Unit Administration

Magic of 5% Improvement

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At the recent Unit Key 3 Conference, I spoke about the need to work with your Unit Commissioner and your Unit Key 3 (i.e., Chartered Org. Rep., Chair, and Unit Leader) to do a Unit Service Plan.

A Unit Service Plan is a six-month “business plan” for your unit. It examines your annual planning & budgeting, your programming (like camping and meetings), your leadership succession plan, your adult leader training status, and your recruitment and retention status.

If your unit is not examining these departments on a regular basis, it is easy to allow one part or another to slide. The worst case scenario is you ignore the slide until the slide is a death-spiral do you stop and try to fix it.

The goal of doing regular Unit Service Plans is to prevent this scenario from occurring.

If your Unit Key 3 meets with your Unit Commissioner in the next 90 days, we would help you define ways to succeed in a predictable and healthy manner.

One trick is building your unit is to set goals of 5% across the board improvement. Five percent does not sound like much. But it is.

If your unit has 30 boys and it grows 5%, it means that you have replaced boys who have aged out or dropped out, keeping your retention at 100%, then adding an additional 2 boys (it is hard to have 1.5 boys, so I rounded up).

In programming it means moving from 10 monthly events to 11 events (rounding again). If you have 20 events, you move to 21. More opportunities for more scouting leads to more opportunities to find the one event that sparks the passion of one more scout. With the spark ignited, he is easier to retain, even when his parents are offering different extracurricular activities.

A five percent increase in fundraising, for example by adding camp cards to your existing practices, means that you have more money to use in programming that one more event mentioned above.

A five percent increase in trained adults means one more volunteer to staff events.

A five percent increase in advancement means you are less likely to lose scouts because they are progressing and are actively engaged in the program.

Now has your unit improved by 5%? I would argue not. You have add more financing, more capacity for adult leadership, more boys, more events. You are a much healthier unit.

When your next recruitment cycle hits, you will likely gain more than just 2 boys, because you have that much better of a program to pitch.

Schedule to sit down with your Unit Commissioner and see where you can plan a 5% improvement plan. Your Unit Commissioner’s job is to help you find the resources to make your plan work. You will be amazed at how quickly your unit will grow in a short period of time.


Prototype Unit Handbook: Request for pack and troop forms

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I am beginning a project that I want to complete by May 30th. I am looking to design a prototype of a new parent handbook.

I am asking for your help.

First I am asking each unit to email me a copy of their current handbook, annual calendar and handout on costs of membership by May 5th. We will use these as sources of best practices. Documents in a word processing file are preferred.

Second, I am looking for a panel of editors to assist in assessing the result and focusing on simplification and clarity.

Some of the concepts I will be building come from Scouting Magazine’s article last spring. They had to be more generic nationally. Ideally we as a district can put in more specifics in a prototype.

Calling all COR’s, Chairs, Cubmasters, & Scoutmaster

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At Spring Camporee, District will hold its first Annual Unit Key 3 Conference. This will take place a Camp Kikthawenund on Saturday, April 23rd from 9:00 am to 11:00 am.

It is very important that your unit be represented.

We will be discussing plans for District, resources available for units, training opportunities, and unit operations.

We will also have some guest speakers stop in and discuss council issues.

You can make your reservation online.

More effective unit committee meetings

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Bobwhite Blather is a blog written by a long-time troop committee chair. He has some wonderful insights on better managing the adults in units.

His most recent post focuses on more efficient pack/troop meetings.

One of the key points is to encourage committee members to bring a short written report with details. Then their oral reports can focus on the highlights with details available for individuals to review outside the meeting.

One of the most important tasks that a committee chair can fulfill is encouraging brevity and succinctness. One of the tried and true methods is having a written agenda with each point of conversation having a short time budget. This written agenda should be offered for review and approval by the group BEFORE the conversations begin. That way the group is invested in the proposed schedule.

For example, let’s say the chair offers an agenda that says, in part, “Discussion of next campout (10 minutes).” He starts the meeting by reviewing the minutes from the previous meeting and reviewing the agenda. “You all have my proposed agenda? Any amendments that we need to make? No? Ok, let’s get started.” Then the emphasis in the budgeted time should be clarifying who is in charge and who is assisting, summarizing the outing agenda created by the PLC, identifying resources needed, and identifying known problems. All other details should be delegated to a person or small committee to resolve within the agreed parameters.

Once the 10 minutes is expired, that does not mean that the committee chair needs to abruptly end the conversation. It does create a natural point for the chair to interrupt the conversation for a minute, saying, “We had budgeted 10 minutes for this conversation. Those 10 minutes are now up. Is there anything that we must address as a committee left. If so, how much time do we want to spend on that conversation?”

Surprisingly, keeping participants aware of the clock and asking for their input for any extensions of time is extremely effective at wrapping up wandering conversations. Often there is no further discussion to be had and the matter is quickly closed.

If there is a need for further conversation, the participants then have some sense of control over how much more discussion will take place. They become more sensitive to the need for brevity. When the next time period expires, it is usually best to resolve the matter or refer it to a small group to work through details. The unit committee is not the best place to do extensive detail work.

Please note, nowhere did I suggest an emphasis on Robert’s Rules of Order, formal proposal of motions, seconds, and votes. An effective meeting can be and often should be run without such formalities. Even so, a good chairman knows how to work within these formalities.

To fully develop this idea is a potential topic for a future post. For now, suffice it to say that knowing how formal meetings can be run allows a chair to understand the chair’s proper role in managing a meeting. The chair can make points consistent with formal procedure without reciting the magic incantations for formal procedure. The chair can say, “I see that we are out of time on this point,” rather than the more formal, “The chair finds that time is expired for debate on the question before the committee; I, therefore, call for a vote on the question.”

Committee meetings are more effective when the chair comes to the meeting with an agenda with a proposed time schedule and that time schedule is honored.