The Polaris Method
Making the BSA more Effective, Efficient, and Empowered
The Polaris Method is a way of thinking and operating designed for efficiency, effectiveness, and empowerment. The Polaris Method is rooted in Lean Management and Change Management blended together with a Scouting twist for the BSA.
The ultimate goal is to positively transform the BSA’s corporate culture to one that pulls for success while achieving one of the four pillars in the Chief’s Game Plan, Streamline and Simplify.
Streamline & Simplify: Simplify aspects of Scouting that are not critical to delivering a high-quality consistent program. Empower our leaders and staff to employ tools, including the Polaris Method, to simplify delivery and execution while still maintaining the strong, positive outcomes of the program.
Aspirational State of Culture
- Trust is at an all-time high.
- We have a culture of responsibility and accountability.
- We honor our commitments.
- Alignment with BSA’s Mission, the Scout Oath and Law and executing the Game Plan.
- Definition of success includes relevance.
- Business is done through inclusion and collaboration.
- Once a decision is made everyone supports it.
- Vision is aspirational and is for the long term.
- The organization is flexible and responsive to current needs and priorities.
- Communications are thorough, continuous, authentic, transparent and everywhere.
Transactional vs. Transformational
The Polaris Method training will be delivered in modules and covers 2 types of outcomes: Transactional and Transformational.
Transactional modules empower employees to resolve issues they see. These modules will teach everyone to clearly make a proposal for impactful change in a way their staff leader will appreciate and approve. Successfully adopted, this has the capability to create greater efficiency, save money, reduce frustration, and have a greater ability to impact the movement.
Transformational modules increase employee effectiveness. These modules will teach everyone to operate in a new culture that’s result oriented while also being more supportive and supported. Successfully adopted, this has the capability to help staff communicate more clearly, overcome negative office banter, create a compelling future, and create a culture of integrity and accountability.
Modules & Descriptions
The modularized approach allows for customized training to ensure maximum return on investment of time for each team that is trained. A facilitator will work with the team’s staff leader to determine what’s needed for the team and deliver the relevant modules. Below you can see the available modules, which type of module each one is, and a brief description of the module and what it will produce.
When you are ready to request Polaris Method Training for your team, follow these steps:
- Email PolarisMethod@scouting.org your intention and desired timeframe for training.
- The Polaris Method Team will match your council or national department with a Primary Facilitator.
- Introductions will occur via email
- Polaris Method Service Agreement will be reviewed and signed by all parties
- The Primary Facilitator will coordinate a meeting with the Scout Executive or National Department Manager for the interview to establish desired outcomes.
- During the interview the Staff Leader and Primary Facilitator will:
- Go through predetermined and ad-hoc interview questions
- Determine the modules and order to be presented
- Set the agenda balancing content delivery and time available
- Schedule post-training check-in meetings for 30, 90, 180-day reviews
- Inform the Polaris Method Team number of training participants.
During the training the facilitators will work with the Scout Executive or National Department Manager to ensure the training is resonating with the staff. You are always welcome to reach out to the Primary Facilitator or Polaris Method Team for support at any time.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much will Polaris Method cost?
The training itself does not cost you anything directly. A generous donor has covered some costs like travel for facilitators and workbooks. However, we do ask you provide things like lunch, flip charts, markers, name tents/tags, etc.
Who needs to attend? Can I just bring my commissioned staff?
We want everyone the council pays present. Everyone from your front office manager to the Park Ranger. The Polaris Method works best when everyone has a shared transformational experience. Exempt employee working hours might need to be adjusted to accomplish this.
How long does the training take?
The training usually takes 2-3 days depending on the size of the council. Polaris Method is modularized and can be customized for your council’s needs. We ask for a minimum commitment of at least 1 full workday for training.
We are a small council; can we train with another council?
Yes, we can cluster smaller councils and train everyone together. With that said, please do reach out to have a dialogue, we can probably come to your council directly.
Can I bring my volunteers?
For the sake of governance, you are welcome to bring your Key 3. This training is specifically designed for employees of the Boy Scouts. For the process to be most effective, we encourage the first training to be only staff. After the completion of at least 1 Polaris Project, we can come back and do the same training for your volunteers.
I have heard about Polaris Projects; can I see them?
Every training will end with projects that are employee generated and management approved. These projects will be oriented at improving council operations or eliminating waste. See more information about the Polaris Projects and their approved charters in the section below.
Polaris Method Projects
Polaris Method Projects are continuous improvement projects meant create greater efficiency, save money, or reduce frustration. These projects start from the creation of a Problem Statement. A Problem Statement is recommended to have the following components: the underlying principle commitment, a gap analysis contrasting the current performance with the potential performance, and a reasonably quick deadline.
Once a Problem Statement is perfected, it is usually sent to the staff leader for a green light. Once permission to pursue the problem is granted, stakeholders and interested parties form a project team and create a Project Charter. The staff leader will review the Project Charter to ensure the team is going in the right direction and support the project team when requested. The project team will then use their expertise and the Polaris Method Toolkit to resolve the problem at hand within the scope provided by the deadline committed.
To see a list of the projects visit: Scouting.org/PolarisMethod/Projects
Why "The Polaris Method" Name?
Scouts and Scouters have long navigated by Polaris, “Pole Star,” also known as the “North Star.” When Scouts hike, they use the North Star to guide them in their journey. The aim of the Polaris Method to be the go-to methodology when a BSA employee or team wants to do something better. We ultimately aim for this to be the operating mindset of BSA at all levels, hence the name Polaris Method.
Meaning Behind the Logo
Stakeholder is the person(s) along the line, and sometimes at end of the line, the one who wants, needs, or uses our products and services as a member of the team that serves the customer: our youth members.
Value is determined from the points of view of the stakeholder and the customer; any activity that adds value is one that potentially transforms BSA service in a way that allows the stakeholder to benefit the customer.
Efficiency may be the single most important term in understanding the Polaris Method, since it involves eliminating waste or streamlining any activity or any part of the process that could detract from the stakeholder’s perceived value or appreciation of how they are being supported.
Empowerment is the end result of combining value and efficiency, in such a way that the stakeholder has increased capacity and capability to fully utilize our resources and take full advantage of them.