Before we get started I want to give a huge shout out to the brothers at the Fort Worth Masonic Lodge #148 Podcast. I recently had the honor of being interviewed by them and you can find the episode here.
As Masons, we are devoted to the continuous process of trying to become the best versions of ourselves. This isn’t an obtainable goal, and we know this because no man can ever be perfect.
The fact that this goal is ultimately unobtainable is irrelevant. We undergo this process because it makes us better men which, in turn, makes us better providers, protectors, fathers, brothers, sons, and everything else that being a man entails.
“These same processes that can apply to the individual can also be applied to organizations with great success.”
You see, even though we will never be perfect, this journey of self-improvement benefits us, our society, and everyone around us.
By working to become the better men we are constantly seeking the ‘best practice’ for every action in our daily lives. It is a long and difficult process that involves a practice called ‘continuous improvement’. When we apply this to our lives we can expect adversity, setbacks, and other frustrations but it is well worth it to become a better version of ourselves than we were yesterday, a week ago, a month ago, and so forth.
These same processes that can apply to the individual can also be applied to organizations with great success. In this article, we will explore the concepts of ‘best practice’ and ‘continuous improvement’ and then look at how they can be applied to our lodges.
The Daily Grind – Continuous Improvement
Continuous Improvement is a cyclical process in which we constantly evaluate and then adjust our practices. Generally speaking, the steps to the process look something like this:
- Plan – The formative period for a program, a new practice, or event where decisions are made based off of prior experience.
- Implement – When the event takes place or the lodge runs its program or new practice.
- Evaluate – The committee charged with this activity or new practice meets and determines what worked best and what didn’t. Did the program align with your lodge vision and goals?
- Adjust – Keep what worked well and try to improve (or do away with) what wasn’t satisfactory. Even if something worked as intended, look at ways it could still be improved.
- Repeat – Go back to the planning stage.
As I mentioned earlier, this process is used by organizations of all types and sizes on a daily basis. Many of those who have implemented this very well are currently enjoying the fruits of their success while those who did not, or failed to implement it all together, have closed their doors.
The Fruits Of Our Labor – Best Practice
In short, best practice in a Masonic lodge context means doing things and making informed decisions based off of what we have learned is best for our lodges.
That also means that making decisions because we suppose it to be best or because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’ is not best practice (quite the opposite, in fact).
These informed decisions that cultivate the best practices are the result of continuous improvement, specifically in the ‘adjust’ stage.
“…best practice in a Masonic lodge context means doing things and making informed decisions based off of what we have learned is best for our lodges.”
It’s important to point out that best practice won’t always look the same because it is a result of continuous improvement. For example, as a lodge applies continuous improvement to a program over time the consensus on the best practice for the said program will change, sometimes drastically.
Best practice will also vary by lodge, which is to be expected. Every lodge is unique with its own history and consists of different members from different backgrounds. We should let each lodge cultivate its own best practices so long as they are within the boundaries set forth by our Grand Lodges.
You can read more about best practice in one of my previous posts.
Where Can These Concepts Be Used?
Continuous improvement can be applied to just about anything within a Masonic lodge. Here is a short list of some examples where it has been applied in other lodges:
- Reading of minutes
- Grand & local communications
- State meetings
- Lodge furniture
- Lodge buildings
- The Progressive Line
- The West Gate
- Dual memberships
- Meeting time
- Meeting regularity
- Practice nights
The list could go on.
Pick something important to you or think of something not on the list and begin applying the continuous improvement process to it.
Continuous improvement is a cyclical process that leads to the identification of best practices for a lodge. It can be applied to and help improve a large list of things most lodges already do when used consistently over time and the resulting best practice will evolve due to this.
Continuous improvement isn’t a magic wand that can fix a lodge’s problems overnight but it will contribute to the betterment of your lodge if used purposefully and consistently. Remember that cannot ever be perfect! Much like when we try to improve ourselves we can expect to stumble, have setbacks, and get sidetracked. This is completely normal and this does not indicate that our undertakings have failed but rather it is time to refocus and re-evaluate.