As you read in my post Scouting Volunteer — Headed to Kuala Lumpur, the World JOTA-JOTI team recently met at the World Scout Support Centre in Kuala Lumpur. There we wrapped up the 2017 World JOTA-JOTI Report and met with a group of Scouting staff and volunteers focused on improving JOTA-JOTI for the next several years.
You can find our 2017 report by clicking on the report cover image nearby. It was a good year with right at 1.6 million participants. We also received quite a few country reports that highlighted the many Scouting activities underway that weekend around the world.
That report and many other team tasks took most of the day on Friday. Then on Saturday and Sunday we spent time in a workshop with a range of people, a few with some experience of JOTA-JOTI and many without any experience at all.
The activity was facilitated by the team’s liaison with the World Scout Committee, Peter Blatch, and by director of world events for the World Organization of the Scout Movement, Stephen Peck.
This effort is really driven by the team’s goal to achieve 3 million participants by 2021 along with a growing recognition that JOTA-JOTI, as the largest Scouting event in the world, justifies additional investment in order to maximize its impact.
Feedback — It’s a Gift
With many workshop participants learning about JOTA-JOTI for the first time during the weekend, they had lots to say. One of my favorites was why we were using amateur radio when the Internet offered so many advantages. That is good insight focused on the goal of fostering Scout-to-Scout conversations. But it misses the magic of using a radio and wire antenna to talk across the country and around the world.
Even so, it represented exactly what we were seeking — insight from fresh eyes coming from a far different perspective.
It also reminded me of my days working for Harry Carson at Heathkit. I touched on this a bit with a recent blog post titled My Favorite Bosses and How They Tapped My Strengths. When he first observed my defensive response to what I felt was criticism, he told me to remember the phrase “horse races.” As with nearly everything he said to me, at least the first time around, I thought “What?” He responded to my puzzled look by saying that the reason they had horse races was that everyone felt a different horse would win.
He summarized it later for me with these words:
As you progress through your career use the “horse race” philosophy as a tool. People do think differently. Therefore, you can expect an occasional challenge to a position. Take an open posture relative to the challenge and avoid the defensive posture. The open path can lead to progress. The defensive position becomes an issue of proving a position or forcing acceptance of a position. Discussions originating from a challenged position have the potential of leading to an alternate position that surpasses the original two.
During the course of our meeting, Richard Middelkoop, our long serving team leader, was complimented several times about how open and accepting the team was to the wide range of feedback that was generated. Perhaps our entire team understands the “horse races” philosophy.
I also observed during our workshop two incredible examples of servant leadership demonstrated by our facilitators: Peter Blatch and Stephen Peck. Both were absolutely masterful in their group facilitation and leadership roles. They guided the team throughout two full days, never flagging, and always focused on the target of providing guidance for the future of the event.
But even more, after the meetings at the dinners and gatherings they demonstrated still further their servant leadership. At our final meeting, Stephen set up an outdoor bar-be-que, with the assistance of his wife Lynne, and doing quite a bit of the cooking himself. Plus, Peter jumped in to round out the cooking activities.
One further example of their leadership was at the end of our meeting, the full first draft report was ready for our review. Not a single moment of time was spent cruising or relaxing. They just flat got to work with massive support to this workshop.
With that type of leadership, I’m eager to see the next steps on the JOTA-JOTI journey to three million participants.
Personal Experience — Seeking Quiet, Offering Insight
You may have read another of my blog posts titled Living in a Noisy World — Listening for the Prairie’s Whispers. In that post I discuss my own background on the prairie and my introverted approach to life. Another post is The Power of Introverts where I highlight these key points about introverts:
- They’re better listeners – they take things in and can make unexpected connections because they are processing the input.
- They are better at channeling talent – they listen, help employees shine, and stay out of the way.
- They don’t need external affirmation – they are comfortable with independent thought and action, allowing them to stay focused.
The first one came out in this meeting when we were talking about our JOTA-JOTI logo contest and the length of time it takes. After listening to the discussion and processing it, I offered that we were only discussing the back end of the process trying to find more time. Instead, we should look at the beginning of the process and make some breakthroughs there. That insight helped us make that needed improvement.
That last bullet point is no doubt one of the big reasons I’ve enjoyed working as a freelance writer. it’s also why I can work diligently on the JOTA-JOTI team tasks in complete insolation from the team. I actually prefer it that way.
I will also note that I witnessed one further introvert insight during our meeting. Near the end of our full three days of work we were offered a 20 minute break. I found that nearly 90% of the group gathered in the middle of the room to discuss any number of things. On the other hand, I was seeking somewhere I could find peace and quiet. All of us were seeking ways to recharge our batteries — ways that best fit our own needs and personalities.
Exciting Breakthroughs for JOTA-JOTI
As you can tell, our workshop in Kuala Lumpur was a big success. You can find Richard Middelkoop’s early comments about our workshop at JOTA-JOTI on to the next level.
Here’s a photo of the full team at the workshop. Hats off to everyone for their hard work during the weekend focused on making JOTA-JOTI an even better event in the future.