There are a couple of ways to manage the introduction of a major change to an established group.
Step 1: Spring the idea of change on them suddenly. And have only partial/patchy answers available for the foreseeable questions those affected will ask.
Step 2: Launch surveys on some aspects, at times of year when most of the group won’t be around to take part in the surveys. Close those surveys down quickly. Offer limited options, with no scope for further suggestions/text answers. Do not copy these surveys to parties with a relevant interest.
Step 3: Issue a standard response to all enquiries regardless of their content, advising that their comments will be noted.
Step 4: ?
Step 1: Advise all parties that the topic is due to be considered shortly, and invite views on the current set-up, and suggestions from all those involved on aspects they may wish to retain/those which could be improved upon.
Step 2: Feed back on the information thus received, and set up groups to investigate potential changes based on the suggested areas for improvement. Where relevant, hold discussion groups or issue questionnaires to all relevant parties, in order to collect a wide range of opinions and ensure all decisions are informed ones.
Step 3: Issue draft proposals, inviting detailed feedback on each aspect of them. Review same.
Step 4: Publish feedback results, and final evaluated proposal. Discuss launch procedure whilst providing detailed transitional arrangements.
Problems with Option 1: people feel railroaded, and as if they are being asked to nod through a done deal. All changes likely to be tarred with negativity regardless of whether some are actually positive ones which might in other circumstances have got a fair hearing. Key people feel excluded from the process, and alienated. Risk that important considerations from the grassroots which the team may not have been aware of or thought of will not emerge at a stage where they can be incorporated/resolved (e.g., logistics for Lones units, or specialist units for those with particular special needs). May produce a result which is not durable, and needs major alteration shortly after introduction.
Problems with Option 2: Timescales and finance. Getting people on board means investing time in genuine consultation, and in listening to views. Responses with text take longer to analyse than tick boxes. All this thoroughness takes time and money.
Positives with Option 1: Timescale. You get a decision quicker. And it’s the one management wanted, undiluted.
Positives with Option 2: Acceptance. By getting key people on board with the changes, adoption is smoother, and more likely to succeed long term. All relevant factors are considered in producing the outcome.
There are three types of job – cheap, quick and good. A good quick job isn’t cheap. A good cheap job isn’t quick. And a quick cheap job isn’t good.
Either of the first two is a reasonable investment for a reasonable result – it’s down to circumstances as to whether speed or cost is the more important factor. But the last of these? I fear that the last of these is exactly what Guiding is proposing with it’s Senior Section changes. And I’d love to be proved wrong . . .