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Yep. The finding one's successor is the problem I identified years ago in so many organizations. This doesn't work. It focuses on finding a person.

Instead I believe it is better and more effective to focus on one's replacement's replacement. This requires focusing on the system instead of an individual. People come and go, which is why the "find one's successor" most often fails in the long term. It does not sustain itself, it has a single point of failure. When the focus is on creating a system by which leaders are nurtured, recruited and supported then the system itself generates successors. By focusing on my replacemen't replacement... a person i will never meet, it requires I create and nurture a sytem of leadership development to ... find my replacement's replacement. 

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Fewer people read a local paper anymore, where news about scouting used to be. Bad experience/ didn't like the unit is why what percentage left scouts? If they had said no time, not interested,

I interviewed hundreds of scouts and parents. I narrowed the cause down to adult burnout. I can write paragraphs on how burnout drove out thousands of families, but the the BSA simply lost between 50

I'm not surprised. Go visit all your neighbors and they will say the same thing. This very subject came up several times on the forum during the sex abuse litigation. The high image drives a lot

22 hours ago, DuctTape said:

Yep. The finding one's successor is the problem I identified years ago in so many organizations. This doesn't work. It focuses on finding a person.

Instead I believe it is better and more effective to focus on one's replacement's replacement. This requires focusing on the system instead of an individual. People come and go, which is why the "find one's successor" most often fails in the long term. It does not sustain itself, it has a single point of failure. When the focus is on creating a system by which leaders are nurtured, recruited and supported then the system itself generates successors. By focusing on my replacemen't replacement... a person i will never meet, it requires I create and nurture a sytem of leadership development to ... find my replacement's replacement. 

I'm not really following the distinction you see, or how it works in practice.

In our small troop, most willing adults have several troop jobs and there are only a few other adult prospects who are not interested or willing. The result is that there are virtually NO prospects to be one's replacement let alone that replacement's replacement.  The concept of "two deep replacementship" requires 3 willing and capable adults for each unit position. That just has never happened.

I would prefer a "farm system" where the holder of a position has two successors in the wings. The senior replacement handling a little heavier duties than the junior replacement.  Each easing into greater responsibility and "learning the ropes" as they go, but alas, we've never had sufficient adults to implement such a system.

We have never had that luxury at our troop.

Even at district level (where I was District Chairperson and where more adults are active), I had no luck.  Rarely, did individuals just step up and volunteer.

And, the source of a prospective pool of replacements largely depends on the number of crossover cubs (or the occasional youth joining a troop outside the crossover process).

One year, we had 2 or 3 more adults attend troop meetings than scouts (counting adults whose scout had aged out). Yet, several adults who attended every meeting made no effort, nor indicated any interest helping out, and resisted every suggestion of need. Then one of those reluctant adults suddenly took on several major aspects of the program and did a fine job. (Yeah, and I have no reason why).

People are complicated.

 

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1 hour ago, SiouxRanger said:

I'm not really following the distinction you see, or how it works in practice.

In our small troop, most willing adults have several troop jobs and there are only a few other adult prospects who are not interested or willing. The result is that there are virtually NO prospects to be one's replacement let alone that replacement's replacement.  The concept of "two deep replacementship" requires 3 willing and capable adults for each unit position. That just has never happened.

I would prefer a "farm system" where the holder of a position has two successors in the wings. The senior replacement handling a little heavier duties than the junior replacement.  Each easing into greater responsibility and "learning the ropes" as they go, but alas, we've never had sufficient adults to implement such a system.

We have never had that luxury at our troop.

Even at district level (where I was District Chairperson and where more adults are active), I had no luck.  Rarely, did individuals just step up and volunteer.

And, the source of a prospective pool of replacements largely depends on the number of crossover cubs (or the occasional youth joining a troop outside the crossover process).

One year, we had 2 or 3 more adults attend troop meetings than scouts (counting adults whose scout had aged out). Yet, several adults who attended every meeting made no effort, nor indicated any interest helping out, and resisted every suggestion of need. Then one of those reluctant adults suddenly took on several major aspects of the program and did a fine job. (Yeah, and I have no reason why).

People are complicated.

 

I apologize, it isn't an easy distinction to make and most dismiss my distinction as a difference in rhetoric but it is much more than that in practice.  The distinction is between focus on people vs system. Notice your response was focused solely on people; how many, etc... Because people come and go, and this is especially true when the number is limited, this focus rarley is successful. And as you point out, people are complicated. 

I advocate a focus on the organization itself, the processes which are utilized, and the decisions which are made. All of the decisions, processes, procedures are based on the development of future leaders of the organization. From the moment of introduction to onboarding and so forth. The entire purpose is to develop future leaders. This removes the search for the person and instead makes all people the potential future leaders. I know it does not seem like a difference, but it really is. One  measure of the difference is whether people willingly step down from a position in order to create the vacuum for the next person to serve. This will permeate within the organization at all levels. 

I suppose I can phrase the distinction in the form of a question, Are individuals looking for their successor, or does the organization create them by design?

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On 6/5/2024 at 7:08 PM, Eagledad said:

I interviewed hundreds of scouts and parents. I narrowed the cause down to adult burnout. I can write paragraphs on how burnout drove out thousands of families, but the the BSA simply lost between 50 to 75 percent of their cub families by crossover. 
 

Barry

Add to that burnout the difficulty of finding adults who are still involved who don't treat the scouting like it's their absolute last priority.  My younger son is done.  He indicated he wasn't really interested in scouts about 18 months ago, but seeing what his brother has gone through in that same time period (and experiencing some of it himself) he doesn't feel like any fun or value he's still getting out of it are worth the aggravation.

Key examples: merit badge counselors who take weeks to respond, then can't find time to meet the scout once they finally answer, scoutmasters and assistant scoutmasters who haven't provided scouts a solid base or training but expect scouts to be able to lead the troop by themselves because 'scouting is youth led', and scout executives - no details needed.

Our Troop has grown, which is fantastic.  With that said, a few of the new scouts are there to make Eagle only.  They (and their parents) are already eyeballing the 20 nights of camping for the Camping Merit Badge as the maximum rather than the minimum.  They want to know how much time it will take for their scout to reach 'X' rank.  The adults are not interested in volunteering to help run the Troop.  This may have always been the case, but it makes it appear as though the entire outdoor part of scouting isn't appealing to a lot of people anymore.

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12 hours ago, DuctTape said:

I apologize

No need to apologize. You see things others don't yet, but should.

I call that "Vision."

I am intensely interested in the practical steps you see that can be taken in a scout troop setting, given the scarcity of replacement prospects (at this point, I still see those numbers as a limiting condition). Educate me!

I'd dare say that many units (and districts) would find your suggestions helpful.

ABOUT PRACTICAL STEPS: Twenty-five years ago when my first child joined our troop, each parent was given a questionnaire asking about skills, interests, hobbies, equipment (trucks, trailers, etc…) which helped current troop leadership match incoming parents to leadership positions or at least to supportive roles. (Many hands make light work…)

That questionnaire served as a practical means, from an institutional perspective, to develop a database for the identification of folks for future service and to match their interest/skills/equipment to unit needs. Maybe one of the practical means you have in mind.

I come from a professional office of one. So, I have nearly zero experience with organizational personnel dynamics. I guess or theorize. My vision of these matters is like looking through a straw. Not too helpful.

On the other hand, decades ago I suggested to the district executives that if they wanted to monitor "unit health" they should have each unit submit to them, the district executives:

1. An organizational chart (on a pre-printed form with write-in the-boxes-with-names for the essential positions).

2. A calendar for the unit year (showing meetings and outings).

My thinking was that if a unit did not have one or both of those, the essential structure of leadership and program had not been done.

NO RESPONSE.

I tried.

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3 hours ago, SiouxRanger said:


I am intensely interested in the practical steps you see that can be taken in a scout troop setting, given the scarcity of replacement prospects (at this point, I still see those numbers as a limiting condition). Educate me!

I'd dare say that many units (and districts) would find your suggestions helpful.

ABOUT PRACTICAL STEPS: Twenty-five years ago when my first child joined our troop, each parent was given a questionnaire asking about skills, interests, hobbies, equipment (trucks, trailers, etc…) which helped current troop leadership match incoming parents to leadership positions or at least to supportive roles. (Many hands make light work…)

That questionnaire served as a practical means, from an institutional perspective, to develop a database for the identification of folks for future service and to match their interest/skills/equipment to unit needs. Maybe one of the practical means you have in mind.

I come from a professional office of one. So, I have nearly zero experience with organizational personnel dynamics. I guess or theorize. My vision of these matters is like looking through a straw. Not too helpful.

On the other hand, decades ago I suggested to the district executives that if they wanted to monitor "unit health" they should have each unit submit to them, the district executives:

1. An organizational chart (on a pre-printed form with write-in the-boxes-with-names for the essential positions).

2. A calendar for the unit year (showing meetings and outings).

My thinking was that if a unit did not have one or both of those, the essential structure of leadership and program had not been done.

NO RESPONSE.

I tried.

That questionnaire is definitely a great idea. So are the suggestions you gave to the District Executives. Agreed, the hardest part is getting the actual leaders to buy into it.

Other practical steps. (I apologize in advbance for my stream of consciousness)

Committee Chair and SM need to be on the same page as the troop requires adult leadership in both areas.

Immediately register every adult in the troop and have them complete YPT. this serves a number of functions, first and foremost it sets the tone that participation and training  is the basic expectation of all people in the troop; scouts and adults alike. 

At all scouting events, including  (and especially) meetings have an adult training piece. It can be any number of the module trainings like the YPT, or other adult leader type training. Or live trainings like Introduction to the Patrol Method, Troop Committee Training, etc... These can be conducted by the SM, Committee Chair, or any number of current adult leaders (just like we have the scouts train their patrol mates not just the PL or SPL)

Ask them to do something small. (also a reason for the YPT). "Hey Mr. X, next weekend the Eagle Patrol is doing a hike. I could really use your help as one of the shuttle drivers."

Host District/Council Training events so that your adults can more easily attend. 

Adults, like youth, have natural preferences. They will either lean towards Troop Committee type roles, or SM/ASM type roles. recognize these tendencies and nurture them.

Invite adults for coffee chats (think SM conference for adults).  

Lastly, recognize everything. It is not just Scouts who react positively to praise and recognition. Notice and thank them publicly for everything. Create incentive "awards" such as "The Troop Driver Pin"- awarded to an adult who has driven scouts 5x. Invite adults to the Troop Committee Meeting where they will be recognized for completing trainings, making contributions, etc... I suggest to do this at Committee Meetings so as to not take focus away from the Scouts at their meetings. Certainly special recognitions for adults may occur at COH, but these should be minimized at much as possible. 

As I mentioned from the onset, I do not have this all figured out. I only know that it requires a system wide approach. Hopefully these pratical ideas as an addition to the ones you already mentioned will be helpful to you and others.

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On 6/5/2024 at 2:53 PM, PACAN said:

Sooooo. Did they ask any of the 91 or 83% of respondents if they "agree" why they were not joining or if they left the program why?

Actually they did. During the NAM presentations the repetitive response to this question was basically "No one see's scouting in the community anymore so they think scouting no longer exists." the response to the why they left seemed to be "bad experience/didn't like the unit, and people don't know they can be a member of any unit not just the one next door/at their school/what they were told".

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On 6/5/2024 at 6:08 PM, Eagledad said:

I interviewed hundreds of scouts and parents. I narrowed the cause down to adult burnout. I can write paragraphs on how burnout drove out thousands of families, but the the BSA simply lost between 50 to 75 percent of their cub families by crossover. 
 

Barry

So my question about the burnout is; burnout directed towards what? Is it overall fatigue? Is it sick of toxic leaders? Is it the 365 cycle of fundraising? 

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On 6/7/2024 at 2:33 AM, SiouxRanger said:

I came to the realization decades ago that the first step upon assuming a role in Scouting was to start looking for a successor.  I thought that accomplishing that could take several years.

It soon became apparent that my efforts would have scant success in that in a troop of 15 scouts, or so, with two pairs of brothers, leaving 13 pairs of parents as prospects, and subtracting me and the other 3 or 4 parents already active, and subtracting most of the moms who are welcome but show little interest, that left about  8 "eligible/prospective" successors.  Of those maybe one or two had been scouts…who had the time, the interest, the skills…

You get the idea-the pool of prospects was very small.

I'm in my fourth year of "retirement" from being Troop Treasurer, still serving as treasurer…I agreed to stay on for 2 years after my youngest aged out…that was 6 years ago, and no prospects in sight.

I've had no better luck at district level positions.

Some of this is literally set an expectation. Sometimes replacements don't step up because you're not clarifying the unfairness of no one else stepping up. I was wearing multiple hats at a local unit and no longer have kids in it.  The COR and I had several succession discussions over the past 7 months or so and I was clear and fair to the unit; I let the COR know that were certain things I was no longer doing; however, I would stay on to help train replacements. It's the CORs primary duty to find adult leaders; it's great to help. I am moving on because I set clear expectations and no one can complain because I am offering to help train my replacement. In the interim the COR is going to have to put on those extra hats which will put pressure on him to get the job done in recruiting a replacement. 

At the district level it is often the district executive and the council executive that are at fault. The specific fault is the chair of the nominating committee is garbage. Recruiting for the district or council committees cannot be limited to "Does anyone want to nominate anyone? derp!" It has to be a call every unit, visit every unit situation. Every unit needs to be contacted every single year and asked to nominate at least 1 of their scouters to join the district/council committee(s). BTW if you have not figured out my districts whole nominating committee is a dumpster fire.

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3 hours ago, Tron said:

So my question about the burnout is; burnout directed towards what? Is it overall fatigue? Is it sick of toxic leaders? Is it the 365 cycle of fundraising? 

Burnout of managing the program. A volunteer organization gets about 2 good dedicated years from the average volunteer and three years of providing an adequate program. After that, they either leave or just basically show up. The scouts get a boring program each week that they whine about to the parents. The parents will make them stay as long as they can stand the whining. The Cub youth program is 5 long years for the adults.

Cutting out the Tiger program completely, and shortening the Webelos program would bring the Cub Scout program to a more manageable 3.5 years, and reduce the adult requirements to half. 

Barry.

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4 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Burnout of managing the program. A volunteer organization gets about 2 good dedicated years from the average volunteer and three years of providing an adequate program. After that, they either leave or just basically show up. The scouts get a boring program each week that they whine about to the parents. The parents will make them stay as long as they can stand the whining. The Cub youth program is 5 long years for the adults.

Cutting out the Tiger program completely, and shortening the Webelos program would bring the Cub Scout program to a more manageable 3.5 years, and reduce the adult requirements to half. 

Barry.

Ok, makes sense but shouldnt be that way in cubs. In theory each Lion and Tiger den is starting a new Den Leader and soon there after picking up an assistant. When the lead starts to get burned out the assistant and that lead should be able to swap positions. From a committee standpoint at cubs the committee should be rotating to avoid the burnout. Let us not kid ourselves, most of the committee positions are just show up and answer a very narrow range of questions; if you have an experienced CC most of the committee is just breathing oxygen and hopefully learning something in the event that the CC gets hit by a bus. 

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4 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Burnout of managing the program. A volunteer organization gets about 2 good dedicated years from the average volunteer and three years of providing an adequate program. After that, they either leave or just basically show up. The scouts get a boring program each week that they whine about to the parents. The parents will make them stay as long as they can stand the whining. The Cub youth program is 5 long years for the adults.

Cutting out the Tiger program completely, and shortening the Webelos program would bring the Cub Scout program to a more manageable 3.5 years, and reduce the adult requirements to half. 

Barry.

Ok, makes sense but shouldnt be that way in cubs. In theory each Lion and Tiger den is starting a new Den Leader and soon there after picking up an assistant. When the lead starts to get burned out the assistant and that lead should be able to swap positions. From a committee standpoint at cubs the committee should be rotating to avoid the burnout. Let us not kid ourselves, most of the committee positions are just show up and answer a very narrow range of questions; if you have an experienced CC most of the committee is just breathing oxygen and hopefully learning something in the event that the CC gets hit by a bus. 

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2 hours ago, Tron said:

"No one see's scouting in the community anymore so they think scouting no longer exists."

Fewer people read a local paper anymore, where news about scouting used to be.

2 hours ago, Tron said:

"bad experience/didn't like the unit, and people don't know they can be a member of any unit not just the one next door/at their school/what they were told".

Bad experience/ didn't like the unit is why what percentage left scouts? If they had said no time, not interested, etc then it's an issue of other activities crowding out scouts but a negative experience is a big red flag to me. What's worse is the "people don't know they can be in any unit." I read that as whoever asked the questions is blaming the unit leaders. "Don't like the unit? Find another, problem solved."

3 hours ago, Tron said:

So my question about the burnout is; burnout directed towards what? Is it overall fatigue?

Yes. My experience was being a den leader is the toughest job because neither the scouts nor adults help out. Add to that the program being repetitive and I had to put on a weekly program on my own for 8 kids. It was only 2 years for me but do that for 5 and of course the parents are exhausted. I never saw newly entering parents that were cub leaders want to jump in at the troop level. There was always a 3 to 6 mo leader gap. That was great in that it gave them time to also learn because we had plenty of adults helping out. Now, however, the new parents are pressed into service as soon as possible. It's really bad when the key 3 are new to a troop. They mean well and they have hearts of gold, but it's usually not good.

3 hours ago, Tron said:

Some of this is literally set an expectation.

I've seen units collapse because nobody will step up. The leaders were great, they tried to find successors, they finally told the parents it's time, they left and the units folded.

Rather than blame the adults that won't help out maybe some consideration should be given to why it's so much work to put on a successful scout unit. The idea of an hour a week is the easiest scouter joke to get a laugh. At one point I was telling new parents that close to one hour of scouter time was required for each scout in the troop per week. 50 scouts meant close to 50 hours. Troop meetings, committee meetings, conferences, campouts, records, keeping gear and buying patches. OA, roundtable, training, PLC coaching, eagle coaching, .... and it doesn't include MB counselors.

Parents see this effort and back off for a reason. Hence, my request to simplify the program.

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1 hour ago, Tron said:

Ok, makes sense but shouldnt be that way in cubs. In theory…………

Lol. Hmm, in theory? Whose theory?

I learned these facts from interviewing hundreds of scouters, parents, and scouts. And, the experiences of scouters in other states verify my results. So, I'm confident with my analysis. 

The prime reason for the burnout is Tigers. The number of volunteers, including the parents, nearly doubles the desired number of volunteers to manage the whole pack program.

If you read the present discussions on the forum, you find that many units are not recruiting even the minimum ideal number of volunteers for their program. So, they don't have a pool of non-burned-out adults they can alternate into the program. What you often see is dens doubling up to take up slack for the burned out volunteers or just finding warm bodies to basically babysit through meetings. Either way, the meetings aren't fun and families are too busy to endure boring programs that keep asking for their time and money. 

Whats really bad about the problem is that even if a family sticks it out to finish the cub program, they have such a bad taste of scouting that they done even consider continuing to a troop. Which, is why the national average of crossovers to troops is less than 50 percent.

In my opinion, to even try and approach the problem, National has to cut the Tiger program from the Cub program. But, the number losses are too scary, so the whole BSA program continues to bleed.

Barry

 

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On 6/10/2024 at 2:43 PM, MattR said:

Rather than blame the adults that won't help out maybe some consideration should be given to why it's so much work to put on a successful scout unit.

This is one of the "lightbulb" moments that come from this forum that make it so helpful.  At our Court of Honor last night, the plea went out again to the new parents to step up and help.  This is probably the third or fourth time it has been said.  That simple statement above will help redefine how we ask for help and what we're asking for help with.

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