I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy!Tash

Refer to older posts…

Blogging services

HCI chat


Making changes…

Cuboree 2010Last week, I found out that cuboree (a big camping event for cubs in Victoria that I went on last year) has been moved. Instead of being in April 2011, it will be in September 2010 is the latest news in scouting. The previous five cuborees have been three years apart and in the March/April school holidays, so the date has surprised many people.

Not only has the change surprised people, but it has also annoyed and angered many leaders as well. The change from March to September was made for logistical reasons – it is easier to prepare such a large event later in the year for a voluntary group that effectively shuts down over summer.

However, the event could have been moved forwards to September 2011 or backwards to September 2010.

Moving forwards had the disadvantage of meaning some children would miss a cuboree on age rules – easily fixed by adding 6 months to the maximum age for that one cuboree.

Moving backwards has a number of disadvantages – it is sooner and in the same year as jamboree so leaders will potentially have trouble getting time off work and away from families, not to mention risking being exhausted and reluctant to help at future events, being the same year as jamboree makes it difficult for leaders and cubs to afford cuboree, being the same year as jamboree is a strain on groups preparing and possibly funding children going on these camps.

Many leaders are unhappy with the new date and are following this up so the dates may  yet change.

Making changes in business

Aside from my personal interest in the timing of cuboree, there is a business perspective to this story!

Making smooth changes

Changing from plan A to plan B

Sometimes, it is necessary to make a change in business, even to long established practices. And those changes may just have to be implemented without much notice or consultation. However, the change is likely to be much smoother if you notify people as soon as possible and explain the reasons for the change if they are likely to be inconvenienced or annoyed by it.

So tell leaders that cuboree is moving to September because time is needed to organise it in the lead up. Simple.

If a change affects many people, especially if you have staff or key stakeholders, the ideal is to involve them in the change process. Ask their opinions, get their suggestions and listen to their objections. You may still do what you had planned but

  • they will feel better and more in control if they were involved, which means they are more likely to support the change
  • you will know what objections and challenges may arise and therefore prepare for them in advance
  • you may be able to adjust the plan a little to reduce concerns and problems
  • you will have more confidence that your business will survive and thrive with the change

Humans generally struggle with change, but a consultative process is easier to deal with.

How have you managed any major changes in your business? Or have you been an employee in a business undergoing big changes – what worked or didn’t work?

Be prepared

Back in April, I wrote about cuboree – a camp for Victorian cubs and leaders. I wrote that I expected to be able to use cuboree as examples in business behaviour and strength.

As I mentioned, cuboree was affected by strong winds that have since been called a cyclone. The entire campsite of about 4,500 people (mostly 8 – 10 year olds) was locked down for an entire afternoon.

It was certainly an experience to remember and thankfully there were no major injuries, but it wasn’t something anyone had expected or hoped for!

There were various things put in place over the storm period that kept us all safe. For instance, leaders were told a storm was coming the previous night so we could prepare our campsites and warn the cubs in the morning that there would be strong winds. Programs were adjusted to suit the conditions and regular updates were provided to pack leaders. The fact that there were high wind rated marquees available, as well as permanent buildings,  shows how the organisers had planned for problems. The cuboree website was already in place so it was simple for the camp to keep parents and others ‘at home’ informed about the cubs, rather than having 3,000 parents ringing or visiting the campsite.

In business, being prepared for possible problems is called contingency planning and is very important. Planning doesn’t mean you think the problem will arise, but makes it easier to deal with the problem if it did arise. It’s like having some paracetamol in the cupboard – you may never get a headache but if you do, you want the medicine quickly.

Contingency planing depends on the size and potential impact of the problem. For instance, running out of ink for the printer is probably covered by having a spare cartridge in the cupboard and ordering a new spare once it is used. However, the plan for how to cope if your business premises are burnt in a fire will be a lot more complex and detailed.

Some contingency planning is simple and practical – having spare ink for printers, spare light bulbs and a first aid kit – while others are much better if written out and added to the procedures.

How much contingency have you planned for in your business? Have you done this formally or just built up a supply of spare materials for instance?

I would love to hear some examples of how contingency planning has saved your business in some way, too.

Do your best

In an earlier post, I wrote about cuboree – a camp for Victorian cubs and leaders and the wind storm that hit the camp.

When they joins cubs, each child makes a promise which starts “On my honour, I promise to do my best” – and doing their best is one of the key principles we use to encourage and develop the cubs. Every week, the cubs also reaffirm their promise to do their best.

The cyclone that hit during cuboree gave the cubs (and their leaders!) a challenging afternoon as they were kept indoors under cramped conditions.

Leaders did their best to keep the cubs occupied – in the marquee I was in we found pencils and paper, folded paper planes, sang songs, told jokes and played a DVD as part of keeping everyone busy and happy. Leaders also did their best to keep fear away form the cubs by managing the risks for them and protecting them as much as possible – a number of times I saw leaders leaning over cubs to protect them from falling debris, and leaders escorted children who needed toilets rather than letting them face danger alone.

Camp cooks did their best to provide nutritious and interesting snacks and meals, despite lack of power and/or gas to cook with.

The police did their best to keep us safe and arrange for the most dangerous trees/branches ot be dealt with.

Camp organisers did their best to keep us and families informed, everyone safe and accounted for, and to get some people home early as required.

But above all, we all were so proud to see the cubs do their best in trying circumstances.

Yes, cubs did ask “will we be in here much longer? when can we go outside? where will we sleep tonight?” and similar questions, but I did not hear one complaint from them. The cubs devised their own games and activities, moved around and spoke to cubs from other packs and places (they found it a great opportunity for badge swapping!) and did whatever was asked of them. They even queued for toilets trips without making a fuss. Sitting on the ground eating salad rolls for dinner didnt even raise a complaint.

The cub’s behaviour made difficult circumstances bearable and we were all proud of them. It was also inspirational to see them behave so well – it made it easier for us to do our best, too.

Next time you feel like doing ‘good enough’ in your business, take a moment to think about those cubs and ask yourself if you are dong your best in the circumstances or not – and what you will do about it if the answer is no.

Back from cuboree!

At the end of March, I wrote about joining 4,500 scouting people at the 5th Victorian Cuboree. I’ve been back home for a bit over a week now and am still exhausted from it, but figured it was time to report back!

The camp was a lot of fun – we were busy with activities all day and entertainment at night, lots of fun and walking around in the bush (well, the bush with lots of people and tents anyway!) We arrived on the Monday and came home (late) on the Friday.

We had some extra excitement with massive storms on the Wednesday – the worst to hit Victoria I heard, with winds hitting 130kms an hour! We were in the area of Victoria worst hit so we certainly were aware of the storm, lol. We spent nearly 8 hours in a strong marquee (rated to 90 km winds) with over 700 cubs and leaders, plus support staff – the kids coped with it really well which made the experience manageable. As leaders, we were really proud of how the cubs behaved well and accepted the limitations forced upon us – they lived up to their honour and promise of doing their best. In our pack, we had one tent damaged beyond use and two tents we considered at risk from a branch so we sent 12 of our cubs (plus some leaders) to sleep in the marquee although the rest of use slept in our usual campsite.

The entertainment consisted of a group of four wanderers looking for the 2010 Australian Jamboree – finding the 1908 jamboree, Rio’s carnivale and cuboree instead! Many of the cuboree cubs are now looking forward to attending jamboree.

I enjoyed being with the cubs – most of whom I didn’t know beforehand, plus three from my home pack – and we had a great bunch of leaders in our pack, too. Will I go again? I’d definitely consider it! Seriously, if the circumstances were right for me personally, then yes I would go again – but would ensure I had some extra time off to recover afterwards!

Would I send my own kids to the next cuboree (age limits allowing of course!), most definitely – I think it is a great experience for them.

Have you ever been to something like cuboree? Is it something you look back on fondly?

And I even learned a few things that may just come in handy as a writer and business owner 🙂 Watch for upcoming blog posts!

Cuboree 2008

As of tomorrow, I will be away with approximately 3,000 cubs and 1,300 leaders at the Victorian Cuboree. A cuboree is effectively a mass camp for cubs (8 to 10 year olds) every 3 years.

I am looking forward to it – I remember how much fun I had as a kid going on a Venture (equivalent to a cuboree but for 14 – 18 year olds) so now I can give others that enjoyment whilst also seeing how much fun it is on the other side!

For those who are curious, leaders don’t get paid – we are there as volunteers and I’m sure our exhaustion levels when we get home will prove they get their money’s worth from us!

I have programmed ahead for some blog posts, but please be patient for replies to comments or emails as none of the gum trees have power or internet connections so I will be completely offline for the duration!