scouts-l Mail Archive for April of 2000: Re: How to "Shape Up Troop"?
Murphy Peter (MurphyP@TCE.COM
Thu Apr 06 2000 - 08:49:46 CDT
Neil's response is correct. In my first reply to you, I completely
forgot to describe an important step I took when I started turning
around my troop: make a clean break.
In my case, the previous Scoutmaster turned things over to me officially
at the end of our annual Christmas party and I gave the SM minute.
Then we had a two week break from meetings due to Christmas break.
During that time I met with the SPL and laid out my new vision and
expectations. I went to the troop's cabin that we use as our meeting place
and rearranged the furniture to visually indicate that things would be
different when the Scouts returned in the new year. When you want
to make a dramatic course correction for an organization, it's perfectly
acceptable for the adult in charge to be much more directive than
you might prefer in a smooth running troop. Once the course correction is
set, then you can start handing the controls back to the junior leadership.
In my SM Minute before Christmas I talked about my experience in the
military and how people, commanders, bosses, rotate in and out of an
organization on a regular basis. In the military, soldiers are somewhat
use to getting a new boss every year or so. For the rest of the population,
such a dramatic change causes uncertainty. Change is resisted.
I explained that I would do things different just because each of us is
a unique individual and we have to do things the way we feel comfortable
with. That doesn't mean the old way or the previous SM was bad or wrong.
It doesn't even mean that my way is better. It just means that I have
to do things the way I know how and I have to use my experience and
I told the boys about a time when I was in high school and my team got a
new coach. One day the new coach corrected me in the way I was doing
Being only human, my natural reaction was to defend my action and I started
to explain that the previous coach taught me to do it that way. The new
became angry and accused me of undermining his authority. That incident made
a lasting impression on me. I said I would remember how I felt then if
blurts out "but that's not the way Mr. S did it". And I'll try not to get
angry. HOWEVER, I want everyone to remember that Mr. S is no longer the SM.
Try to avoid saying things like "that's not the way we use to do it".
Then I told them about one of my heroes: Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, a
pioneer in computer programming and co-inventor of COBOL. She believed one
of the most damaging phrases in our language is `We've always done it this
Such thinking keeps us from moving forward and making progress. To remind
her staff never to use that phrase, she had a clock in her office with the
face printed in reverse and the hands moved counter-clockwise. When you
look at such a clock, it's a little unsettling and difficult to read. But
after awhile it becomes just as easy to read as any other clock.
Good luck. Look for some dramatic way to mark the reversal of course for
Peter Murphy, SM T125