Project Two and Disney

On November 15, 2012 Dan Zaccara received an e-mail from Gary Butler telling him a charter had been approved by now Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock and his cabinet for a new project. This one was to be called the Scouting University Design Project.

The terms Scouting University and Scouting U had been used by Gary for several months while we discussed the concept of a single learning department. But at this point, at least for some of us, a Scouting U was just one of the several ideas. We were still using Council Operations Learning Strategy in most of what we wrote.

Even though I did not know it yet, the project was now named Scouting University and this title would become a greater part of our discussions.

The new charter contained a lot of Gary’s, and our, vision for the future from our conversations over the past year and a half.


Create/implement a federal model for corporate learning to resolve issues with lack of coordination in training personnel at the Unit, Council and National level. To address waste and redundancy that exists in current training. To solve issues related to ROI on the BSA’s training investment – currently a low return and not equating to performance. To centralize learning philosophy and methodology while allowing flexibility and autonomy in the organization’s four business units (Supply Group, National Council Program Facilities, Mission Delivery, National Council) by taking advantage of best practices in corporate learning.

Key Objectives
Develop and execute a strategy using industry best practices in corporate learning
• Integrate all personnel (volunteers and employees) responsible for the delivery of the Scouting mission through councils, districts, and units
• To have a consistent and centralized learning methodology
• Provide Mission Delivery personnel the skills, knowledge, and competencies to optimize their roles and effectiveness
• Develop support mechanisms for them to reach their full potential
• Create an effective, efficient, and economic model that leverages technology, team based learning, barrier free learning at all levels of the organization

• Create centers of excellence that demonstrate best practices and processes that can be leveraged throughout the organization and at all levels

The scope of the project included:
• Design and development of:
• Creating a federal training model
• Central learning philosophy and methodology
• Create a governing committee with representatives from all four business units
• Development of new design on how learning will be administered and delivered within Mission Delivery (those who insure the mission of Scouting is delivered) without necessarily impacting organizational charts
• Integrate where appropriate industry best practices both not for profit and for profit
• Operational time table and assignment of new roles for impacted personnel; volunteers and employees
• Establishment of standardized learning practices and processes, curriculum, and delivery models

Doug Krofina and I were soon informed the idea of a single learning department was still a possibility and were told about the new project charter and Scouting University. Project two was now more than just implementation of the first project we thought it would be.

In early February of 2013, during the national committee and board meetings, Doug, Dan, Gary, and I met with Fred Meijering, the BSA’s Director of Human Resources, Innovation, and Research, in Dan’s room at the Courtyard Marriott in Coppell, Texas.

Fred was now on board with the idea of a common learning strategy and was coming around on a workforce-wide learning effort. The meeting was to set the groundwork for beginning the new project.

Dan would continue as chair. Gary appointed Mary Marris as our new project manager. Doug and I would continue to serve on the task force and Fred would join. We discussed names of additional members from other of the BSA’s business units which should be included. One of the first and most active over the life of the second project was Al Landon from the information delivery group.

During the conversation Gary casually mentioned perhaps the task force should attend a course at the Disney Institute.


While we had reviewed how many companies and organizations trained their workforce during phase one, and eventually included concepts from several of them, the Disney University and Disney Institute model seemed to be the most favored. Gary had previously attended a Disney Institute course and I had used their concepts as the director of the Philmont Training Center. We had agreed it might a good model to explore in more detail.

I had always wanted to attend a DI course, so almost as soon as the words were out of Gary’s mouth, I was looking at the course offerings and checking out air fares to Orlando on my laptop. Before we left Dan’s room, we had tentatively agreed to attend a course called “Disney’s Approach to Selection, Training & Engagement” on April 3-6, 2013.

As we made plans for the six of us to attend, we sadly found Gary would not be able to due to the leadership he had to give to the brewing membership standards issue, and Dan would not be able to attend due to some health challenges. In their place Doug selected Tom Jansen from his team and I selected Peter Self from my team. Mary Marris would soon join us as our new project manager.

After attending DI, most of us believed Disney University would be a good model to follow for Scouting University. Their peer training model matched the BSA’s training model. They were willing to share how they are so successful and would help us fit their ideas to the BSA. Their leadership and customer service ideas fit the BSA well in councils and in camps. We liked their “internal” Disney University and “external” Disney Institute model. We already had Scouting University as our working name and thought we could have a Scouting Institute someday to share Scouting leadership concepts with the business community.

Further, we knew since Disney is one of the most recognized brands in the world, if not the most, almost everyone would have a positive impression of “something Disney.” We would not have to explain why we were using their concepts as much as we would with those of other organizations we had considered. We believed this head start would speed up and enhance learning.

So “DThink” and what we had learned in Orlando became a part of our conversation for the rest of the project.


In April of 2013, Doug invited me to his Professional Training Needs Council meeting in Tucson. I was able to share some of the ideas we were working on in volunteer development and the Team Based Learning model we were planning to use in our training. Just as we had included Doug in planning for volunteer training, Doug was now including me in planning professional training. We hoped we were laying groundwork and the vision for the future combined effort.

Disney had taught us setting and communicating a clear vision was critical. So, one of the early things we wanted to have was a vision and mission statement for the new department. We knew we needed these as a guide.

On December 19-20, 2011 the new chair of the national volunteer training committee, Joel Eacker, had met with the volunteer development staff – Ron Timmons, Sara Lacobee (later Shepard), Peter Self, and me – at the Center for Professional Development in Westlake to build a new strategic plan for volunteer training. Doug joined the group for parts of the meeting and provided his thoughts.

As our volunteer development team was building a strategic plan there were of course several similarities with what was coming out of the growing conversations around the first project, and our dreams for the learning department. We were able to use parts of the volunteer plan in the deliberations of the learning strategy task force.

For example, the volunteer development team had come up with these:

Vision – We enable a training (soon changed to learning) culture that supports regions, areas, and councils to deliver effective, fun, and accessible training to all adult and youth leaders.

Mission – It is the mission of the Volunteer Training Team to support the mission of the Boy Scouts of America by:
• Working cross-functionally with stakeholders, producing training resources, products, and strategies which enable councils to deliver effective, fun, and accessible training to all adult and youth leaders.
• Creating opportunities to enhance leadership skills in youth and adults through advanced training.
• Continually assessing our training and delivery model to ensure relevant and effective training for both the current and future states of an evolving Boy Scouts of America.

Ron Timmons with the new vision statement

The learning strategy task force later created these for the new project:

Vision: It is the vision of the BSA National Center for Learning and Performance to be recognized as a premier provider of accessible, quality learning experiences.

Mission: To strengthen the quality of services and leadership impact on youth programs through enriching, effective, and fun learning opportunities by providing quality training resources and fostering a continuous learning culture.

We had a project, a model to follow, a vision, and a mission. Now we could start to build Scouting University.

Next: Scouting University