Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Engaging Change - Fellowship, Community & Kaizen

I wrote the first version of this paper in 1998 whilst trying to assess how Cumbria County Council might better involve communities in decision making.

At the time the key issues were seen as the need to;
Ø  develop the Communities of Cumbria
Ø  invite Citizens to inform decision making and support the development of their neighbourhoods
Ø  develop fellowships of members, staff and citizens
Ø  use the principles of continuous improvement (Kaizen)
All of these being underpinned by the need to show that the authority was providing "Best Value" to all.
The parallels with where Rotary finds itself now are uncanny.   We need to;
  • enable our Clubs to (re)engage with their communities
  • support Rotarians as they identify community needs and the needs of their own Clubs
  • bring RI (RIBI), Districts and Clubs closer together
  • encourage each other to Engage Rotary to Change Lives
and enable of all this in times of austerity, falling membership and increasing pressure on peoples time.

The original version of this paper took a look at some of the ideas behind Community Building, Fellowship and Kaizen.

One question that was asked was, "Are Fellowship and Community one in the same? ".  We could add to this by asking if a Rotary Club is a Community in its own right, or just a fellowship of like minded people.?

The following definition of Community helps us understand why they probably are the same ….

"A Group of two or more people who, regardless of the diversity of their personal backgrounds or ideology, age, race, gender, sexuality or politics, have been able to accept, transcend and celebrate their differences.  This enables them to communicate openly and to work and play together in a generous and rewarding way"[1]

Does this definition resonate with you?   After all Rotary unites people from all continents, cultures, and occupations—it's truly one of our greatest strengths. Our members are leaders in their fields and communities. Our diverse perspectives help us to see problems differently—and help us solve them in communities throughout the world.

So why is it important to be talking about Fellowship & Community in this way?

If we are to get closer to the communities we purport to serve and, as a result, show that we are able to change the way engage with them.  Perhaps we are going to have to remove some of the "baggage" that we are often accused of having.  "We've always done it this way", "When am I going to have the time to change", "We've heard all of this before but nothing changes".  We are going to have to challenge ourselves and our colleagues to enable the (Re)Engagement of Rotary with the communities in which we live work and play.

There are many Rotarians that state that they don't their Rotary to be like business, however we have to be business like and this is where the link to Kaizen comes in.   The Kaizen philosophy assumes that our way of life, our culture, deserves to be constantly improved.

“Continuous improvement in personal life, home life, social life and working life as a whole.  As related to the workplace, Kaizen means continuing improvement involving managers and workers, customers and suppliers alike.  Quality is anything that can be improved.  “[2]

If we agree that we have to change the way we do things or do different things (Re-Engineer to Re-Engage) then Kaizen based ideas can provide some of the tools to help.  But Kaizen is a philosophy; it has a culture of its own.  Is this the culture that Rotary needs?
In order to Re-Engineer in a way that ensures we keep people with us and motivate them along the way then we should use Kaizen techniques.   Kaizen can be seen as having a culture of partnership very similar to the ideas of Fellowship and Community highlighted earlier. 

It is clear that we have to enable everyone to cope with the need to “Engage Change to allow Rotary to Live”  Our internal and external communities who are being invited to give their constructive view of our services and how we provide them, perhaps having to think about what they want from Rotary for the first time.  The Rotarian who has been aching to have their say for so long and is now being invited to contribute to developments.  Or even the "We've always done it this way" group who need to be inspired to see over the horizon.

We have a wide range of people who need to be able to grasp this culture of continual change and improvement quickly.
Kaizen philosophy encourages people to…
Ø  Discard conventional fixed ideas
Ø  Think of how to do it, not why it can’t be done
Ø  Not to make excuses.  Start by questioning current practices
Ø  Not to seek perfection.  Do it right even if for **[3]% of the target
Ø  Correct it right away, if you make a mistake
Ø  Not to spend money on Kaizen, use your wisdom
Ø  Realise that Wisdom is brought out when faced with hardship
Ø  Ask “WHY ?” five times and seek root causes
Ø  Seek the wisdom of ten people rather than the knowledge of one
Ø  Accept that Kaizen ideas are infinite

The inclusive nature of this philosophy is typically promoted through the use of such tools as Quality Circles, Focus Groups etc.  In order for these developmental groups to work successfully they need to be a "Community" in their own right.  Rotary already has many appropriate tools available and is developing more.  Many Clubs are already taking a look at what they are doing and we should encourage many more to do so.  

[1] From Community Building Insights, produced by Community Building in Britain
[2] NASA Langley Research Centre
[3] What ever agreed % is appropriate to the service being provided