We have found the vision technique to be the most effective method to support the scouts in setting and executing objectives. The vision technique is the leader providing a clear vision for what is expected by whom when. In order to accomplish this, the adult or scout leader takes on the role of movie director working with the actors to get the scene acted out as expected.
Below is an example of how our SPL provides a vision and leads the Patrol Leaders the morning of Klondike. In this situation, the SPL acts as the movie director. Below would be the script to be acted out.
- To successfully plan or set the objective, in the evening before going to bed, the SM, SPL, Senior Patrol and Patrol Leaders would gather, review and agree upon the morning’s script, what needed to be done by when
- Prior to going to bed, the SPL lets his patrol leaders know they are to be at the campfire ring at 5:55am, ready to meet and discuss the plan for starting the day
Morning of Klondike:
- The SM (Scoutmaster) gets up @ 5:25am to make sure the SPL is awake and moving by 5:35am
- The SPL is woken up at 5:35am to have time to get ready and ensure the Patrol Leaders are awake and moving by 5:45am
- The senior patrol and patrol leaders are woken up at 5:45am
- The SPL, senior patrol and patrol leaders meet at 5:55am at the campfire ring to review the game plan for how the scout leadership is going to lead the patrols through the morning preparations and have the patrols be on time if not a few minutes early at the starting station. Like a quarterback in a huddle, or coach to his team, the SPL talks to the step by step execution for what has to occur over the next hour with emphasis on where the patrols should be at 15 minute time marks. The SPL looks eye to eye with all his scout leaders and asks is there any questions, do you see what we need to get done by when? If the answer is anything but yes, the SPL needs to be patient and talk through the steps so the scout leader gets the vision. (SM is present but as a silent observer to offer advice and recommendations). Below is an example of the steps the SPL would provide to his team.
- The patrols need to be woken up at 6am
- The patrols need to be eating breakfast by 6:15am
- The patrols need to be making lunch and packing their sleds by 6:30am
- The patrols need to be lined up and ready to depart the campsite by 6:45am
- The troop musters at 6:45 for words of wisdom and support
- The patrols depart camp at 6:50 to be at the judging stations at 7am
When the huddle breaks to go execute, the PLs start executing the plan. The Senior Patrol members shadow the PLs and look over the patrols to help support the scouts, helping them get up, find their boots and move the process along as a supporter following the lead of the PL, offering the PL support to work with scouts if they need help so the PL can focus on keeping his patrol on track. The SPL walks through the camp seeing how things are going and making recommendations to his PL and Senior Patrol member on what can be done to move things along. The SM is with the SPL, shadowing the SPL and using the mentoring process to provide recommendations for what could be done to execute on schedule.
To execute the morning's vision, the SPL would then have his leadership team (senior patrol members and patrol leaders) huddle up at 10-15 minute intervals, about 5 minutes prior to the next big task or event to be executed. Following the script above the huddles would occur at 6:10, 6:25 and 6:40. The huddles would last no longer than 3-5 minutes with the purpose to provide status, organize support/help to those that need it and clarify the vision for the upcoming 15 minutes.
In these huddles, the SPL would have his leaders go around the circle and give a quick status check; "Is your patrol on schedule?" The SPL would provide guidance to the PLs for that they can do to execute more efficiently and assign his Senior Patrol members specific tasks for helping certain scouts or patrols who are falling behind schedule. This includes Adults meaning, the SPL should be able to ask the SM if a few adults could go over and help out a patrol or scout who is really in need of help. After 1-2 minutes of status reporting, the SPL restates the vision for the next 15 minutes and what is to be accomplished by when. The SPL then looks at each Patrol Leader in the eye and asks is there any questions, do you see what we need to get done by when? If the answer is anything but yes, the SPL needs to be patient and talk through the steps so the scout leader gets the vision. (SM is present but as a silent observer to offer advice and recommendations).
While executing, the SPL and Senior Patrol would be constantly walking from patrol to patrol offering support and assistance to those who needed it. We learned that although the scouts were on time, we would behave as if they were a few minutes behind schedule. By working in this manner, we found that we could execute and make our objectives a majority of the time. During this time, the SM and SPL would be meeting a few times to view the big picture and the SPL would direct his senior patrol to those who may need some extra help or ran into a snag.
As you can see by the example above, we took the 1 hour morning Klondike preparation and broke it down into 15 minute chunks of time. Each 15 minutes had a simple clear objective to be executed by the patrols. The sum of these 15 minute chunks was the steps needed for the patrol to be ready for Klondike.
Following this example, the same concept is used for the scouts to manage or lead the days activities. We found this technique works best if you break the day into segments like morning, lunch, dinner and evening. The SPL is calling frequent huddles throughout the day constantly reinforcing and providing clear vision for each major milestone or event just prior to executing, keeping everyone focused. Expanding upon this, we also use this for the troop as a whole by having the SPL muster the troop and announce what the game plan is to the troop.
NOTE - For the SM and adult leaders, it is their responsibility to ensure that there are activities and an overall game plan for the outing or event. This process and structure is dependent upon having a clear goal and objective to accomplish. Mentoring the scouts in defining these goals and objectives is part of planning the outing.