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Thread: Size and shape of district/county/region teams

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    Senior Member Matt Donnelly's Avatar
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    Size and shape of district/county/region teams

    Prompted by some comments on other threads, I was wondering about people's views on the size and shape of district, county and region teams.

    There have been varying ideas for size - a small team minimising the volunteer drain elsewhere in the organisation, through to a large team to share the load of supporting those progressively closer to the running of sections. And many other approaches and rationales.

    There have been varying ideas on shape - traditional commissioner plus sectional assistant commissioners only, through to things like having multiple deputy commissioners and with roles focused on 'themes' like inclusion or community engagement, etc. Again, many approaches exist.

    I have my own views on what a fully-staffed team at district and county (not so much at region) might look like but won't put up any specifics (well not yet anyway).

    My main principles are: there are some core functions (like appointments and training) that really have to be done and really should be done well; other things which ideally should be well in-hand to enable volunteers to get on with their volunteering as they need (permit training/assessment/approval for instance); and many more things that fall into the 'nice to have' category. Also everyone in such a team must be doing something demonstrably useful that makes a difference to providing Scouting to young people, whether that is obvious to everyone or not.

    Any other criteria spring to mind? Pet hates or good practice? Philosophical views and practical examples all welcome :-)

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    I think that it is important to have people in these positions who have the time (and the ability) to do the job. I think there is sometimes a tendency in Scouting to say "we need someone to do this role but it won't take up much of your time".

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    Mmm...

    I think it depends what groups want from their district. The other wrinkle is, if you don't have any district provision (or only the very minimum, so training and some admin), then its hard to see the need for a district team at all.

    I suppose that begs the question, what value would having a full district team bring to groups if they're already doing quite well by themselves... Then, I suppose, the next gnarly thing is, if having a district provision is just to satisfy POR - but there's no detectable problem without a district team... Does that not calls POR/the current structure itself into question?

    So I'm not actually sure.

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    When our DC was appointed he went down the line of trying to get a team for each Section but it didn't seem to work maybe partly as people didn't seem to grasp what joining such a team would entail and what role they would have. He is now appointing ADCs and recently appointed a DDC Activities who will be able to deputised for the DC for things like NANs when needed as well as arranging District wide activities such as All Section District camps.

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    I think that having sectional ADCs is very important as it means that there is someone in the District to support the section. If everything is running perfectly there is probably no need but in my experience things do not always run as well as that and having someone to care about that and try to improve it is very helpful.

    I think that clear cut roles are important. I like shiftypete'e point that "people didn't seem to grasp what joining such a team would entail and what role they would have." When I took on an ADC role the DC was very clear as to what he expected me to actually do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveF View Post
    I think that it is important to have people in these positions who have the time (and the ability) to do the job. I think there is sometimes a tendency in Scouting to say "we need someone to do this role but it won't take up much of your time".
    I've certainly seen many a person take on a district/county role as an additional role, then have to juggle it, sometimes unsuccessfully.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Mmm...

    I think it depends what groups want from their district. The other wrinkle is, if you don't have any district provision (or only the very minimum, so training and some admin), then its hard to see the need for a district team at all.

    I suppose that begs the question, what value would having a full district team bring to groups if they're already doing quite well by themselves... Then, I suppose, the next gnarly thing is, if having a district provision is just to satisfy POR - but there's no detectable problem without a district team... Does that not calls POR/the current structure itself into question?

    So I'm not actually sure.
    Interesting point. The focus is often on the 'Scouty' appointments at district/county and less on the admin/oversight (e.g. supporting group execs). The critical bare bones functions aren't always the priority in filling district roles. Perhaps they should be instead of ADC/ACC roles?

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    Quote Originally Posted by shiftypete View Post
    When our DC was appointed he went down the line of trying to get a team for each Section but it didn't seem to work maybe partly as people didn't seem to grasp what joining such a team would entail and what role they would have. He is now appointing ADCs and recently appointed a DDC Activities who will be able to deputised for the DC for things like NANs when needed as well as arranging District wide activities such as All Section District camps.
    I've often wondered re: ADCs who primarily organise events, whether having a small team of District Section Leaders might be better?

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveF View Post
    I think that having sectional ADCs is very important as it means that there is someone in the District to support the section. If everything is running perfectly there is probably no need but in my experience things do not always run as well as that and having someone to care about that and try to improve it is very helpful.

    I think that clear cut roles are important. I like shiftypete'e point that "people didn't seem to grasp what joining such a team would entail and what role they would have." When I took on an ADC role the DC was very clear as to what he expected me to actually do.
    How many ADCs support sections with their difficulties rather than just organiae district section events? I have no idea on the stats. Worth a national 3-5 question survey of ADCs?

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    There seems to be a change in the role of District Leaders. My previous understanding of the role was that ADCs were intended to provide support for a section and District Leaders were there to organise District activities.

    Strictly speaking therefore an ADC(Scouts) would say to to the DSLs "I am being asked about a cooking competition, could you organise one please." The ADC could then get on with supporting Leaders.
    rather than running events.

    The training requirements for "District Scouters" as they now seem to be called, are the new Managers and Supporters modules so they now seem to be seen as supporters rather than Leaders.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveF View Post
    The training requirements for "District Scouters" as they now seem to be called, are the new Managers and Supporters modules so they now seem to be seen as supporters rather than Leaders.
    I think this is a bad mistake and will simply result in people not taking on these roles formally due to the onerous training requirement (as someone currently undertaking the new manager and supporters training) but instead doing them on a more informal basis in addition to other roles, which will lead to a lack of transparency and not aid people in communicating with the correct person.

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    I don't think it really matters all that much what the titles and roles are, so long as they are clear what they are responsible for. There should be a role description and person specification for these, which are published and available - and against which they are reviewed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveF View Post
    I think that having sectional ADCs is very important as it means that there is someone in the District to support the section. If everything is running perfectly there is probably no need but in my experience things do not always run as well as that and having someone to care about that and try to improve it is very helpful.
    Our DC has pretty much dropped these roles, as they only seemed to be organising district level events...

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    Quote Originally Posted by nevynxxx View Post
    Our DC has pretty much dropped these roles, as they only seemed to be organising district level events...
    Yup.

    Ours too. However, I think it was a two-fold effort - it seemed to be the direction of travel (away from sectional ADC's to geographic ADC's) and because we couldn't fill the roles at all. Saying that, we always had pretty decent sectional ADC's for Beaver and Cubs sections, Scouts (I don't think) really needed the support - although that may now be different... I say that because historically, in our district - leaders in the Scout section tended to be a lot longer in the organisation than leaders in Beavers or Cubs - with the odd notable exception of course...

    Another thing is, or are, district leaders. I've never heard of these before. Being honest, if you can't get sectional leaders in the door, what hope is there for district leaders? And I suppose, the reason we couldn't get any sectional ADC's any more is because we no longer had the through-put of sectional leaders - and it was from there, those positions were filled.

    (I think more over, we lost critical mass at district level and are finding it hard to build any momentum back up.)

    I think perhaps a best practice model should be in place, but POR/TSA should also be content with a much reduced model for district provision. Given how difficult it can be to get people on board, I think the structure needs to accommodate that.

    A question I'd put on any poll is, the people that hold district or county positions - how much of their time is spent satisfying bureaucracy and creating and issuing all the emails and newsletters we get? I can't help but feel the structure as intended is still very top heavy, or at least - there are too many people up there doing, well - I'm not sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Another thing is, or are, district leaders. I've never heard of these before.
    They're section leaders that have fallen out with their group, or leaders in their group, but still want to help in that section.

    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    A question I'd put on any poll is, the people that hold district or county positions - how much of their time is spent satisfying bureaucracy and creating and issuing all the emails and newsletters we get? I can't help but feel the structure as intended is still very top heavy, or at least - there are too many people up there doing, well - I'm not sure.
    Well I'm a DESC, so I'm district, but DESC is a bit of a funny combo of GSL/ADC so maybe not representative, plus I'm an ESL, so it's hard to weed out what bit of time is "satisfying bureaucracy", 2 hours a week maybe?
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