Message from the President
Synergy is a word that has gone in and out of fashion for nearly 350 years. In a general sense it means "joint work," "cooperation." Synergy was a word much in use at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in 2003, a year in which we emphasized quality performance through teamwork across divisions and departments—from marketing to research, from the Internet to the Historic Area, from hospitality to human resources. In 2003, we marshaled all the organization's components under the banner "One Foundation," the motivating phrase of a campaign to encourage us, in our diversity, to act as the single organization we are. The central objective has been to ensure that the value of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts—to think like, to talk like, to function like, to be One Foundation.
Complex enterprises like Colonial Williamsburg sometimes seem as if they are several operations running in separate orbits with little in common but a name, and in some situations that may make good sense. In fact, our individual operations have functioned well, if somewhat independently. But it seemed to me they could be more mutually supportive and reinforcing, as well as more efficient. Importantly, closer coordination of our efforts across the foundation would convey a clearer message to our multiple constituencies about the whole of Colonial Williamsburg. The One Foundation initiative emphasizes that our core mission is education, and that all the other activities either are extensions of that mission, or support it, or nourish it financially, and enrich the guest experience. In 2003, this approach became fundamental to the way we do business.
All the foundation's staffs are benefiting from a more cooperative and structured approach toward achieving their common goals. That structure emphasizes guest focus, improved communication internally and externally, collaboration on special projects and events, stewardship of our extraordinary resources, and personal accountability. Where there are like tasks to be performed, staffs are taking responsibility to share processes, avoid duplication, enhance operational efficiencies, conserve resources, and make seamless Colonial Williamsburg's "America. Chapter I." adventure.
President Colin G. Campbell stands in the middle of staff from around Colonial Williamsburg. Wearing the costumes or clothing of their worksites or holding the tools of their trades are Anna Agbe-Davies, Patrick Andrews, Stevenson Bailey, Bill Barker, John Boag, Natasha Brown, Glen Byrnes, Juleigh Clark, Gayle Clarke, Tony Craig, Larry Earl, Claudia Fitzgerald, Leroy Graves, Julia Harrod, Bridgette Houston, Clara Johnson, Craig Joseph Sr., Richard Josey, Denise Kellogg, Pete Roberts, Kathy Rose, Juliet Schwarz, Elaine Shirley, James Smith, Valli Anne Trusler, Darrell Waddell, Alice Watkinson, Dennis Watson, Bill Weldon, and John Wullert.
Our Internet effort is a good example of synergistic success. Online marketing, sales, and educational communications have become far more effective because a cross-disciplinary team is making coordinated use of Internet opportunities. That team melds specialists in the World Wide Web, information technology, marketing, and public relations with the people responsible for Historic Area programming, for educational outreach, and for tending our intellectual flame—the research staff.
When we set out to train employees to work with a new and improved ticket structure, the human resources department took full advantage of sales expertise in hospitality, products, and marketing to help Visitor Center salespeople communicate the variety of ticket options so that our guests could determine which experience might be best for them.
The products program has since its earliest days concentrated on selling reproductions, interpretations, and adaptations of eighteenth-century goods. The items now offered in the Historic Area's Prentis Store are hand made by our Historic Trades craftspeople. Thus the store serves both our retail and educational aims, demonstrating the linkage between them, and also giving more attention, in a commercial setting, to the extraordinary workmanship and productivity of Historic Area staff.
Colonial Williamsburg's hospitality operations have long been linked to the Historic Area through historic taverns staffed by costumed servers and balladeers offering adaptations of eighteenth-century food and entertainment, and by guest lodgings in Colonial Houses. Interpretive training and guidance for costumed hospitality employees is provided by Historic Area staff to ensure authenticity. Synergy has been further enhanced through popular seasonal lodging and dining vacation opportunities such as the Glorious Gardens package and the Ghosts and Legends package, which provide some of the very best that the Historic Area and our hospitality team have to offer at appealing prices.
Such cross-pollination is becoming the rule rather than the exception in organizations across the land. It makes sense for Colonial Williamsburg to be among those leading the way. After all, synergy is at the heart of the story we tell, the creation from thirteen disparate colonies of an idea greater than the sum of the parts, the idea of America, an idea for all people, for all time.
Colin G. Campbell