When Change Is Inevitable, Scouts Must Stay Ahead of the Curve


FEBRUARY 17, 2017

Whenever I represent the Indonesian Scout Movement at meetings with various government agencies, such as the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency, or BPOM, recently, I am always heartened to hear my counterparts praise the revival of pramuka, or scouting, as a popular extracurricular activity for students.

Their enjoyment, I believe, comes from the fact that the scout movement has managed to overcome its tardiness to adopt to changes and new dynamics among the Indonesian youth.

While the scout movement has spread around the world and scouting became a byword for adventure, usefulness and global friendship, we need to recognize that the world has changed and to stay relevant, we must change too.

It is crucial for the Indonesian Scout Movement to find a venture that may spark new ideas on how we should strategically embrace change.

And that is exactly what the current management is doing. The national scout movement is working on delivering change: solid and tangible change.

We embrace social media and the prerequisite to have great and appealing content. Not merely to expect viral conversations or trending topics, but to lay the groundwork for the implementation of e-learning for our members to allow them to rightfully earn their digital merit badges. More importantly, we stay connected to changes, to enlighten us in the way we think and strategize in nurturing and expanding our organization and this legendary movement.

It has been 55 years since Indonesia's founding president, Soekarno, together with the founding father of the national scouting movement, Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono XI, initiated its establishment. Their vision has echoed through the ages and given birth to quality young people who can embrace, conquer and navigate changes.

To Grow Is to Change and Do It Collectively

Growth in the modern world has become a nonlinear process. In a simpler sentence, to grow optimally in this new world, one cannot do it alone. Look at Facebook: as it grew to become the world's most popular platform for content sharing, it produced almost no original content. While Uber, the world's largest taxi company as of last year, owns no vehicles and Alibaba, which is the world's most valuable retailer, owns no inventory.

Collaboration is key to winning. The world today is not about building "towers"; it is about building "bridges" between existing towers and adding greater value to it during the process. We must embrace this phenomenon and reposition our movement to make the best of it.

In conjunction with this effort, there are three key areas where we should excel. I call it the "3Rs," which stand for rebranding, recruitment and relevance.

Rebranding the scout movement pervades the process of building a new brand image for our beloved organization. Scouting is cool. Why cool? The "cool factor" is undeniably a strong driving force in this new world. It leads marketplace trends, adds symbolic currency to products and drives the way people behave.

If we can ensure that "cool" is the first thing people think about when they hear about the scout movement, more opportunities will emerge for us to build bridges.

To give a more concrete idea, allow me to highlight one of the things the Indonesian Scout Movement has achieved.

Over the past few years, to complement our traditional networking routines via training sessions and activities at schools and universities, we employed new, unconventional ways to engage with our fellow scouts across the archipelago via Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. The scout movement established its own cyber-unit and its own online media outlet, known as Pramuka Pos.

And we are not alone. Countless of accounts, blogs and websites are being developed independently by fellow scouts who are very virtuous in finding a foothold in this territory.

This initiative allows us to further understand the dynamics of youth movements in Indonesia and even gain some valuable resources for our movement. It also inspires the scout movement to cooperate with organizations that share the same vision of digital engagement, such as Unicef, Jawa Pos and Walt Disney.

Recruitment is the next stepping stone as our rebranding process starts to pay off. The Asia-Pacific chapter of the World Organization of Scout Movements (WOSM) has set a membership target of 100 million by 2020, which represents a growth rate of 150 percent. Indonesia, with an estimated 20 million active scout members, will obviously lead in this expansion campaign.

This ambitious target can only be achieved if we implement a more effective and efficient recruitment process. By this I mean that we must use the best technology to identify potential new members whose values and interests align with ours.

E-mapping, e-registration, e-manuals, web-based training and certifications should be available to facilitate young people from all over the world, whether they are based in schools or homeschooling, male or female, with different abilities or special needs, or living in remote areas, to become active scouts.

Digital recruitment platforms and learning methods inspire us to listen and communicate, not merely to increase numbers. With this in mind, our future jamborees and camps must offer technology as a main feature. Again, the scout movement's cyber-team and Unicef-initiated @UReport_id have paved the way to a hi-tech revolution that will hopefully in the near future become an inseparable part of scouting in Indonesia.

Relevance is the end goal as we embrace the waves of change by restructuring our world today. In many cases, the relevance of an organization is coherent with the added value it offers the environment and stakeholders. The scout movement is no exception to this.

As I have mentioned earlier, we can grow our value in this new world by building bridges, not towers. More specifically, bridges between resources required to create positive social change.

I imagine that when a social entrepreneur, a scout, successfully empowers the people of some poor suburban district in Bandung, West Java, or Surabaya, East Java, through a micro-financing program that he or she created, the same program can be implemented in another less-developed area in Lebak, Banten, or Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, with our members in those respective areas acting as agents.

Even to the extent that, I imagine, a top-notch IT engineer from Yogyakarta can transfer his or her knowledge to hundreds of young startup developers in Hanoi who need more coding skills to add greater value to their products.

And I believe these stories should not end just as imagination. Collaboration is needed to work together to transform them into actual success stories.

To sum it all up; change is inevitable.

It infects everyone and all organizations. The scout movement is no exception to this phenomenon. We cannot afford to lose the momentum we have built up that has revived the image parents, the community and even the youth have of the scout movement. Let us continue to embrace change, conquer and navigate it.

Salam Pramuka!

Arie Rukmantara is a national commissioner for planning, development and cooperation at the Indonesian Scout Movement and a member of the management subcommittee of the Asia-Pacific chapter of the World Organization of Scout Movements.