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A newsletter header image with an image of Dan Bollman behind the title 'The Details with Dan Bollman'

You are already a strong MSU steward

November 21, 2015

If you were talking to someone who had never seen the earth, how would you describe it to them and have them really understand what it’s like? It’s not that easy to do in just a few minutes, is it? Maybe they’d have a vague idea of what you’re talking about, but the details wouldn’t be there.

That’s pretty much where I think we are after last week’s town hall meetings. Many of you have some vague understanding that there are strategic objectives, but you’d be hard pressed to offer any details. You might have a neat little card* that tells you what the objectives are, but do you “get” them? Can you see how they apply to you?

Let’s stop looking at the whole earth and zoom in. Let’s talk about one objective at a time.

The first one is about enhancing MSU stewardship by improving efficiency and/or reducing costs. To make progress towards this objective, you first have to see yourself as an MSU steward. A steward is a curator, a keeper, a guardian and a custodian. It’s a feeling, more than anything else. It definitely has to do with feeling proud of what you do.

And you should feel proud, because you already do a great job. When you’re working hard all day long but you keep hearing about the need for improved efficiency and reduced costs, it’s easy to hear “You’re not doing a good enough job.” If that’s what you’ve been hearing, hit the erase button! That’s definitely not how I feel about you and the work you’ve doing!

But. Here’s reality. The cost to attend Michigan State University is rising. In fact, the cost to attend any college is on the rise. Throughout higher education, units like ours are being asked to dig deep and find ways to do more with less (yes, I hate that phrase too). So if it’s possible to find a faster or better or cheaper way to do something, who better to ask than the people who are actually doing the work? The ideas are in you—and we need you to share them. Looking for ways to create more value from what we do and sharing what works with your colleagues, that’s called being a steward.

How do you share your ideas? Participate in the action planning process that’s coming. Talk to your supervisor or your business leader (or anyone on any of the leadership teams). Send me an email, or send it to There are suggestion boxes in every IPF building—use them, or use the new online suggestion box on the front page of the Hub under Quick links.

So when you hear about improving efficiency and reducing costs, don’t take it as a criticism. Take it as a challenge, and be proud that you’re already a good MSU steward.

*IPF Strategic Objectives cards were handed out at the town hall meetings. I want everyone in IPF to have one, so if you don’t have yours, please let your supervisor know. Supervisors, we’ll be asking you to find out how many of your team members don’t have cards yet. Communications will supply you with cards to give to employees who don’t already have theirs. Thanks!

Until next time,


P.S. Have something you want to share, suggest or complain about? Send it to