Lead to Performance

Forming-storming-norming-performing-300x159Show me a team that is not performing at a high level and I will show you a lack of vision.
The mark of a high performance team is a team that is heading in the same direction with the same purpose and goals oriented toward seeing a vision become real.  In the stages of team development we know that all team go through the four stages of Forming, Storming, Norming, and then Performing.  Some move through the stages and achieve that high performance level quickly while others seem to bog down on one stage or another.  Again, we can see the mark of a high performance team if they can move from Storming to Performing quickly and without the destruction of the team.
So, what are some of those obstacles that cause a team to fail or bog down?
Drama.  This is perhaps the single biggest obstacle in achieving goals.  People that are stuck in their own agenda.  People that do not have the team set as the priority and are not willing to put others before themselves.  Drama creates sub teams or groups within the team that begin to form camps.  This behavior is destructive.
Agenda.  When a team member is hung up or comes to the team with an agenda other than that which supports the vision of the team, the team will suffer.  We see this in Scouting when we have parents transition into our units with the goal of making their son and Eagle Scout.  While I understand the desire for every parent to see their son achieve this Award, it is not important in the grand scheme of things.  When that parent or group of parents crea
te this environment they put their desire over the goals of the team.
Lack of Knowledge.  This obstacle is the easiest to overcome but it takes willing participants.  We get a lack of knowledge or understanding when we do not know that goal and how to get there.  A lack of or failure to get trained.  A lack of or failure to embrace the goals of the team.  And a lack of “want to” to learn.  We all have busy lives and sometimes Scouts takes a back seat to other things.  Training tends to become less important to people that are busy and feel that the team and its goals are less important than themselves.
So what?
Every unit, no matter what that unit is, should be heading to being a high performance team.  If it is not, then why be a team at all.  Achieving goals and building the team up is a great way to build up the individuals on the team.  A Troop committee or a Patrol should be goal oriented and willing to put the team first
in order to accomplish those goals.  When we have Drama, Agendas, and a Lack of Knowledge the team gets stuck in the Storming phase or finds itself falling back into Storming over and over and eventually can not seem to pull itself out of it.  The ability for the team to move on is important without that ability the team is destined to fail.
The solution.  Be a leader and know what to look for in the stages of team development.  Be a leader and create an environment that does not allow for drama and keep agenda’s in check.  Be a leader and ensure that all the members of the team understand the vision and the goals and have an active role in achieving a part of the direction leading toward the goal.  In short keep the arrows all heading in the right direction.  Leaders provide Purpose, Direction, and Motivation to move their team toward being a high performance team.  A healthy team has good leadership that creates a positive environment that is completely goal oriented.  Creating this environment keeps the team focused and heading in the right direction.  That direction is high performance.  Once the team gets a taste of it, they never want to go back.
The bottom line.. Lead the team to high performance.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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campfireIf you play a game that has a desired outcome or purpose it is important that you first know what that purpose is and then have some way of knowing if you achieved the results you were looking for.
By and large that is the reason we have an Eagle Scout Board of Review.  We can assess and determine though the interview with the Scout whether or not the program is delivering the promise of Scouting and achieving its goals of helping make young people of character, good citizens, that are physically fit.  Along with all of that, do they make ethical choices and does it look like they will do the same in the future.
Reflection is an important part of every thing that we do in Scouting.  It allows us to take a look back and see if we achieved the outcomes we want in playing our game.
Reflection comes in many forms, we can do it as a group or take time in silent reflection.  But no activity is complete until the reflection is done.
This last weekend our Troop went camping.  First winter camp out of the year and we went caving on Saturday exploring the largest Lava tube cave in the US.  It is adventurous and challenging and our Scouts love to test themselves.  As with most outings or activities a theme develops throughout the weekend.  This weekend the theme quickly became “Rising to the Challenge”.  Overcoming hardship, attitudes, and things that make you uncomfortable were some of the behaviors that we noticed in our Scouts as they went through the weekend.
For some of the Scouts it was the first time they would camp in sub freezing temperatures.  For some it was their first time in a cave.  For others it was a leadership challenge as they learned that as a leader there were Scouts that depended on them to just get through the weekend.  Cold weather, challenging experiences, and doing something new and difficult.
These young men learned and practiced great leadership.  I was pleased to watch as members of the Patrol Leaders Council made their way through camp checking on the younger Scouts.  Instructing them on how to get through the night.  Reassuring younger Scouts that they will be ok and that if they do what they are taught, they will be warmer in the morning and will be able to have a better experience in winter camping.
I walked through camp Saturday night around 10:30 and found gear properly stored, tents pitched with all the tie outs in place and the sounds of tired happy Scouts sitting in their tents, the gentle glow of a headlamp lighting the green nylon of a tent fly.
Sunday morning leadership was once again challenged as cold fingers attempted to pack even colder nylon tents and sleeping bags.  Our departure time was supposed to be 9:00 AM.  We missed it by 20 minutes, but the reason was acceptable to me.  The Troop was in Patrol lines taking a few minutes to share a few things they learned over the weekend.  Patrol leaders talking with their patrols about the challenges they faced over the weekend and how they all rose to the challenge.  Before we loaded up I shared with them my pride in them and how they are great young men.  I shared with them the fact that they needed to reflect on the weekend and see just how much they learned about skills, their attitude, and how they grew because of the experience.  The final question that I asked them to reflect on was this, Is there any place you would rather be?
When we got back to the hall and parents started arriving to pick up their Scouts, many of the Scouts came to me and shared the answer to that last question.  Each and every one of them say “NO WHERE ELSE”.
So reflecting back on this weekend I would say Promise Delivered and Program solid.
It is important to reflect.  You may not always get the answer you want, that is your opportunity to learn and grow doing better next time.  If things are going well… keep it that way!  Don’t let it slip.
Make sure that reflection time is a part of your program.  Have the Scouts take time to reflect and have serious reflection on how they are doing in the Scouting program.  It is a game with a purpose, without reflection, you will not know if that purpose is being met.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Posted in Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, Character, Citizenship, fitness, High Adventure, Ideals, Leadership, Scouting, Winter Camping | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Social Media and me

Hey all…
Needless to say it’s been a real busy time here and I have let my posting slide.. know that you have heard that before and I make no apology.  After all, you understand what is important and not so much.
So what’s new?
Well, I was asked a few months ago to be on a small committee for the Council.  This committee is the Social Media committee and is charged with telling our story.. hey that is right up my ally.  I think that Scouting’s story is an important part of our movement.  I also think that more and more our story and the way it’s told is an important part in many aspects of Scouting.  Social Media being an important part of our world today plays a much great role in Scouting.  The Millennial generation of parents that are bringing their Cub Scout age boys to our program.  It is the way in which they communicate and share information.  The research, learn, and make choices based on what they see, read, and hear through Social media outlets.  Google, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are all means to reaching our target audience.
I got into this discussion at the National Order of the Arrow Conference this year when the youth clearly sent a message about technology and how they use it in Scouting.  Those young men have tech savvy parents too and time is more precious to them than money.  Instant information that is clear, available, and easy to use is what they want.  They don’t want an extra meeting to be told what they can gather from a quick read or search on the net.
So our Council has made a decision to take the message and put it out there where the audience is.  Smart if you ask me.  Telling our story using the right media (multi media outlets) so we can stretch our reach and impact a greater audience.
Myself and Adam Cox from the Scouter Adam Blog are now telling our story.  Sharing news and great stories from within Scouting and in particular the Cascade Pacific Council.  We are now the Hosts of the Compass Points Podcast and the Council is sharing our posts from our blogs in the Council feed.
So what does that mean?  Well it should mean that the blog will be more active.  And I think it will.
So far as this blog.  More video, more gear talk, and more stories about our Scouting life.  Keeping in mind that we want to share our story to promote Scouting here and around Scouting.
Will there be gaps.. yeah, I’m afraid there will be.  I am just me and I need to get my camping in and oh yeah.. family, troop, etc.  So bare with me.. I’ve asked that before and you always hang in there.. and I appreciate it.
Well, here is episode 1 of the Compass Points Podcast.  Yep I will be posting them here.  Just because it will be CPC centric doesn’t mean that the information, stories, and whatnot won’t apply everywhere.
We will be shooting to get 2 podcasts out a month.

So what’s your Scouting story.. share it here.. if you want, we could use it on the podcast too.  We all have a story to tell about our incredible Scouting experience.  Please share.
By the way.. if you are not already doing it.. you can follow me on Twitter @smjerry  gonna try to use that more too.
You can check out the story of our Council on Twitter @cpcbsa
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Warbonnet XLC

DSCN1876Here is a short video I shot today of a first look at my new Warbonnet Outdoors XLC.
The XLC hammock is an improvement of the Blackbird hammock.  XL standing for “Extra Large” is 1 foot longer than the Blackbird giving the hammock a more comfortable and flatter lay for larger hangers.  Since I am 5’11” I notice a big difference in the comfort right off the bat.
The “C” stands for convertible.  The bug netting can be totally removed to create a Traveler Hammock or a winter cover can replace the bug netting for winter camping.  I personally opted not to get the winter cover as I have winter camped in the Blackbird for many years without one and do just fine.. that and it saved me $65.
I chose to use Whoppie slings instead of webbing and buckles, this takes down the weight a bit and gives me some options when it comes to tree distance.
Anyway, check out this side by side comparison of the Blackbird and the XLC.  You will find that basically they are the same hammock, the XLC edging out the Blackbird in comfort and lay for taller hangers.

Let me know what you think.  Are you doing the hammock camping yet?  If not.. why?
Off for a wonderful nights sleep in the hammock tonight in the backyard hammock lab.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Why Zero Tolerance is a bad leadership policy

3strikes_w_sig_cmykSomewhere around 1972 a new term hit the world of behavior science and changing the way we punish undesirable behavior.  The consequence of that change in thought removed the ability for leaders, judges, and people in authority to make decisions.
Zero Tolerance removes discretion.  For this reason it is a terrible leadership policy.  Leaders need to have the ability to make decisions and evaluate the behavior and the effect that it had on the group.  Leaders need to be fair and just.  Zero Tolerance does not allow for that.  Zero Tolerance establishes a set punishment for a set offense.  It does not take into account the level or severity of the offense and what the result of the offense was.
As a leader we need to know that everything is not equal and some things are more severe than others.  We talk about having a Zero Tolerance policy when it comes to bullying.  On the surface that seems great.  But given Zero Tolerance there is no need to investigate the offense.  One person claims that another was a bully and the case is closed.  What happened?  How did it happen?  Was someone having a bad day?  What was said?  It doesn’t matter as long as one person feels they were bullied.
We talk about zero tolerance when it comes to knife safety.  This eliminates the learning opportunity and creates fear of using the tool.
We recently had a case here in our town where a middle school student wore a t shirt to school that had a picture of an M4 carbine covered in a helmet.  Commonly referred to as a soldiers cross.  We see them in memorials to fallen soldiers and were common place on battle fields over the ages.  The teacher was obligated because a “zero tolerance” policy about guns to report the young man and he was suspended.
The authority figure here was not allowed to use discretion.  The authority here was not allowed to use common sense and make a decision based on the policy.  A picture of the rifle, while it can never do harm is still a rifle and therefore falls under the policy of zero tolerance.
In my opinion this is horrible leadership.  It does not accomplish a behavior change, it does not pass the common sense test and does not allow for leaders to make a judgement call.
Who gets hurt?  What is the crime?  What is the outcome?  None of these questions are allowed in a zero tolerance environment.
So when we use zero tolerance in our Troops we do not teach leadership and we do not let leaders go through the decision making process.  We don’t use the death penalty for every crime, so we should be more fair when looking at behavior change and policy in our Troop.
For this reason and others, our Troop does not have a policy book or set of by laws.  We use the Scout Oath and Law.  The Oath and Law are not subject to “Zero Tolerance”.. they are values that shape the way a young man thinks and acts.  They are values that allow for the Scout to answer the question.. DID I?  Did I act in accordance with the Oath and Law.  It allows for a graduated scale when looking to change behavior. We don’t have to be either/or we can have a discussion and be good teachers and mentors.
Zero Tolerance is bad leadership policy and does not work in Scouting.  Don’t fall into that PC trap.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Living or Dying

r1933A Scout Troop is a family.. and it’s either living or dying.  It’s either growing or shrinking, viable or withering on the vine.  There are many reasons for this, but the point of the matter is that if we are not watching for it we will let units fail.  It isn’t always easy to pinpoint one thing or another, but the more you focus the clearer the issues become and the faster a unit can recover when it finds itself dying.
I find that a close examination of the how the unit is using the methods is a great start.  Oh and by the way, this is important for units that are living and living well too.  You may just find that you are slipping in an area that down the road can lead to a cancer that can not be cured in the unit.
Is the unit using all eight of the methods or just picking and choosing which ones are important to them?  I liken that practice to picking and choosing which of the values in the Scout Law are less important and need not apply.
A strong program relies on the methods to achieve the goals of Scouting.  Too many units favor advancement over other methods.  I have seen those units race their Scouts to Eagle and then die.. they lost the older Scouts and leadership.  The families disengage once their son “Eagles Out” [a term that does not have any place in Scouting].  There is no longer a dog in the hunt for the family and the Scout feels as though he has reached the end.  NO NO… he has just begun.  Now it’s time to give back and be a leader.  But with the emphasis on advancement, the Scout and his family see no other needs that the unit can provide.
Some Troops believe that the Patrol Method is all you need.  While I agree that the Patrol method is everything to the Patrol and health of the Troop, it is certainly not all you need.  Where do you practice the Patrol method?  At Troop meetings?  Sure, some, but its the Outdoor program that makes the Patrol method come alive.. so no the Patrol method is not all you need.  How do you put into practice the Ideals of Scouts, you know those ideals and values found in the Scout Oath and Law?  You need a well planned and executed Service program in the life of the Troop.  Service opportunities that engage the Scout and teach him to be a selfless servant to others.  This is a wonderful leadership trait as well.  Being a servant leader will certainly get the young man farther and reinforce the ideals of Scouting.
I once heard a quote, and I want to say it came from Baden Powell, “Show me a poorly uniformed troop and I’ll show you a poorly uniformed leader.”  The uniform is an important part of Scouting.  I have talked about this before so I won’t beat that horse to death, but the uniform is an essential part of Scouting.  It builds the team.  It helps with discipline.  It is a great equalizer.  The uniform connects us in the World Brotherhood of Scouting and is the most visible part of the Scout in public.  It should be worn completely and correctly.  Many adult leaders make a choice to allow jeans and other parts of the uniform to be exchanged.  They claim that it is a money issue.  It isn’t.  A Scout is thrifty.  He can always go mow a lawn, rake some leaves, or even sell popcorn to buy a new uniform or pants for it.  Taking the easy way out on the uniform reflects the attitude of the leader to not use the methods of Scouting completely.  “Attitude reflects leadership” so says my favorite quote from the movie Remember the Titans.  This attitude of pick and choose can do more harm than good in the long run and it has been my observation that it can ultimately lead to a unit dying.
And no.. it’s not about the uniform.  It’s about the methods.  Those tried and true methods that lead our youth to a better understanding of who they are and what they will become.  It teaches Character, Citizenship, and Fitness.  And that my friends is why do Scouting.  We believe this works and that is proven daily, weekly, monthly in units all across our country.  It is proven in the Eagle Scouts that go on to do great things in their lives and in the Scouts that go into the world and become Dads that raise wonderful people.  Scouting works, but we need to keep it alive.  Using the eight methods will keep it from dying.
The methods need to be visible in your annual plan, in your interactions with the Scout, and in your attitude.  That will reflect great leadership.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Posted in blog, Character, fitness, Good Turn Daily, Ideals, Journey to Excellence, Leadership, Methods, Motto, Oath and Law, Patrol Method, planning, Scout Law, Scouting, Service, Values, Wood Badge | 2 Comments

Hanging Your Pack

Here is a video I shot a while ago about taking care of your gear out in the woods.
This is the method I use for keeping my pack and gear high and dry and clean.

Have A Great Scouting Day!

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