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

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Rotary's Regional Membership Plans - Fancy and Missing Something Important?

Rotary International's Regional Membership Plans (RMPs) have helped change minds and bring membership to the forefront, but they are fancy and missing something important. The Executive Summaries have Goals and Objectives with fancy Key Performance Indicators, but not one RMP has a written, defined purpose and/or desired result!!  Naturally it is assumed that the RMPs are maps to help grow membership, but each RMP should specify RI's purpose and desired result so all goals and objectives have a target for which to aim. 
     Clubs are where the rubber meets the road when it comes to creating Rotarians, but every Rotarian and employee of RI and clubs should always be practicing the Object of Rotary, especially the first. Any initiatives RI suggests that clubs should undertake should be thoroughly examined from clubs' points of view. It is understandable for RI to tell its administrative districts what it wants them to do, but RI planners and leaders should take care in suggesting initiatives for clubs to undertake.  If clubs are not convinced that pursung the initiatives will benefit them, the initiatives stand an excellent chance of being considered wasted effort. For example: 
            Goals and Objectives: Strengthen Clubs - The performance indicators are:
            1. 100% of the districts have a designated District Membership Committee chair.
            2. Ensure 30% of the clubs set and track at least 10 goals in Rotary Club Central.
           Districts should have some Rotarians that are properly educated and supported in developing membership.  But what value do clubs, club officers, or Rotarians receive by setting and tracking at least 10 goals on Rotary Club Central?  Will clubs consider this clerical action a benefit or waste of time and energy?
            Goals and Objectives:  Member Attraction - the performance indicators are:
            1.  Each district will charter at least one new Rotary club.
            2.  Improve the gender diversity rate of our members by at least two percentage points. 
           3.  Improve the age diversity rate of our members by increasing the number of Rotarians              under the age of 40 by at least two percentage points. 
             Each district should make it a goal to charter and support at least one new club a year.  This is an excellent way to diversify.  However, caution should be exercised when encouraging all clubs to meet the diversity indicators.  If the diversity concept is not marketed and perceived as advancing the first and second Objects of Rotary, these diversity indicators risk becoming another Recruiting Death Dance. 
            Goals and Objectives:  Member Engagement - the performance indicators are:
            1.  Improve the member retention rate by at least 1%.
            2.  Increase the number of members registered in My Rotary by encouraging clubs to                             have 50% of their club members registered. 
            Improving member retention is a priority.  Its importance is watered down by treating the second indicator, at least in print, as equal in priority to retaining members.  Besides, what benefit do clubs receive if 50% of their members register in My Rotary?  What benefits do Rotarians receive by registering on My Rotary?

     In the broader picture, what if zones and districts satisfied all, or most, performance indicators but continue to lose members? What have achieving the performance indicators accomplished? What if zones and districts are successful at growing membership but satisfy only one or two performance indicators? Which ones have been successful? Who should receive praise and recognition?

RI continues to make progress in Membership Development.  The performance indicators listed may help retain and attract Rotarians, but the RMPs should be simplified by clearly stating their purpose and desired result, and having one, and only one, RI, zone, district, and club Key Performance Indicator - their Retention and Attraction rate - i.e. their RG Index!

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I'd like to wish you a wonderful Holiday Season and Happy New Year.  With a bit of luck, I'll have another Rotatorial in January.  In the meantime, let's all make a New Year's Resolution that we will practice the Object of Rotary and help our clubs improve their retention and attraction rates.
                                                                                        Jim Henry

Monday, November 14, 2016

Should Rotary International have a Chief Membership Officer?


Member and donor-dependent organizations that prioritize recruiting large quantities of supporters are making a serious mistake.  Supporters are organizations' reward for delivering enhanced supporter value.  The only objective measure of whether or not organizations are delivering value and deserve this reward is the rate they retain and attract supporters.   
 For Rotary International (RI), understanding these realities could have influenced senior leaders' decisions much earlier had they valued RI's supporters and marketed the Object of Rotary's Ideal of Service.  Instead, in the 1980s RI began promoting select expressions of the Object of Rotary.  In the 1990s membership stabilized and, in some major market areas, began declining. To counter this trend, RI actively encouraged clubs to recruit, not attract, members - its infamous Recruiting Death Dance.
     This probably would not have happened had RI had a Chief Membership Officer (CMO).  Such a person, like the Chief Marketing Officer of many successful organizations, could have been an active part of marketing to and understanding RI's two-tier supporter base; clubs and Rotarians.  It is not too late for RI to consider establishing such a position, if it hasn't already done so.  The CMO (with assistants in each Secretariat office, and Zone Membership Coordinators) would be RI's connection between trends, societal changes, club and Rotarian changing needs, RI strategy and support, new club potential and how all these come together to affect membership.  Their measure of success would, of course, be RG Indexes of each administrative division and club

RI should once again become the inventive, pioneering organization it once was in the member-supported civic club industry. To do so, it must become more innovative in marketing the Object of Rotary's Ideal of Service to clubs and Rotarians because  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

What Results do Rotary International's Leaders Expect from the Regional Membership Plans?


Upon review, each 2016-17 North American Regional Membership Plan (RMP) has many goals, objectives, and action plans.  Membership development plans should have a few of these, but one critical item is missing - a priority statement with the result leaders desire!  This is problematic because Rotary International's leaders should establish a priority statement with a measurable and attainable desired growth target.  If the RMPs do not have such a priority statement, how will coordinators and managers know if their objectives and actions are on track to reach the desired results?
     So let's examine some basic membership development plan fundamentals:  Rotary International's objective is to advance the Object of Rotary.  It does that by chartering and supporting independent Rotary clubs.  Rotary clubs attract and retain members - Rotarians - from within their local social fabrics.  The Object of Rotary is the value proposition that embeds the Ideal of Service in Rotarians' personal, business, and community lives.  Rotary's growth, and actions by Rotarians, Rotary clubs, and Rotary International (RI) - including polio eradication - are expressions of the Object of Rotary.
    To continue advancing the Object of Rotary, RI needs clubs, and clubs need members who embrace the Object of Rotary's Ideal of Service.  Therefore, RMP priority statements should express acceptable and attainable growth targets related to creating clubs and helping them retain and attract Rotarians who embrace the Ideal of Service.  Priority statements should be simple and straightforward so there is little chance for misunderstanding.  For example:  "Zones --- and --- priority is to reach an annual RG Index of 90.76 by June 30, 2020." 

What is RG Index and was the number pulled out of the air?
     In 2013, using RI information from Past RI Director Smarge's 2011 International Assembly presentation, this former Zone 34 Coordinator calculated, using simple arithmetic, that if RI improved its annual Retention and Growth Rates to 88.84% and 1.92% respectively, its RG Index would be 90.76 (add the two rates and drop the % sign), and RI would be growing at a steady rate.  In the sample priority statement, which could be instituted immediately, the RG Index is a simple, understandable, measurable, and attainable growth target.  Every goal, objective, and action in each RMP must center on reaching this target.  Goals and objectives that are not designed to do so, whether or not they appear to be desirable initiatives, are distractions and must be eliminated.

 Past experience tells us that continuity in leadership is vital.  Every existing and future Rotary leader must understand that RI's sole purpose is to grow Rotary.  Leaders that are successful at growing Rotary should be appropriately recognized at conventions, institutes, and conferences simply because, when advancing the Object of Rotary, local

Monday, October 10, 2016

Misunderstanding Membership Development Can Derail Organizations.

            Throughout the last century the world's population grew and generally became more affluent. Rotary International (RI), an association of local, autonomous Rotary clubs, flourished.  Its charitable subsidiary, The Rotary Foundation, thrived by internally marketing worthwhile projects and programs that attracted contributions, primarily from members of North American Rotary clubs.  Toward the end of the century, RI undertook an ambitious worldwide service project to eliminate polio.  But on the horizon of this sunny optimistic future, a sinister, dark cloud loomed.  Income from dues-paying members stagnated.  Club membership in North America and some other regions began a gradual, steady decline.   To reverse this trend, RI leaders assumed that all they had to do was come up with tools that would encourage clubs to get more members.
            This self-centered assumption made it easy for RI's leaders to be seduced by the same siren melody that victimized many, and doomed a few, successful organizations.  It is not uncommon for leaders to believe that by concentrating on getting better at refining and improving their attributes, projects and programs that membership development is simply a matter of recruiting more members.  What leaders have difficulty comprehending, some until it is too late, is that their organizations should approach developing membership by being innovative in creating ways that their attributes, projects and programs enhance the membership experience.

Being innovative at enhancing the membership experience for Rotary clubs and Rotarians will face many obstacles.  Perhaps the most difficult will be overcoming two decades of misdirected priorities embedded in the minds of many Rotarians, most previous leaders, and many aspirants.  This can only be conquered by an intensive internal marketing initiative that delivers, in words and actions, Rotary's differentiating value proposition; a campaign centered around conveying the perception that