Setting standards and the election of a DGM (July 2019)

Very shortly our representatives will meet to select the next Deputy Grand Master (DGM) from a panel of four applicants, with the successful applicant destined to be Installed as our Grand Master in a little less than in three years time. Let us hope that if none of the candidates meet the selection criteria, the panel members will have the wisdom, integrity and courage to not make a selection and report the situation to the convening authority.

So, what are the selection criteria or is that another Masonic Secret of our closed and insulated management? Let’s hope that they are based on achieving our KPIs (Key Performance Indicators, approved at Quarterly Communications?) on: debt reduction, financial control, effective recruiting, reduction of attrition, and so on, problems of longstanding major concern. Has the panel been properly tasked? Incidentally, what are our KPIs or are there none? Do some just manage by gut feeling and fly “by the seat of their pants”?

Some like to reflect on arguably our greatest Grand Master, the late MWBro Sir Dallas Brooks and the fact that he was Initated and Installed as Grand Master within a six month period. However masonic historians seldom ever derive from this the lesson that if a man of his standing can achieve this, why do we now require our Grand Masters to serve such a long apprenticeship lasting years? This period of apprenticeship precludes many desirable categories of candidates because of their workloads as leaders in society, as Captains of Industry and professionals, senior military officers, and as academics of high standing. It also has the disadvantage of attracting candidates who look backwards and want to tell you about it, rather than forward looking, and they frequently “carry too much baggage” from the past. The appointment to DGM should not be regarded as an entitlement for work over a long period. Candidates whose minds are locked into current values and practices, especially those prevailing over the last ten or more years, should be discarded because they have contributed to our current unsatisfactory situation. The potential for a candidate to use skill transfers should be highly regarded. Demonstrated high integrity, intelligence and judgment are essential. The selection process should not be corrupted by “Crown Princes” being anointed as heirs apparent, somebody who will not question the current unsatisfactory state of the realm and how this occurred to avoid history repeating itself.

The United Grand Lodge of England was formed in 1717, and the Duke of Sussex was Grand Master from 1813 to 1843, repositioning Freemasonry, in a marketing sense, to have Royal patronage and the support of the leaders of society. This in turn had a beneficial effect on its community acceptance and its membership. The ability of our Grand Master and Grand Lodge to achieve a high community standing and participation to match the rhetoric and expectations in and by our ritual should be the key non-negotiable Grand Lodge KPI and therefore a major consideration in selecting a new DGM.

Let’s get back to basics. What Craft lodges once used effectively to do was simply to federate as some of our farmers do today to get community recognition, establish industry standards, conduct trade negotiations, and establish lobby groups to influence the selection of candidates for parliament and influence governments. Farmers are almost invariably practical, hard working, down to earth people, part of mainstream Australian, and not elitists. They want to retain unfettered control over their businesses. Federation is a useful simple, low cost, “no frills” model.

Yours fraternally