New Resources to Help Support Commissioners’ Mission

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Scott Sorrels
National Commissioner Service Chair

In this issue and in coming months, you will see evidence of a lot of improvements in the support structure for the commissioner corps. Consistent with our promise to you to deliver a “simple and unified” platform to make your service as a commissioner easier and even more rewarding, we are releasing a number of new resources and refinements that impact how we focus our efforts. The commissioner mission of retaining our units remains the same. We still want to focus on Four Things that we know will drive unit retention: 1) Drive improvement in Journey to Excellence performance; 2) Contact units and record the data in Commissioner Tools; 3) Identify and link unit needs to the resources of the district and council; and 4) Renew that unit’s charter!

The launch of Commissioner Tools is a great day in the history of the commissioner corps. You will find ample coverage of the launch elsewhere in this issue and on the Commissioners website. I find particularly gratifying the collaborative efforts of volunteers, commissioned personnel, and technical professionals who worked so well together to design and deliver this support tool. You might say they captured the essence of the formula for success in how we can support unit volunteers. You can trace the origins of Commissioner Tools to some frustrations by a number of volunteers and professionals who recognized that our old methods for the support of unit contacts were not working as effectively as our units deserved. Led by National Commissioner Tico Perez, who was joined by a host of local and national volunteers and professionals from within and outside the Commissioner Service Task Force, we designed a solution from scratch, continually asking about the needs of unit commissioners and how we can make their role easier and more rewarding. It is amazing what we can accomplish together when we keep our eye on what really moves the needle of performance.

In the same vein, the 2015 Journey to Excellence standards for unit service have been revised and aligned to focus on moving the needle in areas that really matter. A new standard that measures retention of the unit has been added. If unit retention is our most fundamental measure of success, it seems only appropriate that driving increased unit retention and measuring that performance should be part of the JTE formula for success. Another JTE standard measures the number of unit contacts that we make with each unit. We have measured visits (now called contacts) before, but the new standard incorporates the concepts of making unit contacts, along with a detailed assessment that is designed to help the unit develop its Unit Service Plan. The elegance of this approach is that all of these elements are automatically incorporated in Commissioner Tools and require fewer steps and a lot less paperwork. Better yet, if we use the power of Commissioner Tools, we will automatically achieve each of the Four Things listed above that we know are the key to the success of local unit service.

The 2015 Journey to Excellence standards move away from the use of the 3-to-1 unit-to-commissioner ratio and toward our primary role of retention of units. While having a sufficient number of unit commissioners remains a priority, you will see less focus on the 3-to-1 ratio. The number of unit commissioners does not tell us how many units have actually been contacted. It also does not tell us how many units have a detailed assessment that has resulted in a Unit Service Plan and identification of needs to the district committee. The detailed assessment is built into the Commissioner Tools and is one of our strongest means of influencing a quality experience by the unit and youth and, in turn, unit retention. It all ties together in a simple and unified platform.

We welcome your ideas and feedback on these and many other tools, methods, and resources, and hope that you share our enthusiasm about commissioner service in 2015 and beyond.

Thanks for all you do for Scouting.