John Cox, District 71 – Program Quality Director
Excellence is one of our Toastmasters Values, – but what does excellence look like? How do we measure it? In sport, excellence is measured in terms of world-class performance – it is obvious and easier to define. Excellence also comes in many disguises and it changes over time, what was excellent this year can become the norm in subsequent years.
Quality is another one of those ill-defined words and it is said that quality is in the “eye of the beholder.” Is this a quality article??? Is ours a Quality Club? How can we measure and target quality improvements?
The best vehicle we have for measuring Club Quality is Moments of Truth https://www.toastmasters.org/~/media/E017290D7ED0458C8C278A364689F7AF.ashx.
Based upon an original book by Jan Carlzon the President of Scandinavian Airlines “a Moment of Truth is an episode when a member or guest comes in contact with any aspect of the Toastmasters Experience and forms an impression of a club’s quality and service”
Measurement is fraught with danger – measuring the wrong things can deliver the wrong results and there can be a tendency to corrupt the reporting of numbers particularly if rewards are linked to them.
Einstein said, “Not everything that counts can be counted…and not everything that’s counted truly counts.”
When it comes to goal setting there is much confusion surrounding the terminology we use, particularly with goals, targets, objectives, strategies, tactics etc. However, does it matter? Yes, it does. What you measure and aim for is generally, what you get, and it might fall far short of your real desired outcome.
For example, do you want to gain a qualification, or do you really want to increase your income? The two are weakly related. Achieving the first does not naturally guarantee the second. Ask the thousands of graduates who have recently left University.
So, let us discuss:
Goals versus Tactics
I’ve spent nearly 50 years advising organisations on improving performance – whether that be improving their bottom line, increasing revenues or just getting more out of their resources.
One of the key things that I have discovered is that many people confuse goals with tactics. They target an activity, a tactic, or an initiative, forgetting what the real goal is. They get enthusiastic and totally wrapped-up in an initiative losing sight of what they are really trying to achieve.
Harvard Business School Professor Emeritus John P. Kotter revealed that 70 percent of transformational change initiatives fail (Harvard Business Review, 1995). Later studies have produced comparable results. A 2014 Deloitte study (http://bit.ly/2NILABE) of more than 5,000 initiatives over the past 15 years calculated an aggregate success rate of only 4.5 percent.
Many organisations adopt and apply their attention entirely on the latest flavour of the month, particularly if there is an accolade or award to be achieved at the end of it – for example, a customer, quality, technology or process-based change initiative – and lose sight of the fact that what they really wanted to do was deliver more and better services to their customers, increase revenue and profitability.
Too often, the focus of attention becomes the tactic and not the goal.
What is clear is that individuals and the organisations that focus on the end goal achieve far better results than the ones who focus on the initiative (tactic) or achieving the accolade or award.
We should always ask, – Why? Why are we doing something, what is our goal? In Japan, they have a phrase that roughly translates that if you have not asked Why 5 Times you will not get to the heart of an issue or the root cause of a problem.
Personally, whilst I was glad to have achieved the occasional business and personal award I never lost sight of the fact that employee and client satisfaction and the resulting revenues/fee income/profitability were my ultimate goals. Competitions, Awards and learning were merely tactics that helped me move toward my goal.
So, what does this have to do with Toastmasters? Do we tend to be wrapped up in all the learning, achieving awards and becoming Distinguished? Maybe, just maybe, we forget that personally our goal is to win more clients/customers, gain promotion at work, earn more money and improve our quality of life. In addition, as for our clubs, is it to satisfy our members and guests, to grow and retain our memberships, and to make our club the best it can possibly be – better this year than last?
It is too easy to become quantity focused, because it is easier to measure, and not quality focused. My experience of working in Japan and with Japanese companies taught me that if you focus on quality, quantity would follow. Conversely, if you focus on quantity, quality will suffer.
If we focus on increasing the quality of our leadership, the quality of our club meetings, the quality of how we promote our clubs and how we satisfy our visitors and our members, our clubs will grow, our members will achieve their goals and we will retain more of our members.
Striving for quality and excellence must be our club mantra.
Carrying out Moments of Truth in your club will certainly help.
I look forward to working with you this year.
What is Happening with Contests?
Two significant things have happened this year that will impact on our next round of Speech Contests:
1. The District Council voting at the Spring Conference in Cork that, in the light of the TI Board Decision to have only one District Conference a year, all four speech contests will now be held starting at the May 2019 Spring Conference in Norwich.
2. With the growth of our District, we now have 12 Divisions, meaning that we will need to run 8 speech semi-finals and 4 finals starting with the May 2019 Spring Conference in Norwich.
But how does this affect our clubs? Well the good news is that it’s business as usual.
Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests
Clubs will still hold their Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests around September. Area Contests will follow in October and Division Contests must be completed by 30th November.
Division Winners will need to be available for the Friday semi-finals of the Spring conference in May 2019.
International Speech and Evaluation Contests
Clubs will hold their International Speech and Evaluation Contests around February/March 2019.
Area and Division Contests will be in April in readiness for the District semi-finals and finals in May 2019. Division Winners will again need to be available for the Friday semi-finals of the Spring conference in May.
One other major change is that following the District Finals, the International Speech Contest winner will proceed to a Region Quarterfinal. This will be conducted by a video that will have been recorded at the District Finals.
The latest Speech Contest Rulebook (https://www.toastmasters.org/leadership-central/speech-contests) sets out the requirements for the video recording that the Norwich Conference team will need to follow.
Therefore, exciting times are ahead!
The Pathways Paths and Projects Catalogue
– 66 pages that describe every Path and all the associated Projects can now be found at http://d71toastmasters.org/club-leadership-Pathways-paths-and-projects-catalogue/
Pathways Evaluation Forms
The complete set of forms your officers will ever need can now be found via http://d71toastmasters.org/club-leadership-Pathways-forms-for-evaluators/
 Carlzon, J. (1987) Moments of Truth, Cambridge MA: Ballinger. 135 pages
 Kotter, J. P. (1995) Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail. Harvard Business Review, 73, 59-67.