Who has the greatest Social Impact?

Large companies, governments and large NGOs have great social impact. Preparing for tomorrow’s World Scout Committee meeting, I reflected about the social impact of Scouting and Guiding. Combined, their social impact is HUGE! Here are the numbers:

Scouting and Guiding (in the following just called Scouting) have about 50 Million members in almost every country on Earth except for China where Scouting is yet to be allowed. On average, Scouts stay for 3 – 4 years, which means that about 15 Million young people graduate from the programme each year at an average age about 15. Each Scout makes a promise to do his or her best to be a decent person as expressed in different ways around the world through the Scout Law and Promise. About 700 Million people between 15 and 65 have made that promise and trained proper behavior for an average of 3 – 4 years.

The world has about 600 Million white-collar workers and probably about 100 Million of them are managers. We don’t know how many Scouts are managers today, but I would not be surprised if that number is between 30 and 50 Million and it could actually be higher than that. This is indicated by samples in many countries. If the assumption holds, one out of every three managers in the world has a Scout background.

Try to imagine the social impact of this: One out of every three leaders has promised to be a decent person, has learned to respect nature, has learned to meet a foreigner as a friend and has practiced collaboration with others.

Translate this figure to your local community of, say, 100.000 people: About 10.000 of them have an average of three years Scouting background, and out of the 1500 managers in your community, probably 500 have an average of 3 – 4 years of Scouting background.

Nobody knows exactly what the impact of this is, but I trust you agree that it must be great; probably greater  than most mega-companies with maybe one Million employees or even governments of countries with 20 of 50 Million inhabitants.

Scouting’s vision is to double in the next ten years. One generation later, we will live in a world where the majority of all leaders have a background as a Scout.

Come join!

Let me have your comments…

8 kommentarer til “Who has the greatest Social Impact?”

  1. Isabella Lo

    Hi Lars,

    Respect to the work of the Scouts and thanks for your input and effort in that organisation.

    In response to your question, I wonder sports (not as an organisation like the Olymptics) in all its genres may have a similar impact on one’s ambition, persistence, co-operation, etc.

    May be. May be not.

  2. Andreas Vappula Nilsson

    Dear Lars,

    This might be a comment a little on the edge of your post, but I have been viewing your very interesting keynote from the World Scout Education Congress in Hong Kong in November last year, where you in other words address the same topic as you write about here, and further more you give it a normative extension by defining scouting as a movement that “educate tomorrows leaders for positive change”. But what do you mean by saying “positive”? This is my main question to you.

    When still more people around the world engage with scouting and become shaped by scouting it is still more important to focus on the very core – the purpose of the movement. Thank you for doing this and helping the rest of us doing this. But this is exactly why I would like to ask, what you mean by saying “positive”?

    I agree on the instrumental part of the definition – that scouting create leaders and that leaders in many ways have as their core responsibility to create change, where it is needed.

    On the other hand scouting also holds a set of values – the three duties (self, others and God) – that holds an intrinsic core.

    Why not let these values be reflected in your definition. For instance by saying “leaders for responsible change” or “leaders that take holistic responsibility”

    I’m curious and knows that you have put many, many thoughts from your mind and heart into this – so I look forward to hear your comment. What makes “positive” the one word?

    Best regards,
    Andreas Vappula Nilsson
    Member of Blue Scouts of Denmark – Committee for Education

  3. Lars Kolind

    Dear Andreas, Thank you for raissing the issue of “positive” change. I suggest we interpret “positive” in light of the Scout Law, which expresses a desired behavior. Key aspects of this are trustworthy, respect for nature, friendship to all and the ability to handle difficulties. “Responsible” and “sustainable” are part of this, but Scout Law is broader than that.
    “Positive” was chosen to reflect the well-established tag-line of Scouting “Creating a Better World”. Positive change simply aims to create a better world.

  4. Lars Kolind

    Thanks to Isabella for drawing the parallel between Scouting and Sports. I certainly appreciate the positive impact of sports, but there are fundamental difficulties:
    In sports one person or one team wins, while Scouting is designed to make every person be a winner.
    In sports the participant concentrates on one activity while Scouts performs a wide variety of activities in order to develop the person’s full potential: Physically, socially, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.

  5. Andreas Vappula Nilsson

    Dear Lars, Thank you for taking the time to answer.
    I think your ability to make such a short but fulfilling answer to my long question proves the point of the strength in your argumentation.
    I could fear that “positive” and “better” seem to be so fundamental values, that some might say that this is the problem with scouts… their values are so “correct” that nobody can say no to them. On the other hand making positive change for real isn’t simple or easy – and strong case examples could prove that point. And on the general level this might exactly be what you try to state – that the course of scouting is the greatest of them all. And I agree “Leaving the world a little better than you found it” definately is a strong sentence to get back to.

    Regarding the two other main words in your definition of scouting – “leaders” and “change” – one could say that the job for a leader is exactly to create change – to provide whatever is needed in a situation to enable progress. In that way “change” I might say that “change” is represented twice in your definition. On the other hand many leaders don’t provide what is needed in a situation to create change – they might just stand in the way for change to happen – so it might be necessary to mention “change” like you do.

    I hope that the nuances in your argumentation will survive in the many’s interpretation and further communication of your point.

  6. Kasper Kiilerich

    On topic scouting vs. sports
    At The Blue Scouts of Denmark er are now hacking the third season of our national Adventure Scout Leauge. It has never been more popular to attend the different competitions that takes place in scouting as well as on the soccer field. What I as race leader have realized is, that allthough the competitions are popular, we have a major challenge – to create reflection among our participants after they cross the finish line. From my point of view sports and competitions does have potential to be even more usefull to society, if leaders were able to teach their players explicit abot teamwork and development through structured reflection. We in the leauge have not yet found the smart way to create explicit learning after competetion, but we struggle to do it!

  7. Forex Brokers

    I also think what scouting is to great and that scouting create leaders…
    and what the social impact of this? The world will be better?
    I do not know…

  8. Who is winning? | Inspiring people and companies to learn and change

    [...] This posting by Paul Sloane led me to think about what Lars Kolind explains in this blog posting comment: “I certainly appreciate the positive impact of sports, but there are fundamental [...]

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