BNI requires that all its officers attend leadership team training, which is generally offered one or two months a year. Members have sometimes suggested that the training not be required for committee members, in order to widen the pool for future candidates.
There are some problems with this idea, however. One is the “leaky bucket” process, mentioned in Episode 19 and Episode 42. If you don’t get your training at the source, the message gets diluted. Knowledge leaks out of the bucket. Teams trained this way are badly prepared.
Would you want the pilot flying your plane not to have completed training? The leadership team members are the pilots of your chapter. Do you want them to be trained, or not?
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Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 214 -
Hello everyone and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, CA. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan, how are you and where are you today?
I am up in Big Bear. I have talked about Big Bear in my podcasts before. I have a house up in the mountains. I have my Executive Management Teamof BNI, the top managers of the organization globally. We have managers from Europe, Asia and of course North America. We are meeting to talk about strategies and how to take BNI yet to the next level. We are also meeting this week with the Executive Council, which is the National Directors of the top seven countries of BNI. We get together a couple of times a year to make sure everybody is on the same page and we take this organization into the next century as effectively as possible.
We really work hard to get an engagement of the organization at many, many levels. This week is all about engaging some of the key players of the organization.
It’s such a big organization now. It seems like you really do need to do this.
Yeah. 6000 groups now in almost 50 countries.
Wow. That’s impressive. Well, what are you going to share with us?
You know, I got a question that was sent to me that I just had to answer. I looked through my podcasts to see if I had ever really answered this. I don’t think I ever have, not this directly. The member said, “ BNI requires that all of the committee leaders and officers attend leadership training, which is generally offered one month a year. I suggest that committee members not be required to attend leadership team training so that we can allow people who are willing to serve be able to participate without having to go to that [pesky] training.” Okay, he didn’t say pesky. I added that. But so that they could widen the pool of future candidates.
This is one of those things. First of all I appreciate the question. This is one of those things that sound good, but when you really go deep and start understanding the ramifications of it, you kind of scratch your head and go, “Gee. I didn’t think about that.” I’m really glad and I guarantee you that if he is asking that question, there are a whole lot of people thinking that. So I appreciate the question and here’s the answer:
First, I discovered years ago what I call the leaky bucket process of training. I think I may have talked about this in a podcast in the past. When I started BNI, we didn’t have required training every six months for the leadership teams. I trained leadership teams and I asked those leadership team people to train the next generation and that leadership team group to train the next generation and this where I discovered the leaky bucket theory of education. Education and information- there is a bucket of knowledge. When I train you, some of that knowledge leaks out. If you then train a third party, even more information leaks out. By the time that third party is training someone else, you have a lot of information leak out of the bucket. Now, what happens when somebody is handed a bucket that is half full? They start putting in their own stuff.
What we discovered after a year in BNI is the leadership teams that were trained that way were horrible because they were ill prepared. It made me think back to my days when I worked in a transportation company in Los Angeles. On my first day on the job, the HR Director brought me in and said, “Well, the boss is out of town. He was called away for a state government hearing. He’ll be gone for a few days. We’re not quite sure what your job is. It’s a new position, so we’ll show you around. The restroom is down the hall. Here is your office. Dial 9 to get out. We’re not really sure what you do. Good luck. Your boss will be here in a few days. “
I sat there and I thought, you know, if I ever run a business of my own, I will make sure that people get a thorough orientation so they are not going to have to wing it. Training isn’t about widening the pool. It’s about deepening the knowledge. What is more important than having a lot of candidates is having participants who are informed and oriented. It is that training that is key.
I had somebody say to me once, I thought this was a great metaphor. Would you like to have a pilot flying your plane that you are in that did not complete training? Clearly not. Nobody does. He said to me, “For those people who complain, what I tell them is your leadership team members are the pilots of your chapter. They are flying your chapter. Do you want people flying your chapter who haven’t had an orientation, who haven’t been trained?” I said that is a great metaphor. That really is.
You want people who are knowledgeable and understand what is going on and why it is done a certain way and what part of the training is the hidden elements, and understanding these key aspects of being successful in a group. So we are not looking to widen the pool. We are looking for committed people who are willing to get the orientation necessary so that they can pilot the individual chapters in the most effective way. We do that because we have done it the other way where training wasn’t required.
I remember going into a group once and not believing that we were in a BNI meeting because it did not look anything like a BNI meeting except they were wearing BNI badges and did call me the founder. Other than that, it didn’t look anything like a BNI meeting. One of the reasons for that was we didn’t train back then. It was a huge mistake.
Great question and that’s the reason we do it. What are your thoughts?
I am glad you asked because I have been in BNI for seven years, maybe it’s more than seven years now. I’ve been on the leadership team just about the whole time. We go almost every six months, so I’ve been to almost 14 leadership trainings. What I have discovered is that there are some things that, of course get repeated, unless you do different jobs every time. What’s interesting about it is because BNI is evolving as an organization and because it’s international and all kinds of other reasons, you keep developing and toning it and making it a little better each time. So that is an opportunity. For our regional directors to teach is what is new and get us all going in the same direction, swimming with the current, so to speak.
I think so. That is really important to be checking in and updating. There are changes to the organization and you need to know and gt those updates. It’s like watching a movie for the second or third time. You pick up stuff you didn’t pick up before. New things happen. These are all really important.
Here is an aspect that I think is really critical, especially from a givers gain perspective. If you have a great level of expertise because you have been on the leadership team two or three times or more, go to the leadership team training to help your director support the leadership process. Volunteer for your director. Say to them, “You know what, this is my 4th or 5th time. If you would like to call on me to support something, please feel free to do so.” Oftentimes, new leadership team people do not take the advice of the director. Yet the director has tons of experience. But hearing the same thing from another member will give them a different perspective.
Look at it from the perspective of supporting the entire team. BNI is a team effort. It’s not an individual sport. It’s a team. So go there to support the team, the director and your fellow leadership team members who are there. Guess what- you are probably going to pick up a few things along the way as well. Go deep, not wide. That is what training is about. Thanks, Priscilla.
Great. Thank you, Ivan. I think that’s it for this week. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.