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Seeking Opportunities: Offsite Meeting Designed to Find a Variety of Projects for District

Published March 15, 2016

Earlier  this year, Wilmington District leadership held a brainstorming session to find potential project opportunities. District Commander Col. Kevin Landers, Sr. explains what developed from the offsite meeting. 

 What were the main objectives of the offsite meeting?

 The offsite was designed to look at three important aspects of our organization.  First, the members of the offsite were to describe what OPPORTUNITIES exist that are currently untapped.  Secondly, a session discovered what RELATIONSHIPS need to be fostered in order to realize some of those OPPORTUNITIES that lie ahead. Lastly, how do we establish some goals in the short term, near term and long term for realizing these RELATIONSHIPS and OPPORTUNITIES in order to get some return on such an investment (ROI).

 How are we going to look for opportunities?  What are the potential opportunities? 

   The conventional Army has seen a down-turn in new Military Construction in recent years as most installations have built out their infrastructure.  This same build out is projected for the Special Forces community in the coming five years.  As we look ahead into this time horizon, what business lines can be bolstered to carry some of this capacity?  There are some functional areas that the group discussed that could be leveraged for potential expansion to account for the capacity dip in the MILCON arena.  There are areas such as the Continuing Authorities Program (CAP) that we have started to build an expertise within that could be expounded locally and Regionally.  Other such expansion could be seen in the Navigation Sector where we maintain some expertise that no other District along the eastern seaboard possesses.  Doing work for others and "marketing" our capabilities to the likes of the Environmental Protection Agency could prove to be a way forward as well.  Opportunities such as these exist, we have to formulate a plan, formulate a process, and invest in planting the seeds today to reap the benefits on such an investment tomorrow.   

 What are the plans to develop relationships both externally and internally? 

 In our business, our success or failure relies heavily on relationships.  We often talk about the relationships to our stakeholders but I am not so sure we put as much energy and effort into the relationships we have internally.  Externally, does our customer base really feel as though we have their best interests at heart?  Is there a perception that we are committed to their cause?  In most instances I think the answer is that we do.  The question becomes one of where to we prioritize these efforts to get the most return on a relational investment.  All stakeholders are not equal, and thus we should not invest equally into the relationships.  These are conscience decisions that should drive where we as an organization place our emphasis and place our diminishing dollars. 

 A similar argument can be made for the internal relationships.  We in the Corps are very good and working within our stovepipes.  These stovepipes surround us and are a formal part of our organizational structure.  A Community of Practice or COP is a perfect example.  Although these stovepipes and artificial barriers exist, how are we consciously working through these barriers to align our efforts to the same end state?  Are we positioning those around us to succeed or remaining in our bubble of comfort?  There is a tremendous amount of work that can be a quick win just by developing a better understanding of what the "other half does."  If I am in Regulatory, do I understand the capabilities inside of Engineering and Construction, Operations let alone Navigation inside of Operations?  If I am a Park Ranger, do I too understand the capabilities in Regulatory?  We as a corporate body would be better employees, better managers, better leaders if we had a more comprehensive understanding as to what the other half does.  We can build a program that teaches each other what the rest of the organization does and each become a better representative of the United States Army Corps of Engineers.  It starts with each of us and the relationships we foster internally to get there.

 The Army lives by a set of values; loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.  How can we apply some of those values to the Wilmington District?

 At this point in my career I could write a Thesis paper on what appears to be a simplistic question.  I want to dial into two aspects of this question.  The first of the two surrounds the notion of respect.  I attempt and often fail at trying to live by the guiding principle of doing to others as you would have done to you.  This simple concept is one that many of us have heard since we started off in life.  Sometimes we fall short in allowing our emotions to carry the best of us off and take those emotions to the point where the respect of our colleagues, managers and fellow human being are not brought to the forefront.  This is a military organization built on the foundation of chain of command and respect.  That respect must be recognized up and down the chain of command and it starts with the most simplistic tenant of treating everyone around me the way I wish to be treated.  That simplistic and somewhat childish saying goes a long way to making us a stronger more productive organization.

 Secondly, duty and selfless service come in all shapes and sizes.  These tenants are built around the philosophy that there is something more to what we do than ourselves.  So many of you give of yourself to where this profession is not a job, it is a life choice to serve.  Duty and selfless service is why some of you are here on a Sunday afternoon to finish a deadline, why some of you give back to your community, and why some continue to serve long past eligibility to retire.  The perspective of selfless service and duty are different to and for different people.  The view and definition are different as we all have a different walk in life.  The Army defines Selfless service putting the Welfare of the Nation, the Army, and Your Subordinates Before one's Own.  This resonates but can be interpreted in a host of ways.  We must understand that the lens we look through is not necessary the same lens that those around me look through.  Respect cannot be separated from this notion of selfless service in that your sacrifice and my sacrifice might not look the same to the onlooker, but might be in keeping with my comfort level or my viewpoint. 

   On a special note: Thank you all for your sacrifices and thank you all for your service as each of you are making a difference in a different way. 

 

Col. Kevin Landers, Sr., EN