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Effective District Meetings

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Suggestions for running effective District meetings - what works well, what to avoid.

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I don't know if you need to go with "Roberts Rules of Order" (Who was Robert anyway?) Actually, according to my summary of RROO, they have no place in a Scouting meeting since they say "The conduct of ALL business is controlled by the general will of the whole membership - the right of the deliberate majority to decide." which isn't the way that Scouting works.

 

Agenda. Gotta have that. With short times for each sub-committee head to report.

 

Avoid discussion of minutia. Let the sub-committee decide details like color of napkins or if the camporee patches will have a frog or bat on them.

 

Have the sub-committees break out for discussion of their particular projects. Heck, they can even have their meetings at another time and place.

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Don't believe I've ever been to one.

 

1. The District Chairman should set the agenda and run the meeting (NOT the DE) and distribute it ahead of time.

2. Have the program chairs submit their reports ahead of time and distribute them with the agenda. Everyone should be expected to read the reports ahead of time and be prepared to approve/disapprove.

3. Roberts' Rules are too complex for small groups of mere mortals. Unless you have an experienced parliamentarian on board.

4. Make sure all of the COR's are there. They are the only ones who represent the Units to the District and Council.

5. Don't do the program committees' work at the table. If something is undone, give it back to the program chair to resolve and bring back a recommendation.

6. Set a time limit (e.g., 90 minutes) and STRICTLY enforce it. Start and end ON TIME...ALWAYS.

7. COntrol the DE. His/her time is at the end of the meeting ("Executive's Minute")

8. In addition to running the District, the District Chair should attend all Council meetings and represent the will of the District Committee.

9. Did I mention END ON TIME?

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"4. Make sure all of the COR's are there. They are the only ones who represent the Units to the District and Council."

 

In six years of serving on District Committees, I have never seen a COR at a meeting. Never. Oh wait, I'm wrong. There was a COR who was also a SM who came with his son who was giving a pitch about something. Yeah, that's the one.

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Good advice from all of you.

 

I appreciate the additional info on District Chair responsibilities - and how that all ties in with the effective district meetings. Any suggestions on how to be a good District Chair would be appreciated as well! What do you think would be the three top priorities for a district chair?

 

So - who has ideas for getting the COR's to the meeting - how can I inspire them?

 

thanks!

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Have to admit that I was happy when my term of office as a District Chairman came to an end.

Some tips:

Hold people accountable for doing what they are supposed to do or have said that they are going to do.

Remember that everyone serves for a year. If there are members who are not doing what they should be doing thank them for their past services and replace them.

Replace the people who only attend the meetings to moan and complain.

Work closely with the other two members of the Key 3.

Don't let them off the hook.

Remember that DE's are paid!!

One of your main roles is to train your replacement!!

Set goals for the District, have your own vision and mission. Share these with the committee.

When looking for people to serve on the committee look and think outside of the box. -District Committee Members do not have to have served as youth leaders or have ever been Scouts.

Like it or not. A big part of what the District does has to do with numbers. But these "Numbers" do end up being more youth and better program facilities for the youth.

Trying to get COR to attend the meetings may seem like a lost cause. Don't give up. Sometimes giving them a job to do on the committee will help get them to attend.

Remember that it is not all going to come together overnight, all you might accomplish is to lay the foundation for the next guy or the one after.

Be ready to say farewell to the DE who you just trained. You can bet he or she will be on their way out just when you have them doing what they are supposed to do.

Along them lines never ever think that you work for the DE - You don't.

Start all meetings on time and never allow any meeting to run longer than 90 minutes.

When someone isn't doing what they are supposed to find out why? Before the meeting. This means contacting them before the meeting and finding out what's happening. If you can't reach them pass that job on to the DE -He or She has a lot more time than you do.

Read all you can about what the functions of a District are and don't dwell on any one area. They are all important.

Eamonn.

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There is nothing unique about a district meeting. Chairing a district meeting requires the same skills and components of chairing any meeting.

 

Know what you need to get accomplished and have an agenda that will guide you to the goals.

 

Make sure that the people who need to be there are coming or are sending someone to represent them.

 

If there are itens requireing a vote make sure that the information needed to make a clear decision will be on hand.

 

Start on time, stick to the agenda.

 

District Meetings are where big decisions are made, details are done in subcommittee, don't get bogged down in details.

 

Make sure everyone knows what the next step is for any decision and who is responsible for it.

 

Finish on time.

 

 

 

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I would suggest a couple of things:

 

1) Look honestly at the agenda and what actually happens at a meeting and say "If I were someone marginally interested in the organization, would I consider my time here to be well spent?" If not, ask why not and remedy it. If you aren't sure about it, or even if you are, ask some of the members how the meeting might be improved.

2) If the meeting is a series of one-on-one conversations, you might ask whether the meeting needs to occur or whether those conversations can better be held by phone conversations.

3) Ideally, a district meeting has the functions of keeping the group together (morale, spirit, collaborativeness) and getting the job done (functions and tasks and projects to help units, leaders and Scouts.) The reason to have a meeting is to encourage and enable collaboration among several leaders and several committees and to produce a better product than any committee can achieve on its own. It's also to produce a certain amount of positive competitiveness (I see that the Camping group is really doing good stuff; our training group had better get on the stick and do some good stuff too.) It also should help leaders feel not alone in their jobs but rather feel encouraged that they have help.

4) The District Meeting should not be a grump session, nor a place where the DE or District Chairman harrangues the District Committee. Why come to a meeting to be made to feel bad?

 

In my experience, good District Committees and District Meetings are relatively rare and occur when the District Chairman is someone who is very positive, a good cheerleader and who makes people feel good about themselves and good about Scouting. I believe that it is more important that people feel motivated to do something than necessarily to cover everything in the meeting.

 

Have a great time as District Chairman.

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Picking up on something that NeilLup said.

Scouting should be fun!

Finding reasons to celebrate shouldn't be hard.

A store bought cake or better yet a homemade cake and a case of pop doesn't cost that much.

Find out what motivates the members of the committee. Thank you letters for a job well done? Certificates? Keep records and present the District Key to people who meet the requirements. District Chairs can nominate committee members for the District Award of Merit and the Silver Beaver.

These people are "Your Team" -Look after them!!

Eamonn.

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Well here's one "don't" to put on your list of practices to avoid.

 

Please don't allow the meeting to consist of a series of reports, gripes, and conversations about old war stories. I am not a fan of many of the district meetings I've been to because nothing actually gets done. Bob, Joe, Sue, and Dave (names changed to protect the guilty!) go around the table, give their reports, and by then we're out of time. Especially those folks with lots of experience, sometimes seem to think that when we go around the table and it is their turn, that it would be a good time to launch into a lengthy discussion of every perceived ill they can think of with "scouting these days." Or else they decide to share every last detail of whatever they're currently doing, including comparisons to the last 30 years worth of programming and the hows and whys of program evolution. Ugh, kill me now.

 

When that happens, these folks tend to be very hard to rein back in, without seriously offending them. So set the structure up in a way that avoids endless reports being delivered at the meeting.

 

Also, please share with your various sub-committee chairs in advance exactly how long they'll have to discuss whatever you want them to discuss, and how much hard data to share with the group, vs. just with the DC. I've learned the hard way that when you start presenting numbers or other data to a group, some folks will misconstrue the purpose, or the data, or both. Even more so if you provide them with hard copies of that data, which may then grow legs and comes back up in the strangest places. Sometimes you can save the details for the DC and just give the "big picture" to the committee.

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Food (munchies) and coffee or bug juice seem to bring people to gether. Rotate the responsiblity of who brings what.

 

I agree with most of the others, keep the meeting moving, no griping.

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"I don't know if you need to go with "Roberts Rules of Order" (Who was Robert anyway?) Actually, according to my summary of RROO, they have no place in a Scouting meeting since they say "The conduct of ALL business is controlled by the general will of the whole membership - the right of the deliberate majority to decide." which isn't the way that Scouting works."

 

Sigh. What a poor understanding of parliamentary procedure.

 

Parly pro has been around for several hundred years. Roberts just wrote what has become the most well known enunciation of parliamentary procedure (what is known as a 'parliamentary authority') now known as "Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised" (RONR).

 

The purpose of parliamentary procedure is to have a set of rules by which a 'deliberative assembly' (ie a group that comes together to made decisions) can conduct business.

 

If you have a group that is NOT setup to making decisions, then, no, you don't need parlypro.

 

I have rarely been to any District Committee Meetings in which I felt that they needed to use parlypro. That does not say that there are NOT meeting within Scouting that parlypro IS needed. Its needed at Lodge Business Meetings and LEC Meetings. At Council Board Meetings. At Crew Business Meetings and VOA Meetings. And similiar such meetings where decisions are made.

 

"3. Roberts' Rules are too complex for small groups of mere mortals. Unless you have an experienced parliamentarian on board."

 

Oh, sorry, incorrect. Parlypro can be used with any size group, from a handful to several hunderd. With a large number, you need more elaborate rules, but for a small number (less then 12) you can be more informal. This is covered in Roberts.

 

 

 

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"Sigh. What a poor understanding of parliamentary procedure."

 

Sigh. I'm quoting from Roberts Rules of Order. Lah me, another Scouter who can't read.

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Ah, but emb021, that assumes that all attendees to the meeting know and understand Roberts Rules and will follow them. In a past thread I asked about the educational level of BSA training materials, with Roberts Rules I dont think its an educational issue as much as an experience issue.

 

I was quite active in my professional society for awhile and got well versed in Roberts Rules by attending multiple state meetings. But I am not so sure that in the current District Committee's 15-20 regular attendees could identify when to use or what "Call the Question" means. They know its a procedural thing, but not exactly what.

 

When the Crew first formed, the youth wanted to use Roberts Rules to run the meetings, we had a few sessions on how to d that, Roberts Rules are not taught in High School much anymore I gather.

 

Roberts Rules are great, but they have to be understood by all in the meeting as well.

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