Do we need KPIs at TI?
Several people have told me that TI is getting better and better, that it couldn't be any better, that it is fine or even wonderful as it is. It can't be improved. It should stay exactly how it is.
In my opinion, anyone who comes to TI for over one year and has that kind of a view is suffering from snow blindness. Attachment to an unchangeable image like that is not a Mahayana view and I would argue probably not a view that accords with the Buddha's teachings on impermanence. These days, it's not just the Buddha who thinks everything in the universe is subject to entropy (decay and disorder).
If you sit in Cafe Bliss (I was going to write, if you sit in bliss) and face the building, you can see it decaying. I blame Adele for making the place look beautiful, colourful and alive. Bloody Adele! And bloody Tsering for Bliss, while I'm at it!
That's why we need KPIs; they give us unbiased numbers that we can refer to so that we are confronted with actual figures that challenge our innate attachment to what we want to believe, that challenge our belief in permanence and fairies.
We need KPIs. Here are some that I would like to see:
- Annual attendance figures, broken down so that we see days, events etc to see what is working
- Hours open to the public for teachings and or meditation
- Charitable acts, by events and dollars (The Perfection of Giving)
- Floorspace is 60% dedicated to residency — what KPIs should we be getting in that area?
- What measurable indicators would quantify our contributions to the Region and to FPMT internationally?
- Improvement projects
At Miller Grove at the end of the 1970s, a good turn up to teachings would have been a dozen people. By the middle of the 1980s we had to move out of Crimea Street because the maximum in the gompa was 50 people. By the end of the 1990s we were getting 100 people to many teaching nights and 200 coming to marquee pujas.
Here we are 30 years later, and people are telling me there are 300 coming to teachings every week. I don't see how they can have that belief.
Marquee pujas that you would previously have to squeeze into (to get floorspace to sit down on) are now only half full. 60 people come to teaching nights as far as I can tell, not 100.
Damien told me (when I was CD-for-a-day) that he has kept accurate attendance figures — I think he said, for decades. But when he offered them to the EC, they didn't want them. Figures might contradict prejudice.
When we moved to Mavis Avenue in 1987, Jane Lewis had Membership numbers just over 200 (and they all paid). Thirty two years later and we have 30 fewer members and about a third of the members we have do not pay any membership dues. Someone told me that this was raised at the AGM and the response was that "membership is down all over the world". Shrug, nothing to see here.
These are easy KPIs that ought to be obvious to anyone who really cares about the future of TI.
Time to pucker up and kiss reality.