Technology IS Change

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

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Rick Hillenbrand
Commissioner Technology Chair
rick_hillenbrand@alum.mit.edu

Technology IS Change

I checked: The thesaurus does not list “technology” as a synonym for “change,” but it could.

My first introduction to a “true” computer was as a high school senior in 1974. The computer used Fortran II and it occupied a small room. At the time, I thought I would never see a computer again. How quickly that changed when, less than six months later, my core curricula as a college freshman included a class on computers.

Decades after my introduction to computers, barely a day goes by when I don’t use my laptop, smart phone, and tablet. And nearly as often, my technology is updating itself — often without my even being aware of it. There are ways to resist change, but realistically how do you not eventually yield to the change? (For those who know me: Yes, I am still using my Blackberry Q10 phone.) In my opinion, at some point you either adapt or get left behind. Can you imagine how different your life would be if you didn’t adapt to technological change? In 1995, Star Trek: Voyager featured an Emergency Medical Hologram Mark I (or EMH for short) — a virtual doctor. It took less than 20 years to go from sci-fi to the world’s first holographic doctor launched in Australia in 2017.

As commissioners, we can better serve the Scouts and Scouters in our units if we exhibit the good grace and flexibility to embrace change. Which leads me back to technology. The dedicated professionals and volunteers who work with BSA’s technology are working as fast as they can to implement as many advances as possible. It can be hard as a user to see how the changes in technology might be an enhancement, but generally the changes in technology are an improvement. Consequentially, technological change sometimes seems to be constant.

So how can we make the adoption of change easier? We can become a “change agent”: a person who acts as a catalyst for change. When I joined the National Commissioner Service team in 2014, my self-appointed mission was to move the commissioner corps from the Unit Visit Tracking system to a better technological tool — which we now know as Commissioner Tools. Seven years later, it is time for me to be a part of the change as I pass the role as the National Commissioner Service team technology chair over to Mike Weber. It has been my privilege to work with some of the very best volunteers and professionals while serving the commissioner corps these past seven years. Mike and I have been working on this transition for several months, and I can confidently state that he is ready. I wish him, the entire technology team, and those they serve the best future success.

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Keeping Up With BSA’s Technology Changes

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

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Rick Hillenbrand
Technology Chair rick_hillenbrand@alum.mit.edu

Keeping Up With BSA’s Technology Changes

If you feel that it’s impossible to keep up with all the technology changes BSA is constantly making, you are not alone. In addition to the constant improvements, computer applications also inadvertently provide a never-ending supply of new bugs. Sometimes, just as one gets fixed, something else happens that creates a new bug with the exact same behavior. Years ago, I was told by a BSA IT professional — whom I regarded as the most knowledgeable person on BSA’s software — that due to the constant changes, even she felt she knew only about 80% of the information. This might provide the rest of us neophytes some solace.

So, what is a conscientious commissioner to do if they want to keep up with BSA’s technology, knowing that they may never become more than 80% knowledgeable? I have two recommendations: 1) practice makes perfect and 2) stay informed. The more you use BSA’s technology, the more proficient you will become. You might even be among the first to detect and report the occurrence of a new bug! The two best ways for commissioners to stay informed about BSA’s technology are to read the periodic Commissioner Technology Focus Group (CTFG) Status Report and to regularly visit the Scouting Forums.


All council commissioners and known Commissioner Tools champions are sent the CTFG Status Reports when issued, and hopefully the report is then shared widely with the commissioners they serve. However, if you are not receiving the CTFG Status Reports, you can find the most recent issues posted online at https://www.scouting.org/commissioners/tools/ under the heading “Updates to Technology of Interest to Commissioners.” The latest report includes a list of some BSA technology changes planned for the immediate future.

The Scouting Forums can be found at https://discussions.scouting.org/. In addition to program-specific groups such as Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA, etc., there is a section for BSA Announcements and technology-focused groups for My Scouting tools and Scoutbook. Additionally, the group BSA Commissioners is dedicated for discussing unit service. All commissioners are welcome to join this group.

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