Be Good and Great
At the August 2014 Fall Kick-Off, I talked to faculty and staff about the concepts of Good to Great as described by author Jim Collins. He, along with others, researched companies that had remained “great” over decades, shifting and changing as needed to stay relevant and competitive. In follow-up, his team looked at non-profit agencies, including education, for their success strategies. Their research found several factors, but a clear need is to: “Do whatever you can to get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and right people in right seats.”
Of course, this relates to how we recruit, select, and employ people who are the heart and hands of the college. Collins says that greatness is a matter of conscious choice and discipline, not circumstances. We can choose to plan or how to react to our circumstances. It is like the old joke, “I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.” It is easy to blame external circumstances for our history or present problems—and to tamp down expectations for the future. We do have significant challenges and too few resources.
While it is always easier to make progress with a fast car and plenty of gas, it is possible to move forward on a donkey or even a goat! Maybe we have to charge into the future with the pace of a turtle, but we can still get there. I love the story we have all heard about the three stonemasons asked by a passerby about the nature of their work. One took a specific, task–based focus. He was laying stone. The second could see how each brick fit together for a larger purpose, and she responded she was building a wall. The third felt a part of a grand vision and great goal. This skilled worker said with pride, “I am building a great cathedral.” I hope each of us can step back and see the great and good work we are doing or working toward.
I see this all the time at BCTC. Groups and individuals are challenged to make progress, to add services, to improve processes without proper resources. We have to “Keep pushing in an intelligent and consistent direction,” Collins says. Remember, Batman has no superpowers! Let’s help each other remember, we have a great vision and the capacity to make it come true.
Augusta A. Julian, Ed.D