The Winds of Change

Editor’s note: The following speech has been given at a number of 2010-2011 District Conferences in Australia.

by Stuart Heal, Rotary International Director

Before we talk change we must recognise one size does not fit all. Clubs and Rotarians must be able to make changes applicable to them and their environment.

Change is up to us. It cannot be driven “top down” The fact it took 4 or 5 Councils on Legislation(COL) to approve youth activities (New Generations) as the fifth avenue of services illustrates how slowly we change.

COL approves our RI strategic plan every three years. COL is not strategic. We need to work harder preparing our resolutions and selecting our attendees. Is the current formula the best way forward? I suspect it has become a dinosaur.

COL consists entirely of Past District Governors. Are they best group to set our future course? My suggestion is to get the best people there and this includes new Rotarians….even Rotaractors.

The strategic plan is now aligned with the budgeting process and this should enhance the chances of implementation. The strategic planning committee has recommended to the Rotary International board to increase the level of money available for District Public Relations (PR) grants.

We need new clubs. Options include eClubs, new generation clubs, no meal clubs, happy hour clubs, traditional clubs and satellite clubs. The board is set to pilot satellite options so watch out for information.

Are we ready for the membership enquiry and PR challenge when the world wakes up to the announcement we have beaten polio?

There seems to be a growing discontent with the Future Vision Plan and still a lack of understanding of the Rotary Foundation. It is time to review this structure and branding of the two organisations. Should we all be one?

It is encouraging to see progress being made with combined District PR in Australia. 17 Districts have combined this year and hopefully all 22 will next year. A combined approach will stretch our limited dollars further

The thrust of our direction must be strategic and therefore longer term planning. The annual theme mentality is a major impediment and needs to be reviewed.

The strategic plan should over arch all plans at club, district and International levels of Rotary.

We must move from a culture of attendance to one of engagement. We are service clubs not attendance clubs. I believe it is time for clubs to manage their own attendance requirements to meet the needs of their members and communities.

We must use contemporary language. Why do we have a Rotary vocabulary different from our work and family lives?

Rules are potentially strangling this organisation and are used to create problems instead of solving them by too many Rotarians. I believe rigid structures stifle spirit and Rotary needs more spirit.

The board is reviewing a new “core essence” statement following the review by North Western University. It says what and who we are really well.

A worldwide network of inspired individuals who translate their passions into relevant social causes to change lives in communities.

The students also said the following and reported in contemporary language:

1. We under estimate the mentoring and networking opportunities offer new members

2. They suggest we use the word integrity and not ethics

3.  Their big words for me were “empowerment, revitalise, energise”

Rotary wants to empower you to be a better friend better professional, better citizen of the World.

“We need to power up our clubs to ensure a sustainable revitalisation of our organisation” The time to empower, energise and revitalise is now.

Finally we need to become more customer focused and driven. Our customer for me is the benefactor of our work. Many argue our customer is the Rotarian or even the club but I think that is too inward looking. We need to ensure our work is targeted and meeting the needs of our communities. If it is, we will have active clubs and they will become BIGGER, BETTER and BOLDER.

About John Borst

John Borst’s career in education spans the years 1960 to 1996. During those 36 years, he spent an equal amount of time working int he English language, Public and Catholic school boards. Borst taught in both elementary and high school environments. Positions of responsibilities held included department head in Geography, curriculum coordinator of Social and Environmental Studies, Principal, Education Officer with the Ministry of Education, Superintendent of Schools, and Superintendent of Student Services. Borst retired in 1996 as Director of Education for the legacy Dryden Board of Education. During this time, Borst has lived in the Ontario communities of Brampton, Toronto, Newmarket, Thunder Bay, Aurora and Dryden. Currently, Borst splits his time between Dryden and Toronto. Since retirement, Borst has served as a Supervisory Officer with a remote School Authority; been a freelance writer of articles on education in particular for Education Today, the magazine of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA); founded and edited from 2006 - 2010 the Education blog Tomorrow’s Trust: A Review of Catholic Education; and from 2003-2010 was a trustee of the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
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