Ideas Factory sheds light on club innovation

A facilitator leads the discussion during the Ideas Factory.

By Daniel Vankov, president of the Rotary Club of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

At the Rotary Club of Brisbane, we attempt to be the motor behind major community initiatives in our community, in Queensland, and beyond. As members, we have a duty to continue our impact and expand it. Getting a good measure of the club, our strengths and weaknesses, so we can build on them is not easy. For humans, we can look in a mirror to do a self-assessment. At least externally. But organizations don’t have it so easy. We knew we needed to create the right mirror to get a good look inside our club.

The Queensland University of Technology launched an “Ideas Factory” in 2016 which provides future business leaders, executive level MBAs and other MBAs an opportunity to leverage their experience, insight, and collective efforts to solve real world industry problems. Our club quickly recognised the potential synergies. Are not those future leaders our target group; the people we would like to see as members? We seized the opportunity and assembled a room full of these individuals to help us answer this question: How can we promote community engagement amongst Brisbane professionals in the central business district through the Rotary Club of Brisbane?

Daniel Vankov fills the participants in on his club’s activities.

Twenty-three participants, divided in five groups and supported by two facilitators and four Rotarians, pushed their collective brain power to the limit for a day. All sacrificed their weekend to make sure the Rotary Club of Brisbane can prevail in its mission. A structured process ensured that participants got results. We made available to them in advance a summary of the club, including membership data, club history, club strategy and other relevant information. As president, I spoke to them about Rotary in general and the club in particular. I had to answer quite a few tricky questions, but it paved the way for fruitful and creative work later on.

Each of the five groups had its own “cave” to look for “light.” Our Rotary team had the task of moving between the groups and answering any questions that came up. The results were impressive. They were video recorded and are currently being shown to our members one video per meeting. As a result, every meeting we learn something new about what the world around us thinks and believes both about Rotary and about our club.

Even if that might sound like a nice end to our exercise, it’s actually just the beginning. What was learned will be turned into a comprehensive strategic plan for our club. We’ve recruited a strategy consultant to assist. She will be working in close cooperation with 1) our president-elect and president-nominee to incorporate their views and aspirations for the coming two years, 2) the Ideas Factory participants themselves and 3) all club members including some former members. We will grow as a club, together with the people we serve!

Encourage members to get involved for a more meaningful Rotary experience with the ideas in Connect for Good and other membership resources.

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