Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Report 2

It seems that I read more books while flying than when I'm on the ground. Not sure if that means I fly too much, or if I need to find time to read more. Regardless, I did read a book titled "Who Killed Change?" by Ken Blanchard, John Britt, Judd Hoekstra, and Pat Zigarmi. Like most books on leadership it is designed for business, but is quite applicable to the Grange.

It is a quick read and offers simple clear ideas of who can aid change to become permanent and how they can support the change process. It is written like an old mystery and will give you something to reflect on.

If you've never read anything by Ken Blanchard, this would be a good one to start with. It is well written and gets to the point quickly and keeps it simple. This is a great book to start your leadership library or to add a basic principle styled book to your existing collection.

If you wish to improve your leadership skills, grab a book like "Who Killed Change?" from the business or self help section of your friendly bookstore and start turning pages!

Saturday, September 26, 2009


This morning when I check my email, I saw a notification of a story about the Grange in the State of Oregon. After going to the newspaper's website and reading the story, I want to share my thoughts on publicity.

It is critical that when our members speak to their local media that they be positive. Gloom, doom, and pessimism is gladly reported by the media in most cases. They may even slant stories to create controversy or excitement in a story. They seldom will focus on the positive side of things. We must not give them the opportunity to present a negative view of our organization.

There is no harm in telling the media about the good things in our Grange, but there can be great harm in telling them them about our problems. Most reporters will take the attitude of the people they interview and bring it into the story.

When you deal with the media honesty is the only policy. However, you don't need to bring up the negative things. If they ask, answer with a positive take on the problem. Remember you don't have control over what they print, but you do have control how you present the facts and your attitude.

Let's not take the negative side of things to the media. Local newspapers, radio stations, and even TV stations do not go looking to harm organizations within their communities, but they will report when members say negative things. Remember that the media wants to hear about people and action.

We create public perception of our Grange, let's make sure that perception is positive and encouraging to potential members who may wish to join.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Book Report

Read a great book on the plane home Wednesday evening. "How the Mighty Fall" by Jim Collins.

Collins studies businesses as they can be tracked and analyzed in a number of ways. However, much of his analysis is applicable to non-profit organizations such as the Grange.

He found five steps in the process of decline. He found that the time in each step could vary immensely and that decline could be reversed in the first four steps of decline. He defined the steps as: #1, Hubris born of success; #2, Undisciplined pursuit of more; #3, Denial of risk and peril; #4, Grasping for salvation; and #5, Capitulation to irrelevance or death.

In reflecting on what he wrote, I realize I've heard from all levels of the Grange some of the symptoms of some of the steps. I will say I've never heard indicators of Step 5 from the National level or from my home state. I have heard it from a number of Community and Pomona Granges and maybe one or two states.

After reading the book, I am even more enthused by what is happening at National Grange and many State and Community Granges. We are on the way back to being one of America's leading organizations. Unlike business, we can rescue some of our Granges that have reached step 5. All it takes is new blood and a desire to share our organization with others.

Read this book and share your perceptions of it with your fellow members.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Volunteering Part Two

Yesterday at Cox's Chapel Grange, VA, one of the members talked about volunteering and what the definition was. When he asked for a definition, I challenged him to find one that is appropriate for his Grange. However, after reflecting on his questions I decided to add to my first post on volunteering.

Grange membership is a volunteer action. We choose to affiliate with a others of like mind and within a structure that gives rules and rights to each member. No member is required to be a member, we choose to pay our dues.

Each member volunteers how much time they will give to the Grange cause. Attending meetings, participating in community service projects, fund-raising efforts, and other activities are choices each member make. Membership in the Grange can never be based, nor dues set, by which or how many of these things we do as volunteers.

Volunteering is an action in which no one pays you to do something. If you're being paid, you are not a volunteer in the strict sense of the word.

So why do people volunteer?

Volunteering gives people the opportunity to learn leadership skills that can benefit them in other parts of their life. What we do in the Grange often gives us lessons that aid us throughout life.

Volunteering gives people personal satisfaction. We make friends and are with our friends at Grange and our various activities. We get a sense of achievement by being a part of a team that accomplishes a project. We get to feel the pride that comes from seeing a personal goal achieved by the Grange. Much of the reward of volunteer comes from the feelings we get from being part of a team that does things an individual may not be able to do.

Volunteering is about giving back to others. We can do this in many ways, but Grange is one effective way to share our blessings with others. Why do you volunteer?

Saturday, September 12, 2009


This morning I was watching the news and saw a story on people volunteering, and of course the President of the United States was featured painting a wall in his dress shirt and slacks. I love seeing stories like this as involving people in community service, educational activities, and legislative efforts is positive and empowering for each individual.

Grangers have been volunteering to help people, strengthen their community, and improve society in general since the birth of our organization in 1867. As an organization that is made up of volunteers, we understand the importance of giving back to our communities. No member is forced to do anything, we choose how we are going to participate, we choose when, we choose what we are willing to do.

The difference between volunteers for many organizations and the Grange is that in our Order, each member is empowered to suggest what, when, where, who, and how we are going to do as a group. Each member has the opportunity to suggest projects or activities, the chance to suggest and implement changes to the program, and the choice of whether to participate or not. Our members own the community service projects and the educational and legislative efforts.

We already have important people volunteering within and through our organization. Just because the news doesn't cover our efforts do not change the fact that we are impacting people in a positive manner. Grange members are also looking for those who feel a desire to give back to their community and want the opportunity to be a part of the decision or leadership process.

Grange members are regular people who understand that working together as a team empowers each member and that the satisfaction from volunteering can not be bought.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


When I think of the National Grange staff, I think of a talented group of people who give 100% to being part of a team whose purpose is helping to create growth in the Grange. Having been a member for over 35 years, I've had the opportunity to work with various National Staff members and on occasion been impressed and at other times disappointed by different people. Over the past two years, I've seen each of our current staff members grow as people, Grange leaders, and as friends.

The credit should always go to the team that achieves the goals. I do not believe that the leader ever does as much as the team, even though they often get much of the credit. I know that my staff team definitely makes me look good, often in spite of what I am doing. Each member of this National Grange staff team does great work, exceeds my expectations and adds value to our efforts. They understand that they are working for the local Grange members.

Each staff member brings different skills and abilities to their various tasks. They are willing to wear different hats and help each other as needed. I am proud to be given the opportunity to lead this talented team and truly look forward to each day that we work together on behalf of the Grange.

No matter what their title or job, your National Grange staff has earned my appreciation and I hope our members will appreciate what they do for our organization. I challenge any member who has a pleasant experience when dealing with one of our staff to send them an email, with a cc to me, thanking them for their effort. It is a human trait to gripe when we are dissatisfied, are you willing to brag when you're pleased?