Announcement Module
No announcement yet.

Rules, shmules...

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
Conversation Detail Module
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #16
    Hello John,


    Your faith that how things are on paper is how they work in the real world is amazing.

    There is probably no more impotent group around in Scouting than CORs. I understand that on very rare occasions that have coalesced into wielding some real power, but that is very rare indeed.

    In practice you have three groups in a council which have power. You have the professional Scouters, including the Scout Executive, you have the suits on the council Executive Board, who often have real positions in the community and control over money, and you have the volunteers who organize the Scouting program.

    The CORs are notably absent from these groups.


    • #17
      Oh my. We're havin' one of these rules things again? Good heavens.

      Just a slight correction to johnponz. Da CORs do not have votes at da Council Executive Board unless a particular COR is servin' on the board. Da CORs have a mandated majority of the votes at the Council annual meetin', which approves the members of the executive board and da officers. So they can control the membership of the executive board, and they do have the vote in a "big" matter like mergin' a council.

      I'm not sure da rules conversations ever really get anywhere, eh? As a Christian, I'm always surprised that da debate the fellow I call my Lord and Savior had with da religious officials of his day still goes on. "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" and all that. Ever did da bureaucrats condemn the fellow for not followin' "the rules." :P

      As a consequence, I don't think any legal philosopher has ever believed that blindly followin' rules was a good thing.

      Yeh have to consider the authority of the rulegiver, and His claim to your allegiance. Can a Scoutmaster make a rule that a boy in his troop who is not his son is not allowed to go play LaserTag on his own time?

      Yeh have to consider whether other, greater rules apply. Divine Law comes before da law of the State and all that; just about everything comes before the guidelines of a youth program publisher.

      Yeh have to consider the effectiveness and justice of the rule in general. When da large majority of people speed in a democratic state where the law is supposed to reflect da will of the majority, what does that say?

      Yeh have to consider the intent of the law. Not your own desires, but what da law was intended to accomplish. Did da legislature really intend that yeh should expel a 6-year-old from kindergarten for a butter knife, when they wrote a law about "weapons" in schools?

      Yeh have to consider whether it's proper to apply da rule to a particular circumstance, even if in general the rule is sound. "Never yell at boys" is an excellent rule in general, and yet there are a few rare times when urgent safety make it necessary to break da rule.

      In other words, we humans each have responsibility. We cannot surrender or abdicate our responsibility to someone else's rules. We must choose our actions, and we are accountable for 'em. That is true for our whole life, no matter who is givin' us "rules" to consider.



      • #18
        johnponz, you're still missing the main point of my comments. It's not about who sits around the table in Irving, it's about how the program get's delivered. Whoever writes the rulebook in Irving, however they are selected and whoever they think they represent, the more and more detailed the rules they try to create, the worse the result is going to be.

        Ultimately Scouting is about the experience that youth have in the program, and that experience depends on the effectiveness of the unit volunteers. Everybody else - everybody else - is Support Staff. The DE, the SE, the District Commitee, even the camp rangers, CITs and unit commissioners are support staff. So is the CSE.

        So when someone creates a rule, that rule either helps the front-line folks deliver a good program, or it hinders them. A handful of general rules that provide framework help. Detailed rules that can never account for all possilbe local conditions hurt.

        Centralized decision making has been the downfall of companies and countries.


        • #19
          Centralized decision making has been the downfall of companies and countries.

          Come now comrade! We must all support da Central Committee of our Glorious Movement!

          Yah, there's an additional factor, eh?

          I think it was Feynman who once commented "I'm certainly not smarter than da best engineers, but I know I'm smarter than the average of a thousand engineers in a committee!"



          • #20
            As I said in a previous post, looking at the BSA as a government is not the right way, and to look it rules, regulation and policies as laws is also comparing apples to oranges. The closer analogy is a business one. When the Board speaks, and it comes through a company's president in general the rest of the employees fall into line, and for the ones who don't fall into line, they leave. It is the reality of working in a corporate environment.

            The BSA is organized in such a way. However, it is much harder to ask someone to leave because the "employees" for the most part are volunteers so instead of the above, you hear a bunch of grumbling how National does not know what they are talking about, and a refusal to follow the plainest of rules.

            The one that started this thread is the simplest of rules with plain language, and a clear purpose. The rule is Commissioners must not be registered as Unit Leaders (paraphrased but close enough for discussion). This rule makes sense and has a dual purpose:

            1. Allows people to concentrate on their primary job in Scouting (especially important for Unit leaders). In my role one of the biggest problems I see is that people stretch themselves too much and do not do any of their jobs well. Are there exceptions yes, but as with HR policy in the "real" world, a corporation writes policy for the masses not for the exceptions.

            2. Prevents conflicts of interest. Previously I described one way this may happen

            In a corporation, employees may grumble they do not like the policy, but in the end they would fall in line. In BSA everyone rationalizes why the rule does not make sense, and then basically ignores the mandate.

            It is true that some of our rules say may and should, etc. This is explained really well in the new Guide to Advancement. However the language of the Commissioner holding one position rule is clear and has a purpose. I did some research and it appears that this particular mandate has been around for a long time, so it is not new and something the current leadership dreamt up.

            Am I a little bit of an idealist when it comes to Scouting...Guilty as charged. I see Scouting through rose colored glasses because of the great experience I had as a youth, and I am trying my best to help the youth have the same experience. I want to continue seeing Scouting in the best life and assuming that those guiding the movement are doing the right thing.


            • #21
              How someone opts to follow or not follow rules, regulations, call them what you will, is I think a personal choice.
              Very often here in the forum when someone posts a question about the rules that have to do with committees, elections and responsibilities. They want or seem to want this information in order to bash the heck out of someone that they are not getting along with or someone has bashed them and they want to find out if the bashing was sanctioned by the rules.
              My own view of rules and how they should be enforced has over the years softened. I was at one time very much a book thumper.
              Looking back I think that working as a member of the District Key 3, I needed the rule book and followed the rules so that I came off as doing the right thing and looking like I was acting in a fair and unbiased way.
              Still being a Baby Boomer, I unlike the generations before me who blindly followed rules and regulations, asked "Why?"
              Again talking personally. I at times think that it's odd that someone who likes to see himself as being a free thinker works in a place where there are lots of rules that are followed and sees following these rules as a way of ensuring my own safety and the safety of others.


              • #22
                In a corporation, employees may grumble they do not like the policy, but in the end they would fall in line. In BSA everyone rationalizes why the rule does not make sense, and then basically ignores the mandate.

                J.p., your metaphore falls flat on two accounts:

                Commissioners and such aren't employees. They are more like shareholders. They invest time for a return in smiles. When shareholders don't like a corporation's strategy, they revolt or direct their investment elsewhere. BSA puts up with a little shareholder shenanigans to keep that time investment (far more valuable than any cash contribution) coming their way.

                Even in corporations, if the mandates from HQ are causing a lack of productivity, the employees will ignore them. In fact divisions that are most productive are often the ones who manage to bypass a few corporate regulations. (To a point, mind you. A corrupt division can bring an entire company - even an industry - down.)

                So, a lot of posts on this site necessarily involve asking if a mandate really exists, how to be productive when that mandate seems impossible to fulfill, and how reasonable is any particular work-around for a given mandate.

                Quoting rules is often only the first step in solving a scouter's problem.


                • #23
                  Awww Q this is where we disagree and our arguments will not reconcile. The "shareholders" of BSA are the chartered organizations not the volunteers.

                  National exists to service and represent the chartered organizations not the volunteers. Most of the volunteers do not even have formal ties to National, they work for the individual units or individual chartered organizations.

                  BSA is a non-profit organization and operates as such. For some reason everyone thinks of it more like a government that represents all of the people.


                  • #24

                    Heh, heh!

                    Personally, I look to "the rules" as a guide to what I do. Usually they are an effective way to do things and I can avoid reinventing the wheel.

                    Sometimes they don't work and I'll consider doing something that violates them when that seems like like a better or necessary thing to do.

                    In the case of Youth Protection rules that appear unreasonably rigid and arguably harmful when followed in detail, I make an exception to that rule of reason. Reporting youth to the police and Scout Executive for foolish "sexting" or passing around porn at Scout activities seems extreme.

                    However, Scouting has been subjected to legal and public relations attacks for not taking such issues more seriously. Perhaps early reporting of incidents might avoid more serious incidents at a later date. AND BSA has gone to extraordinary efforts to train every leader in detail over their YPT rules and get a receipt to prove people have been trained.

                    In the light of those exceptional reasons, I think those rules deserve to be followed despite the fact that they seem excessive. But that's the exception. Relatively few other rules are managed with such care, and because of that seem more like recommendations or guidelines to me.

                    Scouting places great emphasis on recruiting people with good judgement. Why bother if we are just to be by the book rule followers?


                    • #25
                      As additional evidence that BSA anticipates multiple registrations for district leaders, I cite the "Journey To Excellence" program, which has several references to district leaders including commissioners having multiple registrations:

                      Total number of traditional units (packs, troops, teams, crews, and ships) on 12/31/12, divided by total number of all unit commissioners
                      (paid or multiple registration with position code 80) on 12/31/12. Performance improvement is the difference between the total number of
                      unit commissioners on 12/31/12 and 12/31/11, divided by total on 12/31/11.

                      Total district committee members, including District chairman (61), District vice chairmen (62), Neighborhood chairmen (64), District
                      members-at-large (75), District committee members (79), and District commissioner (81), with paid or multiple registration on 12/31/12.



                      • #26
                        The closer analogy is a business one....It is the reality of working in a corporate environment. The BSA is organized in such a way.

                        Yah, johnponz, I think this is where you're gettin' confused. Da BSA is in fact a corporation, and it is NOT organized in da way you suggest.

                        The BSA corporation produces materials, and licenses those materials to other corporations and associations in exchange for a fee. Just because yeh license someone's materials doesn't mean that yeh have to use all of 'em, or can't also use someone else's, or that yeh are surrendering control of your program.

                        It also licenses council corporations to be local support service providers for the other entities which are purchasing the materials. As support service providers there are some additional, stricter expectations in order to maintain brand structure and identity, but da councils are still separate corporations, and still have great latitude in whether and how they use individual support materials and guidance.

                        Remember, this is a risk management strategy, eh? Da BSA as a separate corporate entity is not responsible for da financial obligations and actions of da units or da councils, and that's deliberate. Therefore, they also are not da supervisor/superior of the units or the councils.

                        So da "reality of the corporate environment" is actually da opposite of what yeh suggest. This goes to my first philosophical point, eh? Yeh have to consider whether da rulegiver actually has any authority or whether yeh owe him your allegiance.

                        Yep, da BSA has advised that commissioners not be registered as unit leaders. But they've also given da local council authority to manage and issue charters and memberships in their geographic area without that restriction. If they wanted to block it, they could in ScoutNet, after all. It's da difference between program materials guidance and a genuine restriction on corporate agency in da council charter.



                        • #27
                          johnponz, I specifically pointed out that over-centralized rulemaking was the downfall of companies as well as countries. The folks at the center think highly of themselves - they've been successful after all and gotten promoted to exalted positions, and maybe they are in fact smarter than the average leaf node in the organization. So it's easy for them to start thinking they should make the decisions for the leaf nodes, in order to make sure the best decisions get made.

                          But, the problems is, even if they are smarter, they don't have access to the information the local guy has. That's my analogy about SSD and the local swimming hole. The guy in Irving writing the SSD rules may be far more experienced and capable of deterining the safety of a specific swimming hole, but he's not there to see it. He's in Irving. So the rules he writes are most effective when they empower the responsible adult standing there at the river bank to make a good decision. If instead, the rulemaker tries to, by writing detailed rules, define the answer from his desk in Texas, he'll fail. He'll get it wrong, because nobody can write rules detailed enough to cover every swimming hole in North America without relying on the good judgement of the person who has to actually evaluate it.

                          BSA gets this one exactly right. SSD requires the on-site person to use sound judgement. Of course, it's still a little heavyweight. Technically we're supposed to set up markers and what not. A couple of weeks ago, we were on a trip and the scouts wanted to go swimming. We checked the area for safety and used the buddy system (but not buddy tags), but we didn't set up a non-swimmer or beginner area. Why not? Every scout (and adult) on the trip was rated Swimmer, and every Scout was going swimming, so we dispensed with that. If we'd taken the time to mark out a wading area and made buddy tags, we wouldn't have had time to actually go swimming. Were we breaking the rules?


                          • #28
                            Rules are great when I'm the person who knows what they are and can use them for my benefit.
                            Rules stink when someone else uses them and proves me wrong and then wants to rub my nose in my wrong doing.
                            I'm not always sure what I want or expect from the rule, but know that things tend to work out better when the person charged with carrying out the rule or enforcing the rule is fair, firm and consistent.
                            Many of us, or maybe I should say me? Often look for loop holes in rules.
                            While finding one is often seen as getting one over on the system, I can't help feeling that this sort of thing sends the wrong message to the people (Youth and adult.) That we hope to lead.
                            Still there are times when I'm willing to not follow a rule that I see as being silly or having little or no merit and use my own judgment in place of the rule. Even knowing that the example that I'm setting is not the best.
                            Thinking about it, I'm guilty of not always following a lot of rules a lot of the time.
                            A lot of the time it's because I think that I know better than the rule or the person who wrote the rule and a lot of the time, it's just because I know that I can get away with it.


                            • #29
                              I disagree with Beavahs characterization. If what he is suggesting was the truth then the famous quote (paraphrased), Councils and Units cannot add or take away from the advancement requirements would be seen as advice and not policy.

                              I really do not believe BSA intends this mandate to be advice. It is the same with the mandate that unit leaders "must" not be commissioners.

                              If BSA was only giving advice, why is there an Area Director who pretty much everyone agrees in the "boss" of the Council SE? As was pointed out to me on another thread National has more control of the Council program than the official organization acknowledges.

                              I believe my characterization of the organization is more accurate and complete than Beavah's. If BSA was simply a book publisher and a licensing organization, the existing support structure would not be needed.

                              It is kind of funny that in a previous thread Beavah said that my characterization was basically correct.
                              (This message has been edited by johnponz)


                              • #30
                                the rest of the employees fall into line, and for the ones who don't fall into line, they leave. It is the reality of working in a corporate environment.

                                Bwa-ha-ha-ha. Oh, yes, every employee follows every company policy exactly as written, never improvises, never recognizes times when the rule doesn't make sense. No employee ever installs an unauthorized software program on their company computer. Our company used to have a sign up saying "any cameras brought onto the premises need to be registered." It made no allowance for cell phone cameras. It was really out of date. Employees ignored the rule. They didn't leave the company.

                                There are all kinds of reasons for deciding that certain rules don't apply in certain situations. But it doesn't have to be an "all or nothing" policy. Generally, my policy is to follow the rules unless there is some reason why it doesn't make sense.

                                As Beavah alludes to, we used to have these conversations all the time on this forum. To the point where I generated a canonical list of reasons you should follow the rules and reasons you should use your judgment. Clearly there is a balance to be had.

                                Abel - you do seem very frustrated by people who don't follow the rules. Are there things that you do enjoy about Scouts and people that you do like to work with?