an organization that recognizes them for doing what they are already doing?  Many Rotarians do volunteer to do charity work, but they must be differentiated from the billions of others.  Rotarians adopt the ideal of service in their personal, business, and community lives. Because they live by this ideal, they often identify local community needs, and as a result of the relationships developed through the network, create ways and means to satisfy those needs.  Most often it is writing checks funding those who have the necessary skills.  But is this the image of Rotarians emanating from RI, the networks headwaters?  Is this the image of Rotarians the communities in which they reside receive?  Is this the image of Rotarians those who may be interested developing acquaintances with them receive? 
   Only limited numbers of people in any community have the time and resources to join the Rotary network.  They are a niche group, and a minuscule niche at that.  People in this niche will expend the time and money to develop and sustain relationships just like lobbyists will contribute to political campaigns to develop and sustain relationships with politicians. Building relationships with this niche is the first and most important Object of Rotary.  The second Object respects how they utilize their professions to make their community better i.e. employ people, serve customers, satisfy community needs, influence positive community development, etc.  But it is in the third Object where Rotary's value proposition shines - Rotarians adopt the ideal of service in their personal, business, community, and world lives; the root of the Rotary network.
    RI can reestablish its value proposition's natural flow by developing and executing a long-term internal marketing campaign centered on differentiating who Rotarians are, the value that people who may be interested in becoming a Rotarian receive, and telling stories about the benefits of advancing the Object of Rotary.  Hundreds of thousands of Rotarians, including many leaders, do not understand the Object's essence simply because few Rotarians stress its importance, particularly the value of developing relationships with like-minded people.  Often their defense is its century-old phraseology; the phraseology upon which the network was constructed.  The real reason is that Rotarians have not been encouraged to talk about its importance. 
RI, through internal marketing, must destroy its restricting gates, and encourage its value proposition to once again flow freely.  This will constantly revitalize the networks most effective constructors, existing Rotarians.  Like unrestricted rivers perpetually build deltas, Rotarians will continue constructing their network because they know that