One rule to rule them all, one rule to bind them…

December 12th, 2007 by bebersghost

Last month I made a somewhat humorous attempt to address the impact of bureaucracy on chapters. The truth of the matter is that (as a number of people informed me), that the ability of the bureaucracy to cause harm in BBYO is self-limiting. When the complexity becomes too great, it is simply ignored.

That’s one reason that Dashboard adoption has been slow when it comes to chapters using it to manage and clear events. While I expect many chapters are now using it for basic functionality (such as clearing events), I’ll bet it’s a rare chapter that uses it fully as intended (or even understands how to use it as intended). Chapter leaders have better things to do with their time than take long training courses on Dashboard – courses made necessary by the fact that it probably has one of the single most non-intuitive user interfaces in the history of the web. Seriously, whoever designed the user interface should be banned from any web development until they’ve taken a multi-year course on remedial web design.

That’s the nature of unintended consequences. BBYO invests in a very detailed policy manual intended to create uniform standards and procedures. Unfortunately, regions, staff, chapters and advisors are anything but uniform, so inevitably many of the procedures seem foolish at best, harmful at worst. The unintended consequence? Large numbers of individuals at the regional and chapter level (staff and members alike) end up interpreting, avoiding or ignoring policies in order to make things work.

This is not really a good thing. While it does protect the international order from lawsuits, it does shift the liability to the local level. It also creates a general disrespect for the rules – even those that do make sense.

BBYO staff will argue that standardized policies and rules is necessary to protect the organization and that it is too difficult to either create different rules for different localities or to allow local regions flexibility. This simply is not true. Yes, it would be difficult to allow individual regions to propose and adopt variations on policy – those changes would need to be reviewed by BBYO’s risk management team. But difficult does not mean impossible, nor does it mean it is not worth doing.

One Response to “One rule to rule them all, one rule to bind them…”

  1. Adam Goldberg Says:

    Be prepared for some rambling within this reply…

    I definitely believe that international policy has influenced my chapter. My council director is wasting our time by forcing every program to go through the dashboard. Sure, it may be more convenient to sign up online, but it absolutely brings in unnecessary work. You are completely right, Ghost, to say that chapter leaders have better things to do with their time than take meaningless classes on Dashboard that will build no leadership skills whatsoever. I think it’s great how BBYO has become so great on the international level within the past decade or so, but without the chapters dominating, BBYO cannot succeed. AZA began as a single chapter in Omaha, and the first international convention consisted of (essentially Mid-America Region) only Omaha, KC, Lincoln, and Des Moines. But the most important thing that happened at that convention was the amount of brotherhood. And NOT the “international policy” that dominates our entire beloved realm of BBYO today.


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