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Blog: Planning and preparing for the future

3rd February 2016

In his latest blog, our vice-Chairman Fraser reflects on a busy and productive weekend on many fronts at Auchengillan, but involving the whole Region.

Preparing for our biggest ever Explorer Belt expedition in 2017, there was a parents and participants evening on Friday night. 96 Explorers and Networkers from all 7 Districts, aged 16 to 24 will trek 100 miles unsupported over 10 days through Switzerland, with the potential to enter neighbouring Czech Republic, Austria, and a few others. En route back to the UK the group will stop at Europe's three most popular theme parks and spend five days at Kandersteg World Scout Centre.

Across in The Providore, Stuart Yuill and his team ran training for new 18 new volunteers and the Auchengillan Young Leader Explorer Scout Unit was up for the weekend, helping with final preparations for this year’s Sub Zero.

John Rafferty (Raff), ARC Explorers hosted a Scottish Jamboree Leaders reunion on Saturday Evening and on Sunday Scott Douglas, recently appointed SHQ Commissioner for Explorer Scouts hosted a meeting of his support team.

During the day on Saturday, 56 representatives from our Districts across Clyde Region, aged 16 and upwards gathered to discuss a strategy to help grow our Region under the guidance of Professor Robert Macintosh, from Herriot Watt University. Robert has developed and delivered strategy development programmes for a range of public and private sector organisations including a number of FTSE-listed firms and he co-founded Stride which provides on-line resources for those developing strategy in their organisations.

So, what is a strategy? More importantly, why would we need one?

Well in this particular context strategy defines the medium to long term priorities of an organisation and is applicable to all types, whether it be commercial, public, or third sector (us). The workshop gave a brief overview of the key concepts of strategy assembly and guidance on how to operationalise these in a pragmatic and objective manner. The intention is to ensure clarity over key measures, processes and obstacles such that these can be effectively and concisely communicated to the wider region, in particular our groups and districts.

In the morning the group split into teams to consider three topics: Growth and Development, Programme Support and Governance & Trading. We discussed the challenges faced at Regional, District, Group and section levels from each of these viewpoints and traced the issues back to a common source. We recognised a very diverse skill set at all levels, however most issues were backtracked to a sense of "stuck"ness. An air of being set indefinitely in a way of doing things, and in certain cases a reluctant attitude towards the natural evolution and progression in our activities. We wondered whether this "but we've always done it this way" mindset (in places) stood in the way of maximising the range and potential of our volunteers?

The afternoon session was spent thinking about how to ease the progression of leadership, constructing a set of sentences to succinctly communicate our conclusions, and how to measure the success of the strategy:

To ease the progression of leadership, it was decided that there should be a continuous progression of volunteers through leadership roles, using more seasoned members to mentor and guide the new appointees through their roles. This will simultaneously achieve several goals:

  • It will give a more targeted and objective method of appointing successors, hopefully leading to smoother transitions.
  • It will provide more opportunities for, and greater potential for personal development for all volunteers, regardless of age and standing.
  • It will give a more effective system of retaining explorer young leaders and volunteers new to scouting. This will help counteract falling adult volunteer numbers, which is a significant problem in some groups.
  • It should help to keep the programme up to date and interesting for the participants.

Aspointed out to a group of explorer scouts involved in the discussions, "us old guys, we're not the future. You guys are." The aim bring not to get rid of longer serving volunteers, but to build on their experience to start a process of ever refreshing leadership in the best interests of the young people.

Overall the day was a huge success. In terms of objective planning it was a huge step forward, and we have now framed a strategy for the next five to ten years - to be released in the coming weeks. But what was most reassuring was the difference in ages and experiences present, and how well everyone worked as a team. Academic, pensioner, or school pupil, all had their say and made a fair contribution to the end product.

Author: Gary Bainbridge

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