Living our Core Values – Excellence

The beginning of the Spring term is a perfect time for the third entry in our continuing series on Living Our Core Values. Guest author Roger Dusing takes a look at how we can bring EXCELLENCE into our daily life.

Visit our archives to read other posts in the series – on ACCOUNTABILITY and CIVILITY and RESPECT.

We seek EXCELLENCE in all we do, with passionate learning as our highest priority.

In 1982, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman published In Search of Excellence. This groundbreaking book described eight themes that the authors argued were responsible for the success of the companies they studied. This best-selling book was followed by A Passion for Excellence by Peters and Austin in 1985, Jim Collins’ books Good to Great in 2001 and Great by Choice in 2011, and many more. What these books have in common is research into organizations that have made an intentional decision to focus on excellence.

Park University values that intentional focus on excellence. We don’t just want to be a “good” university that is an “okay” place to work where students get an “adequate” education. That is not what we are all about. Park University wants to be a phenomenal organization, that is a best-in-class place to work, and where students get an outstanding education.

To achieve this ideal, we will have to work very hard. Park will need to embrace change – to challenge every assumption – to push ourselves, and each other, to be the best that we can be. Excellence is never an accident. Einstein said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Tom Peters said “every organization is perfectly organized to achieve the results they are currently achieving.” What both of these men are saying is if you want to be better, you must change something – and maybe everything.

We need to create an environment where we constantly scrutinize our work – not just our effort but our results – and if they are not “excellent” then change something. Don’t form a committee to study it. Don’t hide in a corner and hope nobody notices. Don’t shout from the back of the room “somebody needs to do something about this!” Instead, step up and say, “here is my idea and here is how I want to help make that idea a reality.”

At the heart of this search for excellence is passionate learning. While we must strive to be efficient and fiscally responsible, we cannot lose sight of our mission to provide an outstanding education to our students. We want them to have a passion for learning and the opportunity to fulfill that passion. But, it is not just our students who love to learn, it is also our employees. Our environment should push us all to never stop learning. To continually strive for new knowledge and new ways to apply that knowledge. The adage is “when you stop growing you start dying.” We want everyone to continue to grow and use that new knowledge to drive excellence.

Excellence comes from a mix of passion and hard work. It is time for each of us – every single employee – to pick up a portion of Park University, put it on our backs, and take the responsibility to make that part of the University excellent. Make a vow to yourself, and everyone one you work with, to never go home at the end of day without being able to say proudly – I did my best today – I was excellent. If we all do that, we cannot imagine how great we can be.