Eight steps Rotary must take to be a "Smart" Organization

“Smart’ is the word of the century. Smartphones, smart cars, smart cities, and smart organisations fill the pages of city newspapers, magazines and scholarly journals.
Organizationally, Rotary is stuck in the last century and seems to have no idea how to extract itself from the vertical pyramid and ever-narrowing range of leadership options.
The present procedures and structures were put into place largely as a reaction to three seminal events. The desire to create a more peaceful presidential succession process, the struggle for control between the board of directors and the Council on Legislation and the desire of men to ensure that women never gain full access to the presidency all conspired to create an organisation which is now a relic.
While other organisations became nimble, able to adapt in real time, more horizontally organised and able to identify and respond to the opportunities quickly, Rotary plodded on.
However, change is occurring so quickly today that Rotary may be able to leapfrog from its current neanderthal position to the next level a “smart organisation”.   
One example of leapfrog technology is the development of the cellphone system. Many third world countries had a very limited landline telephone system. Today those countries have cellular systems developed at a fraction of the cost and everyone has a personal phone. In Countries like Canada during the late ‘70s and ’80s large urban school systems had schools connected by ethernet lines. Rural school systems, some covering thousands of kilometres squared were still living like it was the ‘60s. In the early ‘90s, they leapfrogged the cabled system to the internet based intranet.
Kara Swisher writing at Recode, (May 1, 2019) has declared Web 3.0 “on its last legs”. [for those unfamiliar with the Web 3.0 term, it is the society created by the iPhone and all the other “smartphones” which in turn beget Uber, Airbnb, Netflix and changed Facebook and Twitter, into giants].
The new revolution is “The Internet of Things” or IoT.  At its heart is AI – Artificial Intelligence or more accurately Machine Learning. As Swisher puts it, “Everything that can be digitised will be digitised.” It includes “robotics and automation; self-driving; endless choice; privacy under assault, when data is gold; continuous partial hacking; continuous partial attention; and political and social unrest.”
Rotary will not be immune from either the technology or the social unrest it will generate. The recent #ItsTimeRI campaign is but a tiny example of how Web 3.0 breached barriers, reached into an inner-sanctum and forced a Rotarian to be more transparent than in all past nominations combined.
To try and conceptualise a smart service organisation I have borrowed from the literature on Smart cities, organisations and other sources.
Characteristics of Smart Cities
Characteristics of
Smart Organizations
Morales Project Consulting
Characteristic from
Academic Sources
Finance and auditing 
  1. Joined-up action. Departments need to talk to each other so that, for a properly joined-up sustainability strategy, say, the Transport Department is not working against the interests of the planning department and so on.
  2. CEO buy-in. This means that the chief executive needs to be on board with sustainability agenda and have hardwired it into all the other departments, with the absolute essential inclusion of the finance department.
  3. New economics. Finance departments need to have the ability to successfully make the financial case for the investments required to deliver sustainability and regeneration by factoring in the financial aspects of ancillary benefits of measures to be taken, such as job creation, reducing inequalities, reducing crime and congestion, and improving citizen health and well-being.
  4. Modelling and auditing. Life-cycle analysis, carbon accounting, or ecological-footprinting need to be applied consistently across the board so that different strategies can be properly compared and to maximise overall environmental, carbon and cost savings. Targets must be monitored and properly phased, with rewards.
  5. Networking. It's very important that influencers within city administrations can travel to other cities or network with them online to see what they have done and bring back the best innovatory practices so that they become embedded everywhere. That's partly what this website is for.
Training. All the above implies a great need for a constant program of in-service training to keep personnel up-to-date with the latest techniques, thinking and technologies
Smart cities and crowd-sourcing
I am kind of interested in what will happen with smart, connected cities but I'm not yet convinced that all this technology is necessarily sustainable.
  1. Tapping the wisdom of crowds, i.e. the people who live there, to get them to tell you what they think will make their cities more liveable has great potential however, with or without the use of social media or open data. We should be asking them: how can we make the best of what we've got? This is especially true of cities in developing countries where there is a danger of favelas and shantytowns being bulldozed for unsustainable developments, instead of helping the people who live there to help themselves and supporting them in what they need. They are no different from people in developed world cities, in wanting to improve their community and quality-of-life and having the skills to do so.
Collaborative partnerships. Successful sustainable projects happen when those at the top, in government, and those at the grassroots work together instead of against each other.
The term "smart organisation", is used for knowledge-driven organisations, that are internetworked, and dynamically adaptive to new organisational forms and practices.
A Smart organisation is a Learning one as well as agile in its ability to create and exploit the opportunities offered by the new economy.
A Smart Organization is an organization that is safe, principle driven and value-focused.
Smart Organizations foster and facilitate aligned engagement from its members and receives, embraces and acts upon proven tools wherever they are found.
Smart Organizations have developed an internal competency to self develop or acquire actionable methods and tools.
Three characteristics of the smart organization make it unique.
Firstly, it is committed to building collaborative partnerships, which encourage and promote the “clash” of ideas.
It is customer focused and meeting or better, surpassing customer expectations is recognised as a key success factor.
Secondly, the smart organisation survives and prospers in the new economy because it can respond positively and adequately to change and uncertainty.
Thirdly, the smart organisation identifies and exploits new opportunities by leveraging the power of “smart” resources, i.e. information, knowledge, relationships, brands, and innovative and collaborative intelligence.
“relationships and engagement are crucial tools” – Smart Cities Institute, Mellon University
All connection by fibre @necessity!
Push to encourage leadership in the use of data and evidence in decision making
Better and more frequent use of decision analysis professionals
The smart organization has to deal with a society in which
-humanity has been allowed to talk to each other without gatekeepers or any other mechanisms of control.
-Privacy is no longer possible
-Screen time creates depression
-Surveillance economies using facial recognition and intense monitoring of its citizens’ every move and keystroke already exist and will continue to grow
Manufactures of electronic products have identified four characteristics of smart enterprises:
The embedded innovation,
The solutionists,
The aggregator, and
The Synergist
Can we put these “product solutions” into service categories?
I have barely scratched the surface of the characteristics an organisation of the future will have to demonstrate and factor into its behaviour. Swisher ends with this statement:
“Long ago, Steve Jobs launched a marketing campaign that urged people to ‘Think Different.’ That has never been more true, except I would adjust it slightly. To face the modern age — and the future we have created but don’t yet understand — we not only have to think different as all these new technologies roll out ever more quickly. We have to be different.”
What has Rotary got to do to become a “smart organisation? How do we as Rotarians have to think differently about Rotary? And How does Rotary have to be different?
1. Recognise that our structure, bylaws and traditions all act as gatekeepers and other mechanisms of control. These have to go!
2. If we are to solve our growth problem, we have to collect more data on our member's characteristics, so we know what they are but also so we know who in our society is most likely to be future members and target them. In other words, we have to use AI for our benefit.
3. We have to be a constant “learning” organisation, in which the only constants are reacting and adjusting to change through innovations without any barriers.
4. We have to view our vocations as a resource to be crowdsourced as means of making the future Rotary more innovative, secure and lean financially.
5. We have to recognise that the chaos inherent in democratic decision making has its advantages and learn to live with it rather than try to control it. To that end, new ways of using AI will likely evolve to bring order to the chaos.
6. We are likely to find that the lines between our work life, our home life and our service to the community life (both local, national and internationally) are going to become very blurred.  
7. In an interconnected world solving the problems of the World will require greater use of partnerships between governments, corporations, not-for-profits especially through greater data sharing.
8. Our 2019-2024 Strategic planning shows our senior administrative team, and our directors are aware of many of these trends. Like it or not the frozen middle is the body of Past District Governors who possess the authority to maintain the status-quo.  In that case, it is we the members of Clubs who have to become more engaged, less deferential to the rules as they exist and the change agents which will create the Smart Rotary Organisation.