|Worshipful master, brethren,|
|I was initiated by you as a Freemason just a year ago (February 8th 2000). During this year, both in meetings and at home, questions raised about the low number of applicants joining our Craft and the departure of others who were active for just a very short while.|
|In this paper I will deal with these issues from a Masonic viewpoint and from my professional field of expertise in economics and business management.|
|I would like to address the issue of the low number of applicants from a marketing point of view. Every society or firm should be able to identify new marketing opportunities as they appear in a constantly changing and complex environment and assess both their opportunities as well as their threats. To avoid the threats, every organization should constantly seek new ways to offer a more valuable product to it's clients and to choose the specific share of market in which it has the advantage over it's competitors.|
|The importance of this competitive advantage was mentioned by Machiavelli, already in 1532. He was one of the first to notice it and link the political (and business) environment with the organization. He also saw the need to address the right behavior for meeting goals. In his well known book "Il Principe", he wrote that people who become Princes just by being lucky, don't do much to get there, but do have to work very hard to keep their position. Machiavelli continues and states, that if a man is not gifted by nature with many talents and virtues, it is most probable that he will not be able to take charge and lead. Therefore, those who did become Princes fast, did have the talent to take an actions without delay, to hold the position given to them by luck.|
|The competitive advantage, or "talents" as he called it, is what enables an organization to survive in a competitive business environment. Like many modern researchers, Machiavelli claimed that the hard task confronting the leaders would be keeping that advantage.|
|The advantage of the our Craft is it's essence. It comprises of a system of morality described by symbols but veiled from the not-initiated. In plain language one could say that Freemasonry aims at self-education so that each member lives a life of knowledge, brotherly love, help and truth. If we adopt a business and marketing viewpoint, being a member of the Craft is a product or service we provide. Therefore, marketing it in a competitive environment should be done by the same marketing principles and the "product" should have formulated a marketing mix.|
|I. Hornick (1988) states the marketing mix is the framework of the operations the firm (and in this case our Order) can do in order to affect the need for it's product (in our case, being a member of the Order). Developing the marketing mix includes the "Four P's Category": Product, Price, Place and Promotion.|
|Developing exclusive marketing mix for Freemasonry should consider a few aspects:|
First, the product is defined as inelastic product and not like in normal goods it is impossible to identify an opposite linearly link between price and quantity.
Second, the marketing mix must be subject to the followings:
|1.||The need for secrecy. Nevertheless, as stated by Brother Danny Doron (1994) in his book "Freemasonry, a Personal View", the main issue of our belief is primarily moral. This is no secret, and there is no reason to refrain from spreading our word among all.|
|2.||The abstention from active effort to convince men to join us. They are expected to apply from their own free will and accord.|
|Taking the above as basic assumptions, we can define the operative actions to be taken:|
|1.||Creation of awareness - creating the awareness by passive presence. For instance, use of Masonic symbols in places of business, on cars or any other personal belongings. Another option is posting Masonic symbols in central places or in city entrances to get the attention and raise curiosity.|
|2.||Information channels - enabling anyone who finds any interest in Freemasonry to learn about us. Using the Internet could be an up-to-date method of posting our ideas and of spreading controlled information about the Order. Our Grand Lodge as well as very few lodges have nice and interesting Internet web sites. While finishing writing this paper I was happy to find out, that lately, a new web site was formed for our own lodge. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the initiators for their overwhelming work.|
|3.||Adjusting to the environment - The use of phrases and terms understood by all. For example: the use of the words "work", "sacred" and "initiation" in relation to the lodge, may cause antagonism as well as misunderstanding and even cause uneasiness to the non-Masonic audience. The terms we use inside the lodge may have different meanings to an outsider. It follows that we should consider adopting a "friendlier" vocabulary in our intercourse with a non-Masonic audience.|
|4.||Price - The expense of joining a Lodge is not, to my opinion, a major part of the decision making to join. As stated, being part of the Order is inelastic product, the same as staple product like bread for example, which a change of it's price does not change the derived demand. Or from the other side of the economical phenomena is the inelastic demand for works of art by potential clients, even if the price increases.|
The second issue in this paper deals with the departure of brothers who were initiated and were active for a short while. Our lodge affiliates lately Past Masters from other lodges, bringing with them knowledge and experience. For this we should be thankful. Nevertheless we encounter here the problem of departure, and even the Grand Master talked about it.
This issue can be treated by building a strategy. The American researchers Hamel & Prahalad (1995) claim that top management in large firms deal more with "putting out fires" than with planning the future. In their opinion, the primary assignment of top management is to reinvent strategies and industries and not processes. The competition for the future is the competition for controlling new opportunities. In order for a firm to win this race it needs a central architecture which will enable the use of models to be needed in the future. The firm should build abilities that will let new opportunities enter the firm and to develop new capabilities .
The strategy of our Masonic Order is characterized by product differentiation. It means a unique idea and message and forms a differentiation strategy that prevents entering or leaving. This is due to the fact that every newcomer to the Order should overcome previous loyalties and adopt a new one. Brother Leon Zeldis (1994), the editor of "The Freemason", states that there is a major difference between Freemasonry and other charity and social organizations. Brother Joseph Kasis (1996) addressed the essence of Freemasonry and it's characteristics, claiming that the Order found the correct way to react to changes of eras and grew stronger and broader through the ages in spite of all the hardships, due to it's unique philosophy.
A strategy for an organization like the Order of Freemasonry is like an internal code that operates it. The nature of a strategy is undeterminably but the outcome of it can been seen. It's like the metaphoric "Invisable hand" that was coined by the 18th century philosopher and economist Adam Smith (1776) in his article "The Wealth of Nations" and is still used as a milestone in modern Western economy. I would like to point out that Adam Smith started his article with the words "Equality, Liberty, Justice" and this was a few months before the American Revolution and thirteen years before the French Revolution.
The strategy of freemasonry, as I learned it in my first steps as a Freemason, is looking for the perfection and the harmony, like those found in King Solomon's Temple, and this is for the glory of the divine architect of the universe and for the good of Mankind.
The phenomenon of "rounding corners", improvisations and avoidance of conforming strictly to the unique Masonic philosophy, may cause weakening of the internal code of the Order and disturbing the differentiation strategy. A strategy which is not conservative nor freezes any change, but open-minded productivity while emphasizing the uniqueness. When this strategy weakens, Freemasonry is on the same level as other organizations, Orders and social clubs. These processes weaken the basic loyalty and encourage departure.
To sum up, I want to present a conclusion reached by brother Danny Doron (1994), who addressed this issue in his book. His conclusion was that there is no need to change the principles and basic rules of Freemasonry, but to emphasize it's richness and truth. He added that putting things to the test of principles and the will to stand and fight for them show the real essence, life style and behavior of a true Freemason. Though the way this problem was addressed is not identical, there is no much difference between the conclusions drawn and which complement each other with the single goal of strengthening the Order.
As an apprentice, I sometimes felt like a commoner who enters a palace, admiring it's glorious beauty and who searches for keys to open its many doors. When one door opens, and I enjoy the look at the new room, I see more locked doors.
In this paper I did my best to combine the Masonic ideas and my knowledge of the business economic ideas, while trying to add my humble contribution to Freemasonry. I thank you for giving me this opportunity.
|1.||Barkai, H. (1995), Adam Smith in today's capacity, Byalik institute, Jerusalem|
|2.||Doron, D. (1994), Freemasonry - A personal view, Reuven Lodge No. 1, Haifa|
|3.||Hamel, G. & Prahalad C.K., (1994) Competing for the future, HBS press|
|4.||Hornik I. (1988), Marketing Management, The Open University, Tel Aviv.|
|5.||Kasis, I. (1996), "The essence and characteristics of freemasonry", Freemason, issue 2/3, 1996.|
|6.||Machialli N. (1988), The Prince, Zmora Bitan - Publishing, Tel Aviv.|
|7.||Work order for apprentice mason, (1985), The grand Lodge of the State of Israel.|
|8.||Zeldis, L. (1994), "Editorial - Masonic Knowledge" Freemason, issue 1, 1994.|