Walking in the Moccasins of Others

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When I was a young assistant dean of students at a university, one of my favorite targets for criticism was the director of athletics.   He was my parents' age and spent the bulk of his time filling the soda machine in his building.   Meanwhile, I had to deal with all types of noise from athletes, coaches and other chaos I felt that he had created.  

For retribution, when I became the dean of students, the director of athletics reported to me.   But there's more to this story.   Not long after I was appointed the dean of students, the athletics director had a heart attack.   It wasn't clear for at least six weeks whether he would be able to return to work or not, and I wound up being the acting director of athletics during basketball play-offs.   I stayed in that position for eight months, doing my job and his job.   I had to walk in his moccasins, and at a point, I came to understand why he filled the soda machine.   At least when he did that, he could see that he had accomplished something that day.

Scroll ahead 30 years, I'm the CEO of a Girl Scout council, not something I would have anticipated then.   I spend hours listening to others complain, and I'm always stunned when someone thinks that being insulting will help make her point.   My grandmother always said, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar."   And she was definitely right.

We have made a huge change to the cookie program this year and received lots of feedback.   First, volunteers don't really like the earlier date to have part of the cookie funds in.   We hear you on that, and next year, that will change.   We take advice from other councils on best practices for a change of this magnitude, and that is how those dates were established.   We will adapt pieces and parts of the program predicated on your feedback, so we are asking for this feedback as we go along.  

The second most feedback has been on the ACH sweep of your troop bank account.   This was done to make it easier for you.   It is optional.  In fact, I wrote an entire blog on it being optional.   Last time I checked, we had one troop signed up for this, and the noise on this given those participating doesn't mesh.   If you aren't doing it, I'm not sure why you are upset about it?

Finally, most of the feedback has been positive.   Those who actually took the risk, ordered cookies and got them out to their parents have said they didn't order enough cookies and have come back for more.   Many have said this is simpler, that it cuts a step out of the process.   And troops are surprised how easy Girl Scout cookies are to sell when you have them in hand.   We are grateful for this feedback.   Making this process easier certainly was our goal.

At the council, we recognize you do all the heavy lifting on the cookie program.   And we try to support you by being out on cookie trucks, at the warehouse, chasing cookie trucks and refilling the pantries and cupboards to make this a success for the girls.  

Please don't assume that during the cookie program we are sitting in the office eating cookies.   On this three-day weekend, the entire product sales team has been on the phone and e-mail all weekend long.   We might not be in the office, but we have been responding to questions, concerns and issues.   Most of us had multiple 12-hour days last week, the first week of the sale.   That remains the case throughout each sale.  We are working to assure the cookie inventories are in the warehouse and available to meet your needs.   We are listening. We are working hard to walk in your moccasins to make this easier for you and most important, a learning experience for the girls.   Thanks for all you do.

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