Electronic Forms and the BSA (Long)
Rodger Morris (rlm@SUNED1.NSWSES.NAVY.MIL)
Tue, 20 Jun 1995 11:54:36 PDT
>I would like to see a push for electronic forms....
>The response was as follows: They believe that there isn't a large
>enough market to support the work it would take to create them for every
>word processor on the market.
>They do have a good point, however, those of us who are computer
>oriented see this as a no-brainer. I even told them that if they would
>make a policy to accept them, that I would do the work for free.
>If any of you have thoughts or know the process to convince a council
>or national to accept electronic forms vs pre-printed forms. Please
>Blayden M. Thompson
"It is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission."
Commodore Grace "Amazing Grace" Hopper, USN
Grace Hopper was the second computer programmer and the first female
computer programmer in the world. Her saying is widely quoted throughout
the U.S. Navy and elsewhere.
I am presently writing a troop homepage, a council homepage, and a "where to
go camping" homepage. When I finish them, I'll set them up and run them all
as an integral part of my troop's homepage.
My Council Executive is a great guy in many ways, but he doesn't seem to believe
that computers have any valid role to play in Scouting outside of the council
office. If and when, I plan to ask for forgiveness for mentioning the Ventura
County council in my troop's homepage. In the meantime, I am doing what I can
to improve the resources available to the Scouts and Scouters in my community,
district and council. I shall not ask for permission, as it is my right to set
up a homepage for my troop, and this right is not dependent upon permission from
any entity of the BSA.
In my case, this is helped by the fact that there are a significant (and
number of Scouts who are surfing the Internet. They will be quick to find and
use the resources I shall be putting on-line. Where they go, some of their adult
leaders will soon follow.
The BSA needs to jettison the old strict hierarchical and monolithic pyramidal
structure personified by the old IBM and embrace the new communications
technology in the same way that the World Organization of the Scout Movement
(WOSM) is doing. I recommend "Out of the Crisis" by Duncan Deming, the father of
the "Total Quality Management" concept, as reading material for those interested
in the ramifications of "flattening. Mr. Deming wrote about for-profit
but his general principles apply to all organizations that seek to provide goods
and/or services to others.
The BSA will indeed change, "will they, nill they" (willy-nilly), with their
co-operation, their inaction, or even despite their entrenched opposition. As
Bob Dylan once sang, "for the times, they are a changin'". One would hope that
the BSA is quick to seek out and use the benefits the new technologies can bring
to the unit level Scouters "in the trenches". However, in the long run, it won't
matter. The unit level leaders will start to embrace electronic forms, and this
in its turn will eventually force the BSA national office to implement their
It has always been thus in the 85 year history of the BSA. I see no reason why
this particular issue should be the exception to the rule.
After all, almost all of the professional staffers at the BSA national office
are basically very nice people and dedicated Scouters who are almost totally
clueless when confronted with new computer-based technology. The same is true
at all levels within the BSAs professional service. It is likewise true that
some of the District Executives are increasingly computer literate. One need
only consider Craig Bond and Robert Drueckhammer as cases in point. Consider
also that they and/or others like them will eventually be in the top
professional management positions within the BSA professional service.
One should not commit the error of thinking that most of the BSA professional
staff members are neo-Luddites. My Council Executive, for example, has recently
allowed volunteers to set up Windows For Workgroups on the council's PCs and set
up Windows NT Server, V3.5 to provide network services. Bean counter or not,
a good Joe who is doing his level best for our council and for the boys and
it serves. He is also prepared to trust his volunteers and let them lead. I
1) Do the templates.
2) Publish them in this forum as downloadable files.
3) Use them yourself.
4) Show other Scouters in your area how to use them.
5) Smile while you're waiting for the BSA national office to accept the fait
6) Be prepared to keep smiling for years, as the oftimes ponderous BSA
bureaucracy struggles to enter the last decade of the 20th century.
After all, if the U.S. federal government in general and the Internal Revenue
Service is now accepting many forms in electronic format, can the BSA be very
far behind? ;-)
Yours in Scouting,
Rodger Morris, firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 852, Ventura County Council (CA), BSA
National Woodbadge 416, Philmont, 1973
"I used to be a Beaver..."
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City