Why Proximity Matters

I’ve always known intuitively why being close to one’s group of colleagues is important. Yesterday I was reminded why.

The Provost is leading a special working group to resolve some open questions together with our Faculty. She’s incredibly agile in how she works with a team, and I learned how when there was a key question about Finances that she couldn’t answer, she asked the group to wait, and she walked to the EVP of Finance’s office to bring him into the group, impromptu, to clarify a point. When she needed me on a clarification of executive decision making, she knocked on my door and asked if I’d make an impromptu appearance. Delighted of course to support such a creative act of meeting-making.

A year ago the Provost’s office was 5 buildings away from the administrative core of our school, and so when I became President the Provost moved to be on the same floor in the same building with me. We knew it was a good idea, but wasn’t sure what it would bring. Random encounters are certainly increased, and it’s great to bring together much more flow of Faculty through the administrative functions of our school. But the impromptu composition of the key people in first person in order to increase understanding — the utilization of true on-the-field teamwork — now that’s priceless.