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ParkMan

Positive thinking - growing Scouting in your district

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Posted (edited)

An interesting question on how to grow Scouting.

One item BSA does not seem to effectively do is benchmarking.  Not that JTE foolishness or Quality Unit intrigue.  But really get into what is the unit that maintains membership, has many service hours, has outings every month, works to use the patrol method actually doing and how are they in fact doing this?  (and no it's not Woodbadge trained leaders).  This would be more than one visit and the actual challenge is what makes a good unit.  One unit may be 100 Scouts and another unit 2 miles down the road may be 25 Scouts.  Both may be successful, but who defines this?

If you want to grow, figure out what the top units are doing, then objectively determine what can and what cannot be replicated.  Likely it will come down to motivated adult leaders, engaged youth, and supportive families.

Edited by Jameson76

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2 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

If you want to grow, figure out what the top units are doing, then objectively determine what can and what cannot be replicated.  Likely it will come down to motivated adult leaders, engaged youth, and supportive families.

 

4 hours ago, shortridge said:

Let’s put our energy into program-side unit support with tangible results: 
- Compelling training 
- High-quality Roundtables

So, suppose we have a district like the one described in @ParkMan's original post, and the district leadership agree on the goal of significantly improving retention and recruiting.  They agree that great unit programs are the key to successful retention and recruiting.  Following @Jameson76's suggestion, they agree on an approach:  identify what works and replicate it in other units.  And, they agree on a method based on @shortridge's suggestion about training and roundtables:  regular monthly gatherings of unit Scouters holding specific unit positions for targeted "How We Do It" discussions on specific unit program and operations topics.  These sessions would have two objectives:  Get the units to tell each other what works for them in a particular area, and inspire units struggling in that area to adopt approaches that work.  Then follow up with additional "how to" materials provided by the units (like @Gilwell_1919's Troop Book), and even additional sessions on a topic, to continue promoting adoption of successful approaches.  In effect, the district asks the units to train each other.  To figure out where to start, they survey each unit, asking two questions:  "What does your unit do really well?" and "What would you like your unit to do better?"  

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1 hour ago, dkurtenbach said:

 

So, suppose we have a district like the one described in @ParkMan's original post, and the district leadership agree on the goal of significantly improving retention and recruiting.  They agree that great unit programs are the key to successful retention and recruiting.  Following @Jameson76's suggestion, they agree on an approach:  identify what works and replicate it in other units.  And, they agree on a method based on @shortridge's suggestion about training and roundtables:  regular monthly gatherings of unit Scouters holding specific unit positions for targeted "How We Do It" discussions on specific unit program and operations topics.  These sessions would have two objectives:  Get the units to tell each other what works for them in a particular area, and inspire units struggling in that area to adopt approaches that work.  Then follow up with additional "how to" materials provided by the units (like @Gilwell_1919's Troop Book), and even additional sessions on a topic, to continue promoting adoption of successful approaches.  In effect, the district asks the units to train each other.  To figure out where to start, they survey each unit, asking two questions:  "What does your unit do really well?" and "What would you like your unit to do better?"  

As someone with experience in something like this, what about the units that don’t want to participate? And, who maintains quality control several generations of district leaders down the road? Couple of examples of the challenges that pop up.

Barry

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2 hours ago, Eagledad said:

As someone with experience in something like this, what about the units that don’t want to participate? And, who maintains quality control several generations of district leaders down the road? Couple of examples of the challenges that pop up.

Barry

There would be many challenges, not least the problem of units that don't want to participate -- and likely many of them would be units that need the help most.  And given the natural turnover of leadership in districts and units and the resulting changes in direction, it would be a wonder if the exercise lasted even five years.  About all we can do is gently persist in our efforts, or, in the words of Tennyson, " . . . by slow prudence to make mild / A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees / Subdue them to the useful and the good."  On the other hand, if the work contributed to even a 5% increase in membership in the district, it would be considered wildly successful. 

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18 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

If you want to grow, figure out what the top units are doing, then objectively determine what can and what cannot be replicated. 

100% agree... one technique my teams use to get to root cause(s) of issues is the BOB and WOW method.   BOB simply stands for Best if Best and WOW is Worst of Worst.   Essential you study the difference between units that perform the best (high retention, consistent membership, active, etc.) and worst (high attrition, less active, etc.) and really deep dive to understand why.   Ideally, these units would be in the same district so regional differences can be eliminated.

Then build this up District by District to see what changes need to occur with training, professional’s focus, etc.  The key would be to not change the overall mission and goal just to try and capture a few more head count. 

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