So now it’s time to look at the Committee structures in Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland and decide whether such a structure is fit for a modern organisation – or is it as some perceive simply being kept in place to ensure ‘the boys’ have jobs to move to?
In this blog trilogy we’ve looked at the organisation that is Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland and the importance of modernising its ‘standalone’ position in the world of Rotary. We followed up with a look at the importance of the General Secretary and how the role should be enhanced to make it the continuum in the organisation. And in this final instalment we consider the various committees and what role they are playing in taking the organisation forward.
Now let me be clear for the offset; I have previously sat on a RotaryGBI Committee and thoroughly enjoyed my experience. In fact, it was one of the reasons that after seeing some of what I did I was prompted to start RotaryBlogger.co.uk. As during my three year stint I witnessed the shuffling and re-shuffling of the deckhands from one Committee to another with many of the same faces appearing and re-appearing in a different ‘department’ simply wearing a different tie and turning up on a different day.
Therefore on the week that saw the closing date for Regular Rots to put themselves forward to become a member (or even Chair) of a RotaryGBI Committee we start by looking at the committees based at Alcester.
The Membership and Chairmanships open to Regular Rots were on the following Committees (the numbers in brackets highlights the number of members on each Committee):
- Constitutions: Governance and District Secretary Support
- Finance: Budgeting and District Treasurer Support
- Leadership Development and Training (10)
- Membership Development and Retention (8)
- Marketing, PR and Communications (9)
- Rotaract (6)
- Community Service (7)
- International Service (6)
- Vocational Service (7)
- Youth Service (9)
In addition to the above Committees which have been opened up to Regular Rots, there is also:
- Executive Committee: Chaired by the RotaryGBI President
- Personnel Committee (this is a sub-committee of the Executive Committee)
- Operations Review and Audit Committee
- Conference Committee
- Rotary Foundation (9)
There is also the other positions and committees:
- Council of Past Presidents
- Premises Trustees
- RIBI Donations Trust
Now assuming that each of the above are genuine bona-fide committees, this comes to a total 18 committees operating across these islands – pulling in a reasonable number committee members being pulled in from every corner of these islands.
It may not have been until this moment where the list is laid out as it is here where readers grasp the full impact as to the number of Committees being operated out of Alcester, And therefore surely questions must be asked as to whether each and every one of them are necessary in order to keep Rotary Clubs in these islands operating?
As outlined in the first blog of this series, RotaryGBI is the only territory to operate in the way it does. And it is clear that it is operating very differently to the other zones around the world.
RotaryGBI has all these committees as well as the General Council. Not forgetting every District has its own Council with the structure being completed by each Club having its respective Council/Board. So are all these committees and layers absolutely necessary? The reason I pose the question is due to the fact they don’t appear to be required anywhere else in the world…
Costs of operating committees
Now admittedly, RotaryGBI has made efforts to reduce the number of face-to-face meetings by replacing them with video/teleconferencing facilities; but ‘non-virtual’ meetings still take place with the members of each committee being called to attend on-site sessions at Alcester.
It would be interesting to find out exactly what costs are behind operating the various committees across a 12 months period to highlight the true ‘value for money‘ of such an exercise.
Now we hear the word CHANGE used a lot in terms of Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland – with an acceptance from senior Rotarians that the change-agenda is happening but that it will take time. However, is anyone looking at changes in the committee structure? And by looking at it – this means really looking at…not just tinkering about at the edges.
We all know that there are many individuals who give of their time; their resources and finances in order to be part of RotaryGBI Committee. I even know of some Committee members who rarely (if ever) claim expenses. But all too often we will hear the ‘jobs for the boys’ comments made in relation to RotaryGBI Committees – in fact it has been made on a number of occasions in the comments section of RotaryBlogger.co.uk. But is that because this is how almost 20 committees and their respective positions are perceived by those who actually care about the future of the organisation?
Surely this brings us back to the points made in the previous blog in the series that the General Secretary and their team must be given more autonomy to manage and operate ‘the business‘. Let the professionals be professional and do what they are appointed to do – but support them by way of a smaller and more streamlined committee/board structure.
If someone was to be given a blank page and the opportunity to start all over again what structure would we end up with these islands?
Could I be so bold and suggest that we actually ask the General Secretary to create a structure using their strategic experience which would work in these islands. Give the General Secretary the clean sheet of paper and some basic guidelines to reduce the number of committees; reduce the cost of running the committees while creating an accountable structure that would monitor the work of the paid professionals.
Expertise from the Regular Rots
In creating the new structure and removing a substantial number of Committees – we would not necessarily throw the baby out with the bathwater as I am sure many will suggest in the blog comments at the end. No, instead of Committees of up to 10 people, the General Secretary and/or Executive Committee should have the right to call upon ad-hoc expertise from Regular Rots to work on projects alongside the Secretariat staff team.
But otherwise, perhaps let the Districts have a greater say in the operation of their own areas. Let’s be honest, there are many examples of best practice around these islands that work in a particular location but don’t work when tried in other areas of the country.
A one-size fits all is not always the right way to go – perhaps it’s actually more about devolution rather than revolution!
As in any organisational structure – assistance that has a ‘cost’ attached to it (as the Committee structure does) has to be questioned in terms of its value for money and what it adds to the organisation?
Much of the current committee structure was set up many, many years ago in terms of the way RotaryGBI was being operated then. There has not be a big enough shift-change in terms of the way the organisation is operating now in a modern e-world.
Yes – inviting applications from Regular Rots to the Committees is admirable, but is it really doing anything more than tampering about at the edges? It will be interesting to see how many Regulars are actually interested in standing for the committees. And if insufficient expressions of interest are received in ratio to the number of committee vacancies, what will happen? Will it be back to the old system of appointments being made by the President?
But just one final point – if this does prove to be the case that applicants volunteer to fill the posts; instead of taking this as people not being interested, why not look to question the system and take that as an opportunity to create a smaller committee structure, with direct expertise in the field an individual wishes to serve.
It’s about quality not quantity remember…so a smaller committee structure with less of the apparent Rotary ‘nepotism’ could and should create a clearer, more refined and streamlined structure – which may actually focus the strategy of the organisation in a direction that re-engages more of the Regular Rots who unfortunately see the current structure as out-of-date, expensive, self-fulfilling and possibly even self-rewarding…but only if you get into the inner-sanctum.