Monday, September 12, 2011

Getting the Job Done

In this month's editorial, “Seeking Hope 10 Years Later,” AARP Bulletin editor Jim Toedtman took an interesting angel on the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. He focused on the little 245 year old chapel that stood unscathed by the enormous destruction across the street from Ground Zero that day. 

St. Paul's Chapel, part of the Trinity Wall Street Episcopal church, is Manhattan’s oldest public building in continuous use. President George Washington actually attended worship service there. Amazingly, it did not suffer more than a serious dusting.

The photo of the chapel in the midst of the smoke and debris drew my attention along with this highlighted quote, “People were able to give up their self-interest and get the job done.”

That phrase, “get the job done” was still fresh in my memory from a meeting I recently had with Dr. Paul Alexander, our Vice President of Academic Affairs. It was in the context of his confiding his reluctance (dread) of reading through such documents as the faculty handbook currently in the final stage of revision. He told me he prefers to just do what ever it takes to “get the job done.”

While I am one of those people who will read through and edit those kinds of detailed technical documents, trust me. I appreciate his “just get the job done” attitude. Sometimes is a wonderful thing to be part of a smallish private institution where we are not bound by as much bureaucracy as bigger state organizations. But we do agree to hold ourselves accountable to certain rules, procedures, policies, and protocols in order to maintain standards of excellence. When those rules no longer serve the higher purpose, it's time to make revisions.

At St. Paul's Chapel a need arose way beyond anyones's imagination. I'm sure it wasn't in their charter to do what they did to help the workers – the first responders in their search and rescue then recovery efforts.
“'No matter what changed, what the rules were, the common goal was the get these people some food, to get these people to a safe place... and do what ever it took to get the job done.'”

Most of us are really about “getting the job done.” Not to trivialize the significance of that work, but it struck me that a parallel could be drawn to the overwhelming information chaos that is crashing around us (through no malicious intent.)

In this scenario, I see the library as the little chapel standing beside the info-rubble ringing our Bell of Hope. Our goal is to support and equip those who are called to respond, rescue, and recover (i.e., students) to sift through the deluge of information -- no matter what changed -- to accomplish our common goal.

Picture from Trinity Wall Street 

No comments: