Before we hear about why and how we must organize, let’s listen in on a monologue that reveals what it means to be disorganized.
“You want to go out and distribute books? You need books? Sure, I’ll get you some. Follow me … Yeah, I know, it’s not exactly a book room – for now, we’re just using this closet next to the boiler here in the basement to store Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books. Anyway, we call it a book room. Oops, it’s locked. Wait here while I get the key. Come to think of it, the only person who has the key is out of town. Oh, and I just remembered – I heard a rumor the other day that he might not be coming back. Anyway, we’ll be lucky if there are books inside. We were supposed to pick some up at the BBT warehouse a few months ago, but the temple van’s engine froze, so the temple president postponed the trip. Apparently no one had changed the oil for a couple of years. And … well … to be honest, we couldn’t afford to buy books this year anyway.”
Such nattering won’t go away until we’ve employed the fourth law of book distribution: You Must Organize.
I have statistics to prove that those who organize sell far more of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books than those who don’t. It’s not even a close race. After organizing themselves, communities that were distributing only a few hundred of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books a year, or even none at all, have been able to dramatically increase the numbers of books they sell per month by the thousands or even tens of thousands. And I’ve seen over the years that organized communities not only increase the quantity of books they distribute but also improve the quality of their distribution. In stark contrast, those who fail to organize themselves never increase or improve.
Moreover, those who don’t set goals and then measure their results – two foundational principles of organization – cannot know whether they are increasing or decreasing; nor can they taste the exhilaration of striving to achieve a specific goal.
In fact, a disorganized life is not only tedious but also unproductive. I state this stark truth with firm conviction because I’ve seen the fourth law of book distribution repeatedly transform less productive teams into invigorated high-achieving ones almost overnight.
I have also measured these quantum leaps in results. For example, after intently organizing themselves, the devotees at ISKCON Toronto went from distributing 10,000 books in 2009 to more than 35,000 in 2010. ISKCON Laguna Beach increased from distributing just 400 books in 2011 to more than 15,000 in 2012. And between 2010 and 2012, ISKCON of Washington, D.C. increased from 5,000 books to 50,000. New Delhi, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Budapest, Kaunas, London, as well as centers in Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and many more communities worldwide have also increased dramatically by applying the fourth law of book distribution: You Must Organize. Numbers don’t lie. Hard statistics show that the efforts of both individuals and teams that organize themselves pay off handsomely.
Of course, the most dramatic transformation I’ve had the privilege to witness – as a community applied the magic of organizing themselves – has been in ISKCON of Silicon Valley (Team ISV). I’ve watched Team ISV grow over the last decade from a few eager but green book distributors into a thriving, well-oiled team with dozens and then hundreds of highly trained distributors.
Ten years ago, Team ISV was distributing only a few dozen of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books per month, but by organizing themselves, the results improved, month by month, until the team was able to distribute thousands and now tens of thousands of books per month. We expect that the results will continue to grow both quantitatively and qualitatively, because this is Lord Caitanya’s saṅkīrtana movement, which expands the blissful ocean of transcendental life (ānandāmbudhi-vardhanam).
Someone may question, “But aren’t these examples simply a result of lucky breaks?” Certainly not. Progress in book distribution is based on organization, not luck. In fact, every community that has embraced the fourth law of book distribution has also seen similar proportionate, astounding increases in its results.
But, someone else may argue, “I don’t have the time to organize. I’m too busy. My work is too urgent to stop. I have too many emergencies to deal with.” In reply to these busy people – and who isn’t busy these days? – expert organizers tell the following story: A wise passerby saw a boy struggling to cut a tree with a dull ax and advised the boy to take a break from chopping to sharpen his ax. The boy looked at the wise man with disdain and replied, “Can’t you see I’m in a hurry? I don’t have time to stop even for a moment.”
From the same vein of wisdom, the respected management expert, Brian Tracy, writes: “Every minute you spend planning can save you five to ten minutes in execution.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda, our exemplar of how to organize, spent years planning his campaign to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness throughout the world. In fact, the first sixty-nine years of his life appear to have been an investment in planning that prepared him to spread the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement at an unprecedented pace worldwide in just twelve years. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s management mantra: “Organize to increase.”
Here’s what he told a young Jayapatāka Dāsa about organizing to increase the results of saṅkīrtana: “Please organize your sales there to increase at a steady rate. Saṅkīrtana is the tried and proven method of propagating all aspects of our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.”