Nearly 40 years ago I took a course from architecture professor Jerry Allan at the University of Minnesota simply called, “Creativity.” The course was a wide study of what it means to be creative and how to maintain a creative mind and spirit even during times of challenge.
Allan argued that the key to remaining creative was to embrace – and even seek out – change. He spoke of driving home by a different route to challenge your perspective, changing the radio station to a new one you’d not ordinarily consider and other alterations to the everyday norm. His point – and I believe it was a good one – was that rote, common-place routine was not only boring, but that it was a creativity killer, as well.
Fortunately for me, not long after taking that class, Jim Krech, Brian Wass and I started the firm that is today Krech, O’Brien, Mueller & Associates. And since day one, the only constant has been change.
This summer has been a perfect example. What might have been a nice, simple and even relaxing summer has become something quite the opposite. We’ve added two new employees (structural engineer in training Dan Jaeger and architectural designer Corey Schmitt), reworked our office space and put into place very concrete plans to elevate the next generation of company leadership. In short, it’s been anything but ordinary, and anything but relaxing. But it’s been good and right, and it’s exactly what we need.
Many of you have heard us speak of our successor partners, those individuals who have positioned themselves to one day take over for Jim, Brady and me. This summer we’ve slowly – but very intentionally – continued that transition process. The successor partners – Mike Lisowski, Marc DuBois, Steve Iaria, Brian Riley and Matt Van Hoof – are taking on more responsibility, making more decisions and having a greater impact on the direction of the company. And while some days I shake my head at how quickly time goes, I remind myself that change is good, and that these are talented, dedicated, high-quality individuals. Our company is in good, caring hands.
Now, don’t start thinking you’re going to get rid of Jim, Brady and me overnight. Oh, no. We’ve still got some value in our old bones and we’re going to be around for a bit. But time does indeed go fast, and we want to be ready for when the time is right.
Amidst all of this, we continue to improve our quality and add to the services we offer. From owner’s representative work to serving as expert witnesses to expansion into new markets, KOMA continues to grow and change.
And while all this change can be challenging and certainly in some instances stressful, I continue to believe what Professor Allan taught me back in 1972: that change is good, right and – ultimately – what sustains us.