“Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” That quote always ticks off teachers (and rightfully so.) But the slur was actually aimed at bureaucrats: the complete quote ends with “and those who can do neither administer.” As someone who has been both a teacher and an administrator, I naturally take exception to the sentiment. Like most things, administration is inherently neither good or bad; it can be done well or poorly. Increasingly I’ve come to understand the skills necessary for management. And I appreciate those who master those skills.
Fortunately, there is a cadre of folks who dedicate themselves to mastering administration – the administrative professionals. In most organizations, they are the people who know how to get things done. Without fanfare, and with little recognition, they ensure smooth operations, everything from juggling complex calendars to ensuring timely and effective communication, keeping everyone on track and on time (and in many cases fed).
The word “administer” appeared in English in the 14th century. It derives from the Latin “ministrare,” the same root as “minister,” meaning to serve. And administration is about service. For us, it is service not only to those who work at Children’s, but ultimately to those patients and families who benefit from a well-run hospital and health system.
So thank you to all those administrative professionals at Children’s. I appreciate the myriad ways you make my job easier, and help our organization get closer to our vision that Wisconsin’s kids will be the healthiest in the country. You can take pride in your role in that. You not only can, you serve.