By Dave Olpin
Jun 11, 2013

The carrot or the stick?

There are basically two means of motivating a group to accomplish a purpose-

–the carrot, or the stick.

Having served in the military for several years, I understand readily the difference. Under fierce combat conditions often the only discipline that will drive a man to do his duty in the face of death is the stick. The stick is anoutward manifestation. It is often forced upon the individual.

The carrot, by contrast, is an inner selfmotivatingand deep conviction, one that can be a strong driving force in anyone’s life.Through the carrot, kindliness, love and concern toward the recipient are the primary active forces.

The carrot is one of a lasting quality, and in the end will provide the result of greater satisfaction.

As explanation of this principle, two years ago I was assigned the responsibility of a high council member and Scout leader over my stake Scouting program for seven wards. This is essentially an advisory position. My first task was to surround myself with good leaders who could make a program move.

Initially, as I attended a stake court of honor for our young men, I had a serious concern for their welfare, and the manner in which their program might see meaningful advancement.

As the closing prayer of that meeting was being given, I seemed to have a burst of vision as to how I might change the program so that it would become more meaningful to the boys.

I sensed that there were two things I must do to bring about a successful program. First, I must have a vision of what we need to accomplish, and that vision must be a share vision.

Second, the leaders of the wards must be aware of how they can accomplish that vision. This implies their knowing what they were to do, and a system of incentives, which, if they are real enough, will cause self motivation of both the leaders and the boys. There must also be an element of competition. Boys truly love friendly competition.

Over the next two years I developed training and shared with our leaders a basic incentive system that would move our people toward their goals, and have them share the vision and realization fo objectives and goals within realistic goal dates.

At the conclusion of the second year I received the following letter which says more than I ever could:

“I am the Scout Committee Chariman for the Provo 4th ward. As we come to the end of this round of Stake courts of honor Brother Bronson (our scoutmaster) and I have ondered on the effectiveness of the point system and rewards. We have greatly enjoyed and benefitted from this sytem in our ward’s scouting program, and I just wantd to commend you for this very effective system. It has added another element of fun. Friendly competition is a great way to motivate these boys to earn badges and work hard, and us as leaders to get organized and help the boys. The point system is a great way for you as stake leaders to tell us what it is you wanted us to focus on in our organizations. f”rom the way the points were set up this time around it was obvious that many points could be gained from leadership and having leaders active, attending round-table, being trained, etc. Becuase of your emphasis on this our ward did a lot to progress in this direction,a nd it has benefitted the Scout program, and more importantly the boys in the program. Having more enthusiastic, trained, informed leaders has been a great benefit to our boys. As this last court of honor passes next Tuesday we will be anxiously aaiting the next round,a nd the next area you would like us to focus on in our programs. Again I thank you for your dedication to the young men in our stake and for your guidance as wise leaders.”

(This particular ward won the year-long competition). Their prize was a jet flight to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with a steak dinner there. Second and third place groups all received day-complimentary tickets to an indoor amusement place.

This last year our boys won more awards and advancements than we have ever experienced before, and it is now all beginning to bear fruit in the form of a number of potential eagles who are currently in our program. Our courts of honor have had up to 250 proud parents, leaders and young men.

The carrot with vision works.

Author: David L. Olpin | Community Submission

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2 thoughts on “The carrot or the stick?

  1. AvatarSeth Immell

    We want to implement a point system for our cub packs. I have been surprised at how difficult it has been to find information on systems that have already been implemented in a Scout environment. Could someone post a link or more information about the specifics of the point system that was implemented? I’d like to not reinvent the wheel and learn from the mistakes and successes others have already had.

    Thank you for the article and the website. I’ve found many interesting points here.


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