Why Commissioner Tools?

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By Garry Lewis with Rick Hillenbrand

When the Commissioner Tools Focus Group began the process of writing requirements for Commissioner Tools, the team went to the doctrinal publications to establish what commissioners do. Then, we asked a couple of questions:

  • How could Commissioner Tools facilitate commissioner processes?
  • What information is needed to support commissioners?

In the following table, commissioner tasks are found in the left column, and Commissioner Tools support for commissioners are found in the right column. While Commissioner Tools does not do everything we would like it to do, it certainly moves us in the right direction.

Commissioner Tasks/Functions Commissioner Tools Capabilities
Commissioner Orientation Provide a record of previous contacts/assessments, roundtable attendance, Key 3 information
Charter Renewal Record unit assessments and provide Unit Health reports
Priority Needs Ability to identify, track, and report units with priority needs
Unit Evaluations Record assessments
Assessment Forms Electronic distribution; online completion; permanent record
Unit Action Planning Meeting Schedule a future meeting with unit leaders to develop a Unit Service Plan
Operating Committees Record and track district operating committee support
Unit Contacts Record and report unit contacts
Roundtables Record and report roundtable attendance
Unit Service Plan Facilitates building a Unit Service Plan
Journey to Excellence Guide and assess unit performance improvement
Youth Protection Training Monitor unit Youth Protection training status
Service to New Units Help identify and manage new units
Commissioner Training Identify trained commissioners
Commissioner Assignments Assign commissioners to units
Dashboards Unit scores and health indicators

The main point is that when you discuss the “why” of Commissioner Tools the discussion must begin with what commissioners do as defined by our doctrinal publications. If we don’t understand and appreciate how Commissioner Tools, Member Manager, Training Manager, JTE dashboards, and other such applications can provide access to data and information we can use to fulfill our role and help units, then it will be difficult to appreciate whether Commissioner Tools is providing added value. (Similar to the old saying that “if you don’t have a planned destination, how will you know when you have arrived,” or alternatively, “any destination will do.”) Commissioner Tools is capable of providing actionable information for very specific questions.

Commissioner Tools Enable Success

Since the initial pilot deployment of Commissioner Tools in August 2014, commissioner staffs have explored ways to use the tools to fulfill the purposes and goals of commissioner service. Helping to see that the objectives of Scouting are being carried out, assuring that each unit has strong, competent unit leadership, and ensuring growth in youth membership are just a few of the goals of commissioner service.

Here are some early indicators provided by Commissioner Tools to support the commissioner functions:

  • The percentage and list of units with/without an assigned commissioner
  • The percentage and list of commissioners entering/ not entering unit contacts
  • The percentage and list of units with/without an assessment
  • The percentage and list of units with/without a Unit Service Plan
  • The percentage and list of units attending/not attending roundtable

The information contained in Commissioner Tools— when employed by a knowledgeable commissioner— will improve the ultimate performance indicators:

  • Retention rate of traditional units
  • Number and performance rating of units using the Journey to Excellence program
  • Percentage of unit leaders with current Youth Protection training
  • Percentage of unit leaders with current positionspecific training
  • Percentage of traditional units completing charter renewal in a timely manner

While this discussion has centered on obtaining actionable information, being a commissioner is about establishing a meaningful relationship with unit leadership and providing exceptional commissioner service. We endeavor to exceed expectations rather than just barely satisfying expectations; provide caring service, not just competent service; and respond promptly to unit needs.

If you have questions about how to leverage the power of Commissioner Tools, view the training videos, visit the Commissioners website, contact your local Commissioner Tools champion, or send an email to CommissionerTools@scouting.org.


If we think about Commissioner Tools as suggested, we can continue to build its capabilities to be and do exactly what commissioners expect. This takes us back to the beginning where the team asked those first two important questions: tell us what you need the tool to do and what information you need to fulfill your role as a commissioner.