We Have It Good
Awareness and Discovery
“We have it really good here at Ole Miss,” one of our Landscape Leaders said. After listening to what other campuses are going through, his appreciation and awareness was at a new high. How often do we get to hear our staff say things like this, especially in front of their peers? It was great to hear it, but knowing why it was said is the most important part of the conversation. In short, this Leader was understanding the value of “context”. I think he was voicing the results of our team’s sense of exploration – specifically through the road trip. I have noticed when I go to a new site for a visit I have a new sense of awareness and discovery.
- Awareness: We do not exist in a vacuum free of comparison and assessment. When I first came to work at Ole Miss, then Chancellor Robert Khayat encouraged me to go see the Vanderbilt University campus as soon as possible. Visiting a fellow SEC University campus and witnessing first hand their design and use of outdoor spaces was extremely valuable to me. Within a year, I loaded up a van full of staff and went back again and other campus visits followed. Today, some 14 years later, I don’t recall all the facts we gathered or even the cool stories we told, but I do know the relationships and overall direction we wanted to take our team was forming through this and the many other trips we took. There is such great value in going to see what people are doing on their campuses, cities, parks, hotels, and factories. You learn so much – good and bad.
- Discovery: Attaching a vision to the outcome helps in developing a plan of action. I found trips to other campuses a great way to change the negative direction of an existing team. When an organization knows where it wants to go, it is really helpful to show those on the team what the new direction looks like. Chancellor Khayat had told me prior to arriving at Ole Miss that he wanted our campus to be 5 star, a hotel rating for the top category of properties. Our translation of that term was “best of our best”. There was some great discussion on how we do this, what this looks like. Our staff discovered new ideas during multiple campus visits and proceeded to implement them. During these off-campus visits, the team was also discovering what could go wrong in landscape design and maintenance – their eye for detail was getting stronger. Their awareness was growing and they were experiencing how first impressions do make a difference. Interacting with staff from other properties, we heard the good, bad and ugly and this led to a new level of appreciation for what we have, along with a challenge to discover a better way of doing what others were doing right.
Learning on the purpose-driven road trip pays huge dividends in getting our teams to move faster and further. On a more personal note, I love the time driving when conversation wanders and we get to know one another on a personal level – hearing their hearts as well as their minds. Our staff have not always said, “We have it good at Ole Miss.” It is all about context and perspective. That is what property visits provide -an awareness of what you have and what you want, as well as a discovering a way to grow it and one another.