Last Sunday, Fred told his Scoutmaster, Brother Peterson, that he had chosen as an Eagle project the creation of a genealogy class. They decided to meet weekly after church to plan the project. Today is their first planning session.
The meeting began with prayer, and then Brother Peterson said, “If your project is to be successful, we have a lot of planning to do. Before you can begin any work on the project that the public will see, you have to submit an application to the Scout Council and get your idea approved. The Council is very concerned about the leadership aspect of your project. They want to know who would benefit from the project, where the class would be held, and how long it would be. In addition, they want to know who you will be enlisting to help you with the project and the number of man-hours you expect the project to take.”
Fred, looking perplexed, said, “Where do we begin?” The Scoutmaster replied, “Let’s begin with you. Tell me in one sentence what you would do for your project. Write that sentence in your notebook.” Fred thought for a moment and said, “Hold a genealogy class for the citizens of my town.” Brother Peterson asked, “This would be for people who don’t know anything about genealogy?” Fred replied, “Yes.” “Fine, said Brother Peterson, “Put the sentence in your notebook.”
Not once, but Repeated Brainstorming
“Now, Fred, let’s do some brainstorming. Think of four or five things or tasks you’ll have to do to accomplish that statement about your project.” Fred thought for a moment and said, “Get a place to meet, get teachers, invite people.” “Fine, Fred, write those in your notebook under your original statement.” After Fred finished writing, the Scoutmaster said, “People can’t come if they don’t know when the class will be”. Fred responded, “Choose a date.” “Right!”, the Scoutmaster said, “Now, let’s number the tasks in the order they would have to be done.” Fred numbered them to give the following order.
- Decide when the class will be held
- Get teachers
- Get a place to meet
- Invite people
The Scoutmaster continued, “Now, let’s go back and take each task by itself and list four or five things you’d have to do to accomplish that task. In what month do you want to hold the class, Fred?” “Probably in January, after I’m through football”, Fred replied. “Sounds good to me”, Brother Peterson said. “How about ‘Get teachers’. What would you have to do to get teachers. Be specific in your thinking.” “Well”, said Fred, “I’d have to decide how many teachers I’d need, what they would teach, and who they are.” “Good”, responded the Scoutmaster. “Write those in your book.”
“Now, Fred, how about a place to meet?” “Hmmm…”, thought the scout. “I’d need a place that is known to the public and convenient for them to come to.” “What else?”, asked the Scoutmaster. “Fred thought more and said, “I’d need permission to use the room, possibly money to pay for it.” “Anything else”, said Brother Peterson? “Suppose the building isn’t available when you want it?” “Oh”, said Fred, “I’ll have to check the schedule for the place.” The two stopped talking for a moment while Fred recorded the new ideas in his notebook.
When Fred stopped writing, Brother Peterson said, “What’s next, Fred?” Fred looked in his notebook and said, “Inviting people. Let’s see, I need to form a list of people who might be interested, and I need to send them invitations.” “How will you find them?”, the Scoutmaster asked. “I don’t know”, Fred replied, “but let me write down that I have to think of ways to identify the people.”
The Scoutmaster continued the brainstorming by asking, “What’s involved with conducting the class?” Fred was quiet for a moment and then said, “I guess I have to list the activities in the class, assign teachers to them, and decide when each will take place.” “Those are important things”, Brother Peterson replied, “but the people may get tired just standing around in an empty room…” “You mean I need to get chairs and tables?”, Fred asked. “I assumed those things would already be there.” “They might be there”, Brother Peterson said, “but you need to be sure you have enough for the number of people you expect to attend. Here’s another question, Fred. What resources will the teachers need to help them teach the sessions?” Fred replied, with a quizzical look on his face, “What do you mean by resources, Brother Peterson?” The Scoutmaster responded with, “Things like a chalkboard, an overhead projector, maybe a cork board.” “Ok”, Fred said, let me write all this down.”
Brother Peterson remembered two things that had been missed. To help Fred discover them, he said, “You’re planning a great genealogy class, Fred, but suppose all you do is plan?” Fred looked at him and said, “I don’t get what you’re asking.” The Scoutmaster replied, “In your list of tasks, you have everything but the actual conducting of the class.” “Oh”, Fred said, “Once I have it planned, I do it.” “Right”, said Brother Peterson. “Another thing, Fred. You’ll have a lot of people helping you. What do you need to do after the class is over?” Fred thought and then said, “Thank them.” “Yes, people appreciate a brief note of thanks”, said the Scouter.
Numbering Creates Order out of Chaos
Brother Peterson looked at his watch and said, “Fred, our hour is almost gone. Let’s go through all your notes and number the tasks in the order they need to be done. This will give you a new list of the tasks you need to do to complete your project. When we meet next week, we can review this list and make appropriate changes. Then we can tackle the task of estimating the number of people you’ll need to assist you.
Fred numbered all of the items in his book, and his list of tasks was the following.
- Decide when to hold the class
- Decide how many teachers will be needed
- Decide who they will be.
- Create an agenda for the class
- Assign teachers to particular parts of the class
- Locate a place for the class that is big enough and convenient for the people
- Get permission to use the building
- Schedule the building
- Arrange for enough chairs and tables
- Arrange for chalk boards, projectors (if needed), cork boards
- Raise money for rent (if needed)
- Form a list of interested people.
- Invite the people
- Conduct the class
- Write thank you letters to those who helped
Brother Peterson looked at the list and said, “Well, Fred, you’ve gone from one sentence to 15 tasks. That’s excellent!” “Cool”, said Fred.