Up and Downward Communication (was Re: Return from Philmont)
(no name) ((no email))
Thu, 20 Jun 1996 09:38:13 -0500
Dave Hultberg wrote in response to Kathie Cerveny:
>I may be cynical, but IMHO the BSA corporate structure was designed to
>restrict communications. Since we volunteers are only supposed to talk
>to our local council and national only communicates via the local
>council, the local council controls its volunteers by controlling the
>flow of information to them.
That's not all together true, Dave. You CAN talk with the staff at the
National and Regional offices; if this wasn't so, the National Office's phone
numbers would not be public nor would National encourage writers to
phone or write the National office through it's publications.
What the National Office has been doing, and recently quite successfully,
is trying NOT to come between a unit's concern (legit or not) and the local
Council, and having to decide an issue dealing with ONLY one local Council.
This is getting increasingly hard to do because of the Internet in a great
part, and because of forums like this one in particular, whereby Scouters
can get the "straight and best answers possible" to their questions, which
some turn around and directly write or call National and ask "how come".
This places the National staff in an alful situation. Because they don't have
any kind of background from the local Council other than what the volunteer
or professional or parent tells. This forces the National or Regional staffer
to basically "place the conversation on hold" and not to comment about it
until they can find out from the affected Scout Executive and get "their
slant on the story". Unfortunately, when that happens, many Scout Executives
feel that they are being either picked upon or chatisted for "not keeping their
volunteers in line" and "why is this person coming to US instead of YOU?"
Then, in many cases, the Scout Executive "takes the discussion out on the"
affected volunteer and basically tells the National staffer that "he or she will
take care of it". What happens after that conversation is open for wide debate
(and which I still have a set of Nomex-lined overclothing handy for).
>Knowledge is power and this power resides
>with the local council. If national publishes information that is
>intended for all of us anyway, why can't it be diseminated via the
>internet at the same time it is sent out to local councils. Do they
>need to put their own spin on it before we see it? We don't have a need
>to know? What benefit is gained by restricting the flow of information?
Simple. It does as Kathie wrote, basically "eliminates the role of the local
Council". Each and every local Council has a responsibility, Dave, to take
the National rules and regulations and apply them to their own Council's
operation. In some cases, this means that many of the policy letters and
procedural changes are simply ignored by the local Council because they
either wants to implement the changes in another way, because they are part
of a National study involving that program or change to that program, or
simply because the Council Scout Executive chose to "file 13" (throw it
in the garbage can) the policy. Only when his Council or he personally
is questioned about the new policy or procedure does he or she scramble for
the National policy or uses the fax-back system to get another copy.
Yes, each and every local Council places their own "spin" on the policy and
decides when they will release the item to their volunteers. For instance,
many local Councils received the information about the costs of the National
Scout Jamboree back in January; however, they "sat on it" until Feburary or
March so that it won't affect the numbers that they had to report to National
of how many have signed up for the Jamboree. Then, after releasing it,
they placed their own spin on the fees by adding in their own fees for "carrying
What benefit is gained by such restriction? Well, we have a demonstration of
one benefit right now: In order to get any information, most volunteers must
go to their Council office and basically ask or beg for it (and pray that
the most current information or want to get the most current information). The
Council serves its purpose: to be the official local clearinghouse, information
source, and "service center" for ALL of the local Councils' volunteers and the
community at-large. Without this restriction on information flow, Dave, unit
leaders would get all kinds of information, and would be confused as to whether
or not the information would be "correct in their community". Some would carry
it out and when questioned why did you do it that way, can only come back
with "well, in the absense of guidance, this is how we chose to do it",
or may not hold up in a court of law or to parents upset about "the way you
to do it".
>I am fortunate to live 5 minutes away from my council service center and
>have both a District Exec and a Scout Exec who believe in open
>communications, but I remember times in the past when I wasn't as
You are really lucky, Dave. I have to literally drag stuff from Council
on both sides of the river, and there's only a few senior professionals
will research or find out the reasoning for the stuff "we do here". Most
have a few good senior and junior professionals that understand the relationship
between professional and volunteer and aren't afriad to share what they know or
don't know about things...and if they don't know, to get as much information to
you as possible so BOTH you and they will know in the future. This seriously
affects the volunteer's perception of "being a team player" in the game of
> Many Scouters live a long drive and/or a long distance phone
>call from their service center, so there flow of information is more
>limited than mine - monthly roundtable and council newsletter? If
>national would make all this good information available on their Web
>site, it would at least facilitate getting the word out to Scouts and
>Scouters with Internet access. I realize that national doesn't have the
>time or staff to answer interactive email queries from the field, but
>they do have the resources for electronic publishing.
No, Dave, they really don't have the resources for electronic publishing
This is being developed by National Editorial staffers working closely with
agencies (for fee) to develop additional pages. By putting all of the
web pages would ONLY help those Scouters (a small percentage of that 22.8
in our nation "computer aware", with a personal computer that they use) that
web access. What about the rest of the BSA's volunteers?? What about the BSA's
many professionals that depend upon the information? Many Councils are just now
getting the registration and program software, and asking them to get personal
computers for each professional is really asking for a lot!
That inexpensive Council Newsletter and those great monthly Roundtables are the
best forums for getting and giving information and has been proven to be the
best way (for now *grinning*). I think that in a few years, by "hook or
of the BSA's Library of Literature will be available for downloading via the
Internet. There are some other concerns, for instance, the color and black
illustrations and paintings, many of which the BSA has received permission
to use or
copy in their publications.
>>Can you imagine how much training we would all have to have to fully
>>understand all sides of every issue that our national volunteer committees
>>deal with all the time? But then, that's what they are there for, they are
>>our 'patrol leaders.'
>I really have heartburn with the above statement. I don't think you
>give the average Scouter enough credit on how much we do understand.
>I'll bet we understand more than you think we do and probably more than
>some professionals would like us to.
That's the "bottom line up front", Dave!! There are LOTS of professionals whom
we have given power to because of our lack of commitment and willingness to
take our program back...and now, that we want it back, they are unwilling to
parts or all of it back to us.
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (Settummanque, the blackeagle) (
co-Owner, Blackeagle Services of Kentucky (502.826.7046) __)_
174 Chapelwood Drive, Henderson, Kentucky 42420-5036 | ** |]
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