Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Commitment EDGE

For the last several months I've been providing training to the Scouters in my ward. I was banking on the fact that as the 11YO Scouter, I had no authority, but perhaps Wood Badge would give me some credibility.  I've been met with some success, but more and more I think I'm just "that Scouter guy" who insists on going by the book.  (Guilty.)

In re-evaluating my techniques, I've found that I have neglected a couple of things.  One is the steps of Team-building (forming, storming, norming, performing) and I think we've been stuck at stage 1.25 for several months.  I need to do a better job of creating a team atmosphere. The other is that I've just been presenting information, and it likely seems I'm just nagging, teaching "what we're doing wrong" lessons.  I think I figured out the solution.

Today in the shower, for whatever reason, I remembered something I used to study and practice every day:  the Commitment Pattern. These simple steps are taught to every "callow youth" at all of the MTCs around the world as THE way to teach the Gospel in a way that not only presents information, but helps guide an individual in making his own decision as to what course of action he will follow.  The steps are:
  1. Preparar 
    • Establecer Relaciones de Confianza 
    • Ayuadar a personas a sentir y reconocer al EspĂ­ritu 
    • Presentar el mensaje 
    • Averiguar 
  2. Invitar 
  3. Verificar 
  4. Resolver Dudas 
Well, that's how I learned it, anyway ;). Simply put, these steps mean building a trusting relationship in which you can have meaningful discussions/interactions which can then result in an invitation to act on the information, all the while helping the individual(s) overcome personal reservations. This is not a linear procedure to follow, but rather a loose set of techniques: any step, or any number of them, can be in play at any time.  The key element, 1.2, recognizing the Spirit's influence, cannot be overstated enough.

Think of it: a pair of young men enter a home, create an atmosphere conducive to intimate communication, discuss unusual, possibly controversial, ideas, and have the effrontery to ask a family to change their lives forever based on that (starting small, of course). Good thing those boys (if they're gringos) earned the Communications Merit Badge! Now, add the EDGE technique to the mix: steps 1.3, 1.4, and 2, Present the message and Find out, are where the EDGE method can come into play:  Explain, Demonstrate, Guide and Enable (that's a fancy way of saying Invite!).  Missionaries use this technique all the time, without even knowing there's an acronym for it.  Here's a Scouting/Misionero comparison:

ExplainMaking a fire is an important skill...There's another book of Scripture
DemonstrateHere are some ways to build and control a fire...Joseph Smith Story
GuideLet's build a fire togetherRead key passages together
EnableWe're camping, go cook your food."Will you read The Book of Mormon, in particular the passages We've indicated?"

There's a fine line between following the Commitment Pattern and outright manipulation. If you're following the steps but neglecting the Spirit, or pushing an agenda rather than teaching and finding out what the individual thinks, that's manipulation.  If you're sincerely presenting the information, recognizing the Spirit's influence and inviting the individual to act in accordance with that influence, AND THEN RESPECTING HIS DECISION, that's the Lord's way.

Throughout the process, we're resolving concerns: "why do you feel that _____?" "It seems you have reservations about ____," "What are the obstacles holding you back?" "What can you do to resolve this?" "How can I help you in this process?" Without addressing those, there's no way to get to that step of making a commitment.  We are to act and not be acted upon, but we have to be given good reasons for making the choices (2 Nephi 2).

Now, this may be more applicable to training adult leaders than working with boys, as boys tend to enthusiastically adopt new ideas, but it works in both arenas. IF Scouting embodies correct principles, then it would follow that the Spirit would help "drive home" the message of Scouting done right. This should result in an invitation to do something about it. The key to that invitation is the direct, "Will You?" question: "Will you help empower the Troop/young men by focusing on xyz principle?" or some such. The benefit here is that those we're trying to influence already know how to recognize the Spirit's influence.  Done right, with the Spirit's confirmation, could any LDS Scout leader honestly say no?

Try using the "Commitment EDGE Pattern" as you help your boys accept responsibility, or while teaching recalcitrant "the-way-we've-always-done-it" types some new (to them) tricks.

Prepared. | For Life.™

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