While a single department was now on the back burner, we continued to meet almost weekly with the idea of working toward the original goal of consistent, coordinated training in the BSA – and meeting my strategic plan goal.
For the most part though, the meetings of the task force focused developing a project charter, with a lot of side conversations about what training could be in the BSA. At first it was a bit frustrating.
Eventually we came up with the charter for this first project:
“Identify a unified learning strategy for volunteers and employees responsible for delivering the mission of the BSA.”
• Determine the business need and desired outcomes.
• Develop formal documentation (matrix) that defines the learning strategy.
• Develop and establish an evaluative measure to determine if learning took place.
• Develop and establish evaluative measures and guidelines to validate if business objective has been met (updated 3-5 year plan)
• Develop a learning framework, interchangeable among Scouting role teams (volunteers and employees).
• Develop implementation plan for learning strategy.
• Collect best practice examples
• Engage external SME’s (Subject Matter Experts)
• Develop project plan
• Develop cost estimates
At the March 26, 2012 meeting I was assigned the task of building a list of external resources with large organizational training experience so we could study best practices. With some research and input from the task force we came up with a list which included Starbucks, Google, Procter and Gamble, the Armed Services, the YMCA, the Walt Disney Company, and several others. We gathered as many materials as we could about their workforce training functions from friends, family, the internet, and asking the organizations themselves.
Another major task, led by Doug, was to gather all the training being done by the various departments of the BSA, classify it as job related or skills development, and engage their subject matter experts. Initially we thought there might be some reluctance from some groups to share and be included and had even excluded two of the BSA’s business units from the original scope. However, Doug discovered we had excellent cooperation from all the business units and soon felt the need to eventually make the learning delivery concept all-encompassing. Still, at this point the project was still focused on Council Operations learning.
At the May 2012 National Annual Meeting Doug Krofina and I facilitated an elective on effective presentations. While the main topic was to help with our pet peeve of bad PowerPoints, part of our interest was to gauge the interest among attendees for both the learning strategy and the joint training concept. Another goal was to show the BSA world volunteer and professional training could indeed work well together and we had similar learning objectives. We received positive feedback on all counts so Doug and I thought it went very well.
We had learned and determined we needed to use desired competencies of BSA roles as we created training in the future. We decided to start by examining den leaders and district executives to build a model for future training design and research. We felt these two workforce roles were the largest and important, perhaps the most important, in making a learning impact on the BSA.
Doug’s team, and Jim Reed in HR, had already started a project to determine district executive competencies with DDI (Designs Development International – a talent management consultant) as part of the development of a replacement for the Professional Development series.
While we reviewed existing research on youth program volunteer competencies from 4-H and the BSA, we decided we could also use DDI for the den leader study. On June 22, 2012 DDI conducted a focus group of den leaders. We received their report on August 27, 2012. From this report we learned using the competency discovery process was going to be viable for discovering what the most important topics were so they could be included in role-based training in the future.
Happily, we also learned the desired competencies elaborated in the 4-H and previous BSA studies were consistent with what DDI found. We also found the main thing den leaders wanted to know in “basic” training was what to do when “eight little boys showed up at my house on Tuesday afternoon.” The other things could come later. So, we figured we had a solid base on information to start to work on new unit leader training courses and started creating them on that basis.
At, and in between, our meetings we continued to share and discuss the learning ideas we were gathering. We eagerly reviewed what we were learning from other organizations and what other departments in the BSA were doing in our effort to gather the best practices which fit our dream model.
From my perspective these conversations were extremely valuable and informative. We were able to see what a collaborative learning environment might be. As we developed new volunteer training during this period, we used more and more of the concepts we were discovering, and modeled the structure and focus of the volunteer training committee based on the best practices.
At a retreat with members of the national volunteer training committee and area training chairs at the Philmont Training Center in November 2012 I shared my Strategic Plan goal and the idea of a potential new learning strategy. Happily again, it was very well received as it had been at the National Meeting. They too had seen the disconnect in training in their service areas, the benefits of sharing resources, and the benefits of training volunteers and professionals in like roles together.
End of Project One
The learning project deliberations were coming up with a lot of good ideas, but still, a great deal of the time spent in meetings was just tweaking the wording of the project charter and the charter documents. Doug, project chair Dan Zaccara, and I agreed we had accomplished all we could with this phase and needed to move on to implementation.
On January 7, 2013 Rod proposed in an e-mail to Dan this project be considered complete. So, the following project summary document was produced for review by the BSA management:
Council Operations Learning Strategy
The Boy Scouts of America has a very large and diverse workforce of over one million volunteers and employees who design, develop, and deliver Scouting. Volunteers make up over 99% of this workforce, with significant turnover and transition of roles.
Teaching/learning needs range from basic and advanced business operations, to management and leadership, to “Scouting Skills” and more. In addition, the BSA manages skills, leadership, and developmental training for nearly four million youth members.
Develop a unified learning strategy for council operations that reflects the fundamentals of how we learn. This fundamental strategy should be applied to all levels of Scouting, professional and volunteer. This consistent approach should facilitate communications among all levels of Scouting.
Explain How it Works:
Learning will be designed, developed, and delivered in the pattern of Onboarding, Positional Training, On the Job Training, and Personal/Positional Development. Individual assessment occurs at each step of the learning. When an individual in the workforce changes roles, training/learning will begin at Onboarding or Positional Training depending on if, the change is to a new level in Scouting or a new position at the same level.
Content of training is determined: by positional responsibilities; by a need to eliminate gaps in learning; to improve communication among roles; by timing; to enhance pre-determined competencies for the role(s).
When positional responsibilities among employees and volunteers overlap, training content and delivery also overlap.
A modern and diverse workforce requires a blended strategy using a variety of methods. The primary methods used by the BSA are:
• Mentored e-learning
• Team-based learning
• Personal coaching/mentoring
• Centers of Excellence
• Consistent “language” and message for all members of the workforce
• Consistent format for design, development, and delivery of training in the organization
• Designed to meet the competencies necessary for success in a role
• Saves time and manpower as learning is developed and delivered cross-functionally
• Creates efficiencies and leads to more effective learning
• Process fits and strengthens the known learning patterns of the workforce
• Share the strategy with those involved in teaching/learning
• Develop cross-functional teams to:
• Identify gaps
• Design and develop learning tools
• Deliver teaching/learning
The completed project was still just a strategy for learning in the BSA, and specifically just for Council Operations. The idea of a single learning department was boiling under the surface, but it was about to become closer to reality.
Soon, I would find more out the reason for Dan and Gary Butler’s eagerness to end this first project.
Next: Phase Two and Disney