OK Is Not Good Enough

Roddy Boggus

Roddy Boggus (NCARB, AIA) is a vice president and the Aviation Buildings Service Group leader at RS&H. He has 30+ years of aviation-specific experience in multidisciplinary practices for organizations in the U.S. and throughout the world. Writing, speaking and moderating on the global stage, he continuously challenges the industry to innovate and look forward when developing air service facilities. Boggus was the 2017 board chair of the Airport Consultants Council, a former ACI Global World Business Partner board chair, and sits on the board of directors for the International Partnering Institute and the International Association of Airport Executives.

I’d like to think that I am smart. 

Unfortunately, every time I start to feel that way, I find myself in a “learning moment.” These learning moments have a way of humbling me, but also exposing me to new ways of thinking and bigger ideas to explore. 

One example that always comes back to me—and the one I try to emulate most—is a lesson I learned while working at San Francisco International Airport. It is a simple concept, one that we all try to do innately, but many times do not think about actively. I am talking about Exceptional Project Outcome.

Think about the current AT&T commercials on television, where everything is just “OK.” 

“How is my surgeon?” 

“Oh, he’s OK.” 

Do you really want a doctor operating on you who is just OK? I would hate if my employer viewed me as just OK. 

As a patient, you want the best surgeon. As an employee and employer, you should strive to be the best. 

It is with this in mind that I work to provide each client an Exceptional Project Outcome, or EPO. I often wonder if our clients ever have the “They’re OK” conversation while sitting around the boardroom considering their capital needs and talking about what company to hire. Do they say, “Hey, this firm is OK. They’ve done several terminals, and they came out OK.” 

Shouldn’t our clients expect more than just OK? Even though many passengers who move through our terminals are attracted more by airline fares than the facility itself, shouldn’t we strive to create something exceptional? 

When our clients walk into their new facility, is their response, “This is really nice”? Wouldn’t it be great if they walked into their new or renovated facilities and said, “Damn, this is fantastic!”?

I don’t know about you, but I would like to hear the latter. I would like to hear my clients say, “We want him because he always gives us a little something more, something that surpasses our expectations. Something exceptional.”

We often say, “When you see one airport, you’ve seen one airport.” And that’s true: No two airports are the same. 

But many are kind of the same. 

Are we developing facilities with immersive experiences that provide the opportunity for every passenger to have an individualized experience? Are we staying true to Sullivan’s Maxim, “Form follows function,” or are we generally delivering form that follows form?

We live in an age when Moore’s Law, which says that the speed of computer processing doubles every 18 months, is now an antiquated idea. These days, knowledge doubles every 12 hours as we build out the internet of things. With this type of mind-blowing expansion, are there expectations that things are going to be different? 

In short, yes. 

EPO looks for exceptional results in design, construction, participation, economic, sustainability and management outcomes. This includes components such as the passenger experience, end-user satisfaction, disputes and claims, safety, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise goals, job creation, exceeding revenue, reduced operation and maintenance costs, environmental stewardship, social inclusion, schedule and budget performance, just to name a few.

I feel the same way about dealing with each other. This is something that younger industry professionals, the ages of my kids, are bringing forward as Social Justice. Sometimes, as hard as that is to swallow, I also find an inconvenient truth in it.

As we fly in 2020, I think there is room for us architects, planners, engineers and consultants to do better and be better—not only to our clients, but also to each other. Here’s to a renewed effort of Finding EPO!

This article?  It’s OK ;) 

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