Home' Rotary Down Under : March 2014 (International) Contents EDITOR’S MAILBOX
10 Issue 559. March 2014
Editorials too close to the truth for some
I was so bemused by Bill Bowler ’s letter
(RDU Dec/Jan 2013-14) that I re-read
Mark Wallace’s editorial from the
October issue – and I’m still bemused.
Although I’m neither demotivated,
insulted nor embarrassed.
The one thing I have found
refreshing over the past couple
of years is Mark’s challenge to us
all to examine “our Rotary” to see
if we are in the best position to
appeal to a contemporary audience
of potential Rotarians. Sure, he is
sometimes a little irreverent, and
sometimes we may feel a little
uncomfortable – perhaps because
he is closer to the truth than we
would care to admit. But I have
never felt that Mark’s editorials in
any way demeaned either Rotary or
Rotarians. Perhaps those who feel
that way should be prepared for a
little introspection, something we all
need to do from time to time.
There have been several attempts
over the years to have a “Rotary
Australia”. However, we’ve not yet
been able to convince the Board
of Rotary International (not Rotary
US as Bill alleges) to allow that to
happen. This, in part, has been due
to the detail of our submission, as
well as, perhaps, a reticence on the
part of the Board to replicate the RI
British Isles organisation.
Bill is correct on one point; it will
be to his detriment that he doesn’t
continue to read Mark’s editorials. If
he feels insulted, perhaps he should
also reflect on the appropriateness
of his labelling the Editor as “resident
‘know it all’ Mark Wallace”. I wonder
how this fits with The Four Way Test?
And before anyone accuses me of
bias, yes, Mark Wallace is a member
of District 9710 and such is the
regard in which I hold him, I have
asked him to be Assistant Governor
in 2014-15 . He is a fine Rotarian
who puts Service Above Self, but is
also prepared to challenge us.
District Governor Elect D9710
Rotary Club of Hall, ACT
For many years the first page I turned to in Rotary
Down Under was the humour – the rest of the
magazine seemed very worthy, but somewhat dull.
Today, however, it has all changed. The highlight
pages for me in RDU are always Mark Wallace’s
editorial and the selection of letters for the Editor’s
Mailbox. This is Rotary in the raw. This is where
Rotary gets challenged, where Rotarians let it all
hang out as they rage about an issue that affects
them. These are the Rotary thinkers we need to value
if we are to act strategically to continue to make
Rotary relevant to our changing world.
Bill Bowler’s heartfelt rave in the December issue
is one such example. He is clearly frustrated with
the lack of effective communication from Rotary
International to his club. Mark Wallace, clearly
frustrated, tried to explain that everything had
been communicated from RI many times to District
Governors and District Governors Elect at their
training and at Rotary Conventions.
But this doesn’t mean Rotarians at club level
receive the message.
One of the three essentials of effective leadership
is communication. In Rotary, at both the District and
club level, I find members of clubs are not involved
in deciding the future of Rotary because they are not
receiving and using vital messages.
One of the reasons for this is the complexity of our
organisation in Australia. In my District we have over
40 District Committees, almost as many committees
as we have clubs, and the noise generated by
multiple communications means vital messages get
lost in the babble. Rotary International itself is not
shy in sending out messages. My inbox gets clogged
with broadcast emails – all of them very worthy I’m
sure, but many of them are repetitive and therefore
get deleted before they are read.
If communication is to be effective it has to be sim-
ple and selective and delivered in a way Rotarians can
receive it. The weakness at the moment is that Rotary
is an organisation that communicates from leader to
leader. Even in the broader environment, less than one
per cent of Rotarians attend international conventions
and in Australia about 20 per cent (excluding part-
ners) in a good year attend District Conferences.
So how are we to get messages to the rest of us?
Rotary seems to have forgotten it created an
organisation that only invites business and community
leaders to join. Automatically its members are going
to be time poor and selective in absorbing non-
essential communications. If it wants to get Rotarians
informed outside of their clubs it needs to review its
communications strategy – be selective, focus on only
the essential and communicate it well. Listening to Bill
would be a good start.
Past Governor D9520
Rotary Club of Norwood, SA
Rotary in the raw
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