Organization Decline

I wrote this in one of the comments in Daylight on the subject of why the organization have not grown.

I always wonder why we don’t have full-time speaker, who are strong in study, such as a pastor of a Church, who speaks really well and can motivate and encourage people in attendance. When we have good speakers, even members will want to bring other friends to listen. For the past few years, all the speaking responsibilities are put on the han and district leaders but they are han/district for a reason – their faith is just starting out and many are not even strong in study. How many people these days attend discussion meeting and go back feeling encouraged and fulfilled? Or do they feel bored and empty? I know the intent was to train the next wave of leaders, but not everyone is meant to be a good speaker. Everyone has different mission, some just can’t speak. We can’t just put the responsibilities of something so important on these levels and expect to encourage and draw more crowds.

Secondly, why do we insist to run discussion meetings on weekdays? Malaysia is a country of traffic jams and we end up having people skipping dinner or rushing to attend discussion meetings. We also try to end the meeting on-time at 9pm. So if I was rushing to the meeting and I saw that it’s already 8.20pm, I’d think many people would have detoured for dinner, because they would know that by the time they reached the meeting place, they have maybe 30 minutes before the meeting will end. Why can’t we conduct discussion meetings on weekends? Don’t forget that parents with kids will usually not attend meeting because of needing to coach the kids with school homework or sending them to tuition. Don’t forget the next day of our discussion meet is also a school day.

Again, learning from Christians where they have worship EVERY Sunday (4 times a month) and yet their believers came without much urging because 1) they enjoyed the sermon by the pastor, who is usually a excellent motivator and 2) they all know Sunday is sermon and have set aside the time and Sunday is usually a more relaxed day.

I don’t understand why we don’t learn from other faith organizations and still kept to our old ways. Are we too old school? How do we expect to keep the youth engage if we are so old school thinking? Look, it’s a fact that we hardly EVER have any youth in our 4D discussion meetings. Have we reviewed and reflect on why this is the case?

Malaysia has only 20%-30% of the population that is non Muslim. Out of this minority, we have so many religions trying to gain membership – strongest among them are Christians and Catholics. Even Buddhism has so many sects, the rising popular ones is Tzu-Chi. You mention Tzu-Chi to anyone you meet on the road and they know about this Buddhist organization, because of their fast-action in helping natural disaster victims and their charity activities. You mentioned SGM and no one knows what it is despite our cultural activities and performances during Merdeka. Have we reviewed why that is the case? We claimed that we are a modern religion, we are a world religion but many of our secular practices such as in fundamental areas like discussion meetings and speakers, we are not able to modernize.

And then there is this crisis that now set us back another 15 years.

Some serious reform is needed if we expect this organization to grow. And if our top leaders does not know what to do, then they need to come to the ground and listen and observe. Or get help. Or observe how other people are doing. And looking at how memos are being written these days, I also think they needed a good PR department.

inception1

COBB: What do you want from us?

SAITO: Inception.

Arthur raises his eyebrows. Cobb is poker-faced.

SAITO: Is it possible?

ARTHUR: Of course not.

SAITO: If you can steal an idea from someone’s mind, why can’t you plant one there instead?

In the movie Inception, Leonardo DiCaprio played a role of an agent, Cobb, who could get into his sleeping target’s subconscious mind and plant ideas. When his target awakes, his target would think that he thought of the idea himself. Therefore, the target will do things that Cobb wanted him to do. Hopefully this post served as a form of inception into our top leaders’ mind, such that we might see a change to the way we conduct discussion meetings and pave ways for a growth in membership.

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6 thoughts on “Organization Decline

  1. Is funny though, many dedicated leaders especially in KL have been busy in gakkai activities for the past many years. It is slightly better these 2 years but before that it was like there’s meeting every alternate day and sometimes almost every day. And every weekend there are activities ie soka day, all leaders meet, culture practice, cleaning, gardening, recycling, gourmet, GBS duty etc. Not to mention ferrying members and soka friends here and there. AND YET with all these activities and meetings, SGM has been stagnant for so many years in terms of “membership”. When we are stagnant, we are actually declining.

    A WD shared that her daughter don’t have time to accompany her because of gakkai activities and leadership responsibilities. And another member has been diligently coming out for night duty and leaving his wife and children alone at home. Although I do not agree that he should leave his wife and children alone at night especially with our current security.

    The point is many of our members and leaders have been working tirelessly for SGM, for kosen rufu AND YET our discussion meet attendance has decline over the years. The organisation has been stagnant over the years.

    And GD has proudly mentioned in the last State Rep meet that in terms of Gokuyo, other countries have to learn from us. But in terms of Shakubuku we have to learn from others. What is happening?

    I am not sure who and how is the SGM activities being plan yearly. All these years what has been plan by the SGM top leaders, we at the bottom just carried out without questioning. Whatever event SGM organise, we will go all out to support them in terms of time and money. AND YET, sad to say that we are stagnant. What went wrong?

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  2. Hello BoE
    Your question – What went wrong? Is both simple and short. Yet, one of the most difficult to answer. The simplest questions are often the most difficult to answer.
    But before we ask this question, we got to admit that there is something wrong at the fundamental level. Over the years, we have tried many different strategies.
    1. Champion han [Brazil model] – We went overdrive into collecting this and that statistic till it is killing of joy and purpose, but just reporting to a cold bureaucratic hierarchy.
    2. Before that, there was something like a Taiwan model. Forget what was that already, but many top leaders went to Taiwan for exchange and wanted to implement it here.
    3. Recently, the new model is India. Shakubuku should model and learn from India. Progress was phenomenal.
    But what we don’t seem to learn is that things are a little more complicated than that. We see great results, we ask their GD or top leaders, they gave a one line answer. We bought it, and start implementing it. But, is that the full answer? No. It is only the tip of the iceberg. Over 90% of the reason for such success was hidden. Maybe, they themselves were not aware.
    There is cultural, history, social, economy, etc. many factors to consider. But no, we want simple answers. We want action. tell me things that I can immediately set to work. And we fail again and again.
    When we are not growing, we are regressing. It is true. You see, ‘how many ten years do we have in our lives?’ [Chai Kau’s words]. When we are stagnant, people grew older. And pass on. Look at our top leadership today – What is their average age?
    But this discussion is good. It’s important. At the grassroots level, we need to think and take full responsibility for the growth and happiness of our members, our friends and our youth. If top leadership cannot provide answers, good strategy or even willing to take a hard look at our state of affairs, then, we can ignore them, and focus on our own activities at the local level.
    This is my take. When our own local chapters grow, members are practising joyfully and getting great benefits from the Law, perhaps, the top leaders will want to sit up and start to listen. Whatever it is, the focus is not at the top leaders. Use Sensei’s guidance as our guide and source of inspiration, connect with Sensei through our serious study and thoughts on his guidance, put it into practice. This is the first step.

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  3. Response to @quietrevo
    I don’t think Champion Han initiative was successful at all and in fact, we can feel the strain that this initiative brought to the Han and grass root. I am not sure if this was being reviewed by SGM because it looked like it is here to stay.

    The issue with Champion Han is that we put the faith and admin responsibilities onto the District and Han leaders. Yes, we said that the Chapter and Honbu leaders who are assigned should get their hands dirty but many acted like a consultants, giving advice from the top but did not really do the real work.

    Everything fall on to the Han. If the activity is home visit, the Han has to arrange, then the Chapter/Honbu leaders will follow. If the Han failed to arrange the home visit, we don’t see Chapter/Honbu leader picking up the phone to call the members.

    In my District, one Han leaders can take care of 8-9 members – calling for discussion meetings, giving out Cosmic/Flow, ferrying members to discussion meetings, etc. I don’t think our Honbu leader has any members to take care of at all. The mentality of the Honbu is
    “I am here for maybe one year max. Next year I will be assigned somewhere else. So I can’t really take care of the member. I can tag along, but you are in charge!” Their main role is attending meeting and giving guidance.

    All these are fine if we asked the Han to do admin work of calling members/ferrying members/giving out Cosmics/take attendance/announce activities in meetings/entertainment. I believe the Han are happy to take on this role. But when we also put the faith responsibilities on them, i.e. conducting discussion meetings, giving lectures and study meetings, then the stress is immense. They are Han because their faith is just beginning. How can we expect them to give lectures or shoulder the responsibilities of running discussion meetings.? This is where we expect the Chapter/Honbu leaders to take a lead on. Alas, the reality is not like this.

    This is the reason why the seams is breaking apart. Everyone is burnt out.

    We really need to review the Champion Han model and retweak it if it’s not working instead of just maintaining status quo.

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  4. Thank you @quietrevo for trying to answer the question. Appreciate that.

    A WD leader once told me that SGM activities in KL is compatible to SGI Japan activities. This is how fast pace KL kosen rufu is. No wonder most of us don’t have time for family and friends.

    Though Champion Han has already been drop off, but everything still falls on the District and Han though.

    There are too many focus, too many statistic, too many targets setting ie. how many person to shakubuku? how many members to home visit? how many gohonzon recipient? how many leaders to foster? how to increase kofu fund? how to increase cosmic and flow? how to support culture performance (for SGM culture fund, though I understand there’s no such fund anymore but was not announced), how to support art exhibition? how to support all event organise by SGM? etc etc

    Totally agree with our comrade @qwerty colemak comments. Many are starting to feel tired and burnt out. Some feel that it is an obligation to do gakkai activities rather than joyfully doing them. How can the chapter grow if the district and han are burden with so many things to do…

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  5. BoE, our latest Intel told us that looks like Champion Han is back in business. We are going back now. Wonder if the top is really so out of touch and have no idea of what the happening on the ground and the problems we are facing. And are they really bankrupt of ideas, can only think of old strategy that have repeatedly failed.

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