The road to a new century: The NEXT factor
By: Owen Clapp
The wheels of your car turn below you on the road as you head home from a lodge event as the wheels are turning in your head about something that could improve the program that you just experienced. Every lodge in the Order of the Arrow continues to grow as ideas are implemented to provide a good experience for every member. From the newest ordeal candidate to the veteran lodge adviser, every brother has an idea to contribute to the success of a lodge. Every Arrowman has a voice! These best practices become valued flavors of each lodge that embody the richness of diversity in our Order. At NEXT: A New Century, these ideas come together, in an event known as the NEXT Factor competition. The program centers around the conference’s greater goal about “how we can improve,” as said by Jeffrey Sedlacek, 2016 Southern Region Chief.
Each lodge had the opportunity to submit any valued practice in a minute long video, summarizing the way that the program has led to success. Thirty lodges participated, and the videos were reviewed by each of the four region chiefs. Each of the chiefs focused on a different area: Jeffery Sedlacek on program for membership retention, Chris Boyle on Cub Scout program, Joe Garcia and Logan Greene on Elections and Online Membership Cards. “NEXT is showing how we can innovate,” Sedlacek explained in an interview.
After review by each of the region chiefs, submissions were narrowed down to the top eight practices. The lodges that are in the final competition for their ideas are Occoneechee, Blue Heron, Wapashuwi, Ajapeu (Washington Crossing Council), Wauna La-Mon’tay, Bob White and Tschitani. “From the hodgepodge of ideas,” according to Sedlacek, “these lodges had ideas that were the most fine tuned and had been practiced, and so we could quantitatively prove that these ideas were good.” The best of the best came from many submissions. Each region chief chose two ideas that “challenge the status quo,” as said by Western Region Chief Joe Garcia in the introductory video. As an example, Sedlacek chose both Occoneechee for its Thunderfest (post Ordeal celebration) idea, and Blue Heron for its parent ‘orientation’ about the Ordeal Experience, which both led to increased membership retention.
After the whittling down process, amidst the reality that “ideas ranged from membership retention to ceremonies,” said Sedlacek, these final eight practices were polished before NEXT with help from their respective region chiefs. Each of the region chiefs coached their two chosen lodges to develop their ideas, with a producer as a liaison between them. “Each contingent had to delve deeper into what their idea is about,” said Sedlacek, recounting the revision process.
For those lodges that did not get selected for the competition, there is still hope. The Innovation Center will serve as place during the conference where lodges can refine ideas submitted in order to still execute them. There, lodges will be able to fine tune what they want to occur, develop new ideas, gain insight and grow their program from new perspectives, all within the Indiana University campus.
The final leg of this journey will be the presentation of these ideas on stage in front of 400 plus brothers at NEXT: A New Century. A competition, the NEXT Factor Finals, will ensue that will determine which idea is the NEXT Factor. In a game show format, delegates from each of the eight chosen lodges will present their idea, sponsored by their region chief. The contingent will also receive questions to answer from other region chiefs, followed by the audience voting. Additionally, two ideas will be selected from among those ideas worked on at the innovation center, and on Tuesday, the NEXT Factor finalists from the innovation center will be presented to the entire conference and a champion will be crowned. Audience members from all areas of the Order will decide which practice will kickstart our strategy in the new century.
Sedlacek ecstatically described the NEXT Factor as “an opportunity for us to see – that lodge is struggling in that area, we’re struggling in that area, we can use that idea to possibly improve it.” Get ready to choose the NEXT Factor!