One of the struggles I used to encounter is how this supposed "chain of command" works. Sure there has to be a goal set and needs to be met in order to run a successful program. I found that "outsiders" often set the goal and forget the real needs of those receiving the program. I made the switch early on to focus more on needs and the goals will take care of themselves. The ultimate person needing assistance is the PL who is the one working directly with his patrol members, i.e. the customer of the program, the one who needs to be successful in order for them to be content and successful themselves. This is the key person who will know specifically what is needed for each scout.
Well, he can't do it all by himself so he has a right-hand man there to ASSIST him in getting it done. This is the APL. Too often the APL does nothing except wait around for the PL to be absent so he can "take over" running the patrol. An active PL will find this person totally useless most of the time and BSA recognizes this by making the APL a non-POR position. Sorry, but this is baloney. The APL needs to know as much about the patrol as does the PL. They are a team working together and thus the APL is the second most important position in the troop. It is his job to make sure the PL is successful. If the PL needs to step away for 3 months so that he can participate in school sports and the APL takes over and runs the patrol during that time, is he not just as important as the PL? Yet he gets no credit for it. That's a joke. And furthermore the APL has no right-hand man to help him during this time. It makes the job even tougher.
So then who supports (not directs) the PL? If someone is "directing" the PL, it is almost certain they do not have the detailed information on the patrol members to give any sort of guidance. The PL should know what his people need, not some outside supervisor. The PL needs a stove to cook on during an outing he puts in his needs to the QM who supports him with material needs for his patrol. The QM doesn't tell him he needs a stove, but he has one ready in case the PL needs it. Same for any other leadership corps positions. They are the PL's "go-to guy" for help.
So what about the SPL? When my PL's set up a PLC when they had 4 patrols and things were a bit dicey and uncoordinated, they became the PLC and set their best APL person in as SPL. This person had the best support skills to assist the PL's do their job once it got large enough to warrant. He understood what was necessary to make sure each of the PL's were successful. He did it for one, now he does it for 4. Yes, it's a big responsibility, but his focus is toward successful PL's with liaison responsibilities with the SM. Up to his point each PL liaisoned with the SM. As the patrol numbers grew this became more of a burden to the SM. The SPL took on that responsibility from the SM and made the job easier and took the final step to total boy led.
The SPL focused solely on working with the PL's. And he then selected an ASPL to support the work of the Leadership Corps of the troop. He assisted every QM to make sure he was successful in getting supplies to the PL's. He trained the TG to work with the NSP and be successful, etc. The SPL could have as many supportive ASPLs as needed to make sure the PL's were getting the help they needed to be successful.
Once this system was in place, the determination of how "good" a POR was done was determined by the PL's. Did the SPL give them the help needed to do their job with the patrol members? If not, they replaced him with someone who would. Did the QM get the right equipment at the right time to the PL's? If not, they replaced him.
The caveat to the whole thing was If the PL was not doing his job, the members of the patrol replaced him. So in fact the total membership had control over who ran the troop and if it wasn't getting done correctly they could in fact make immediate changes, on the spot, to fix the problem.
If the PL ever hears the words, "I need help with...." and he doesn't respond, the membership will lose their trust in that PL and he'll be back at patrol membership in a heartbeat. Same for the QM who hears, "I need help with....", the same for SPL, etc.
The driving dynamic of this setup is from the bottom up, not the top down. What do Committee Members know about what the needs are in the troop? They don't, so why are they mentoring by guessing? What does the SM/ASM team know about what the needs are in the troop? Maybe a bit more, but they have no idea what the total picture is and so they too, mentor with limited knowledge. SPL? With a 15 year old boy there is no what he's going to be able to know what's going on in the troop any more than the SM/ASM team. Who knows? The PL's do. They keep their eye on the success of 6-7 boys and that's about the maximum most humans can handle at one time. Even a corporal in the Army doesn't have much more soldiers to take care of in their squad. BP was military, he knew how things worked from the bottom up.
So we hear expressions such as the "Brass", "Higher Ups", and "Ivory Tower" and it normally is NOT in flattering terms. They are the ones least connected to the actual operation of the organization. Mike LaMach, CEO of Ingersoll Rand, an American globally diversified manufacturing corporation went on record as saying, "The people we have in this organization that work the line making product do not work for us, we work for them."
This is the model I use, it works and for some very magical reason unbeknownst to most, I have virtually no problems of whether or not a POR is running well, whether or not the passed any hoop jumping to get it checked off for rank advancement, no end of the line surprises for the boys at the BOR, no SMC's to correct or direct anything. It kinda runs itself
Scout: "The boys in my patrol are having a problem with the PL, he's never around."
SM: " What do you think will solve this problem?"
Scout: "We all think Johnny would be a better PL."
SM: "Then make him PL."
Scout: "You can do that??!!"
SM: "No, YOU can."
end of discussion.
It works that way, all the way up the chain-of-command. The nice thing about the whole thing is once this was put in place, I have had to do ZERO SMC's on anyone's POR performance. The boys handled it by themselves, all the time. And the really good thing about it was that any officer in the troop knew that if they weren't doing a good job for the boys, they could be replaced on the spot.
After a few months, it was surprising how well things began to run.
I as SM do not need to even ask whether or not they did well in their POR, if they successfully made it to their 6 months, I know the members that were being supported were satisfied with his performance. It's better they keep score than me, anyway. What do I know about the behind the scenes relationships of the boys?