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Posts posted by GMRScout

  1. GMRScout, the reason I asked was that years ago my company treated me to a corporate leadership course for a solid week. I was told that the consultant doing the course was paid $800 per hour so I'm hoping that it contained everything that a corporation could want in a leadership course.

    And I can't think of very much in that course that I would apply to managing or leading this unit. Most everything I've gained, I've gained from more experienced leaders in this unit and those nearby...and first-hand experience. I'm somewhat skeptical about the benefits available from Woodbadge.


    Cyclops, Hopefully I caveated things enough to get my meaning across!  I think there are some specific circumstances under which taking WB could be a good choice for some people.  I want BSA to change WB from a discrete course to a modular training scheme like the UK Scouts (a different thread I started yesterday)--perhaps with a weekend WB capstone course.  If WB can really make a difference, we need to figure out a way everyone can do it.  If most don't take it, what difference does it make to most Scouts, and why do we invest more heavily in it than any other locally-administered course?


    A few other thoughts:


    • In my opinion, the average corporate trainer is likely to be more effective at classroom training than the average BSA trainer.  The BSA is fooling itself if it thinks it is consistently delivering management and leadership classroom training on par with what corporate America and the military deliver.
    • In my opinion, the approach is, in any case, of limited applicability to leading Scouts.  There may be some value for managing adult teams, but, as others have observed, most Scouts probably bounce into storming with regularity, and many patrols can get stuck in a storming loop, so the model is likely of much less use in leading youth--except if adults can take away from WB that some conflict can be good en route to high performance.  
    • We seem to have forgotten that B-P and others established the Patrol Method as the means by which to teach youth leadership and cooperation.  With all of the philosophical content of the course, there was just about nothing on the philosophy of patrols as the functional unit of Scouting.  
    • In fact, the directive hierarchical nature of the "PLC" function in WB illustrates corporate amnesia that troop leadership is labeled functionally with reference to the patrol:  it is called the PLC, not the *troop* council; and the SPL, not the *troop* leader.  The PLC is supposed to gather to push the ideas of their patrol members into the troop's priorities and decision making.  In WB, the SPL is superfluous, and a mouthpiece for the SM who gives direction that cascades down in accordance with the syllabus.  This could prepare WB participants to return to their units ready to exercise adult directive leadership rather than to nurture a Boy-led unit.    
    • My WB patrol mates are truly exceptional people, and they were the best part of the course by a wide margin.  I used to be a Beaver.  Not sure if I still am.
    • Upvote 1
  2. This one caught my eye. Really? Care to offer more detail?


    My overall premise is that someone who has already had corporate-style leadership training in the private sector or the military (really, many other governmental setting could apply) will gain very little from this part of the syllabus.  It is acknowledged in WB literature that WB aspires to deliver leadership training of the sort presented by corporations and government agencies.  Before attending WB myself, I had representatives from WB staffs in two different councils tell me that WB was the equivalent of this type of training--"just like you'd get for thousands of $$$ if you worked for XYZ corp."  During the course of a military career I was introduced to Tuckman's Storming-Forming-Norming-Performing model of group development.  I was aware of it and discussed it with other leaders as it pertained to real-time situations throughout my career.  Further I led teams and units of varying sizes, many times in highly-stressful, life-threatening situations.  I would be amazed if my experience is atypical.


    Therefore, if one believes that the corporate leadership approach and the Tuckman model help a Scouter deliver a better program for our youth:

    • I believe that most people with corporate or military leadership training and experience will already have been trained in material equivalent to this part of the WB syllabus.
    • I suspect that most people without this experience stand to learn information new to them regarding the Tuckman model, etc, thus my assertion that they "*MAY gain knowledge in this area" (emphasis added).


    I think a leader of longstanding experience in different settings, or one highly skeptical of management theory--or of the capability of his or her local WB staff effectively to inculcate these theories, would be a poor candidate for WB.  My intent is to strip away the WB aura of mystery in order to help people who would benefit from the training decide to attend.  


    I hope that is sufficient detail, but am happy to elaborate or further discuss. 

    • Upvote 3
  3. I am a lifelong Scout and Scouter, and it is painful to see a movement that I so deeply love and believe in miss the mark as widely as it does with Wood Badge.  Wood Badge has the potential to drive a more consistently high-quality program for many more kids.  To do so requires a pretty radical re-imagination of what Wood Badge means.  


    I would like to see a training approach markedly different from that taken by BSA for the current program.  I quickly sketch out a few problems I see with the current approach, then suggest a different approach for consideration and discussion.  


    A few significant problems with the current approach:

    • Ungainly and labor-intensive:  A cumbersome structure with a large staff, a long preparation lead-up, and 18 months of follow-up.  I think other training suffers from the resource drain.
    • Programmatically unfocused:  It tries to cover so many things that many of them are covered poorly.  What do the kids need their leaders to know?  Boy Scout leaders pretend to be a Cub for a few hours? Cub leaders pretend for days to be Boy Scouts?  We have even less of an idea about how to incorporate Venturing, let alone Varsity. 
    • Emphasis Confusion:  Is it important to be outdoors?  Do we need to cook or is it ok for others to cook for us?  Is WB an industry-caliber leadership course that you would take in corporate America at the cost of thousands of dollars?  Does that apply to the Wolf curriculum, the core Eagle merit badges, etc?
    • Resource drain:  Large time and financial commitment for already-strapped volunteers.
    • Heavy-handed:  It puts a lot of energy into pitching and attempting to motivate students who are already motivated enough to be in the WB course  Two movies?  Sappy poetry?  Questionable myths presented as fact?  There can be a fine line between motivating people and alienating them through perceived attempted emotional manipulation.
    • Since the course is so complicated, it is hard to update or modify.
    • The ticket is not a training scheme, it is an add-on.  I understand the rhetoric of "now go out and put what you learned into practice," but isn't that what we should be doing in our Scouting positions? I also understand the position that tickets should be tailored to support one's position; anecdotally for many they are add-on make-work projects that many tolerate to get the beads.  
    • There is a counterproductive mysticism and mythology surrounding the course.  If it's really the "premier training," "mountaintop experience," etc., then why are so few people taking the course and why do staff have to arm twist so hard to get attendees?


    What might it look like instead?  As far as I can discern, WB was designed by B-P to be Scoutmaster/unit leader training.  The present UK scheme builds on and extends this idea; it is nearly ideal in my estimation:  

    • Those people in key positions for which WB is required (hands-on leaders, commissioners, etc.) have three years after appointment to complete WB.  It is not some esoteric "mountaintop experience," rather it is simply required in-depth training for key Scouters.  No mysticism.  No question of whether to participate.
    • It is modular:  37 modules comprise the "adult training scheme."  Only those that apply to a Scouter's particular position are required.  
    • Modules may generally be completed by attending training or through online/recorded video presentation followed by validation.  
    • There is a method to validate prior learning rather than compelling completion of a module already mastered.
    • Scouters changing roles need only complete modules not previously credited as completed.
    • There is a tie-in with their equivalent of NYLT.
    • There is no mention of the word ticket in the scheme.

    Ref:  https://members.scouts.org.uk/documents/Adult_Training/Adult%20Training%20Scheme.pdf


    I think the BSA needs to step back and ask what training our Scouts need their leaders to have.  Then it needs to revamp WB to address those needs (that may mean that a six-day residential course is not required), and make WB mandatory for all hands-on unit leadership and commissioners.  A good start would be to copy the model used by the UK Scout Association.  As adapted to BSA, I suggest the following modifications/clarifications to a matrix, incorporating:

    • YPT and quick start modules.
    • Trained strip.  Add BALOO to Cub Scouter trained requirements.
    • Tie in with Journey to Excellence program.  
    • Scouter Training Award.
    • Create a system to validate prior training.

    This approach addresses all of the shortcomings I perceive and ensures a consistent level of training for all front-line leaders, rather than having just a few participate in WB.


    P.S.  If you want a ticket scheme, make that part of a new service award with square knot, not part of Wood Badge.

    • Upvote 2
  4. Although I related a negative experience at WB surrounding this game, I *would* recommend WB for certain people and for particular reasons:  

    • Relatively new or inexperienced Scouters can gain an appreciation of the different parts of the BSA and establish networking and mentor contacts.  
    • Those who were not experienced Boy Scouts--and are or will be Boy Scout leaders--may benefit from the quasi-patrol method approach via the organization scheme for the WB students.  
    • Those who do not have team leadership experience and training in the corporate world or the Armed Forces may gain knowledge in this area.  
  5. The concept and execution of this game saddened and upset me when I commenced WB about a year ago.  The same holds true today.  In fact it makes me think we need to completely reconsider the purpose of WB, although I will comment principally on the game that is this thread's intended topic.


    For background:  I am approaching 30 total years of youth and adult Scout service, completed Sea Badge 20 years ago, and recently retired from the military.  So this is not my first rodeo.  


    Regarding the game:  I think it is not worth the risk to administer what amounts to a psychological experiment run by people who generally don't have the expertise to deal with or properly debrief the thorny issues that participants in this forum indicate arise not infrequently during the course of this game. The syllabus that I was able to find online said that some participants would sink to the depths of despair.  


    What makes BSA think it's a good idea to create a situation that they predict will do that, and what makes them think that all of their many trainers will uniformly be equipped to manage that very negative outcome?  


    Beyond the intended self-scrutiny, at least in the instance of my class, our staff believed that all groups had to go through Tuckman's Form-Storm-Norm-Perform stages of group development--and that "The Game of Life" would force us through an accelerated storm phase.  And, further, that all patrols required equal storming pressure.  A quick look at references on this theory reveals that the storm phase is supposed to be closely managed by a knowledgeable team leader, and they counsel caution and team support--and even suggest using part of the form phase to establish group values or ground rules and to warn the group that storming is a natural stage in group maturation and likely to be encountered.


    In my class, our gameshow host acted as if he were a drill instructor:  yelling the rules, aggressively advancing on people selectively and shouting them down--once when he was yelling at someone near me, he was shouting with such force that I was hit with his flying saliva.  I understood exactly what was going on, and my team and I behaved cooperatively at every turn.  Yet, I found it so repugnant that they were setting up some of our more enthusiastic classmates to lie, that I walked out of the game.


    So, you see that for me, my "depths of despair" moment did not come upon realizing that under pressure I can exhibit duplicitous behavior, rather its basis was that I realized that BSA in general--and our staff in particular--believe that many of the Scouters who come to WB will lie and stab other people in the back at the drop of a hat.  The net result is that I, with a heretofore lifelong love of Scouting, have developed a strong distrust of the BSA training system from national all the way to my council and district.  


    Further, relationships among some people in my district and council--the kind of people who care enough about Scouting to go to WB, attend roundtables, run Cub Scout day camps, etc.--are now permanently marred because a few people don't know if they can ever again fully trust a few others.


    As to the rest of the course:

    • My patrol mates are awesome.
    • There were a few new games that were fun.
    • The guy who played B-P at our campfire was awesome.
    • The first half of the course with management theory death-by-powerpoint was an inelegant rehash of things I've seen many times before.

    WB seems to have been designed by committee--or to be a sort of reverse engineering derived from the old story of the blind men and the elephant:  Is WB supposed to be a tree, a snake, a fan...?  If we can carefully refocus on what the macro mission of Scouting is, then step it down to the unit level, then to the role of adults in that unit, I think we will have a clearer picture of what we need WB to be, and therefore how it should be refocused. 


    See you on the trail!


    • Upvote 1
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