The Duck

Collage of employees holding a rubber duckAs all great stories do, it started with a duck. A rubber duck, to be precise. I got the duck back in 2013 at a conference, and it has since morphed into a symbol of appreciation for our employees.

I had long felt that it was very important to share appreciation for the people at our company who get the job done, often behind the scenes. Of course, it’s important to celebrate a successful project completion, but we don’t always see all the work that goes into the process. I saw people getting so excited about aspects of their work and striving to share that excitement with others. I saw people coming up with new, innovative ideas and learning new processes to make us more efficient. I wanted to celebrate these successes as well.

Now, not having any practical use for a rubber duck, I started sending it to people who I’d seen go above and beyond their job descriptions to bring value to the company. Pictures of the person posing with the duck and a bit about their work then get posted internally company-wide, so that everyone can see and congratulate the duck-winner. It’s a silly way to drive attention to what really allows us to thrive—our people. This reflects our values as a firm, and I am excited when I hear others talking about the impact it makes. In the seven years since the duck’s inception, it has become something people are proud to receive.

After awarding the first handful to employees I directly worked with, I started looking beyond my immediate surroundings and seeing efforts made in other areas of Mead & Hunt. The duck has since been awarded to people across the company, in multiple offices and departments.

Just a few of the great winners in duck history are:

  • Richard Vojtisek, for finding a way to use his passion in coding to learn Dynamo and create some truly epic shortcuts, coordinating across all disciplines in Architecture & Building Engineering.
  • Olivia Piña, for finding Bluebeam Revu keyboard shortcuts that could be leveraged by other employees and sharing her findings with everyone.
  • Rick Kosciolek, for continually making suggestions for how to improve our methods and pointing out bugs so we can get them fixed.
  • Candace Gosney, for pushing us into virtual public information meetings with our design models.
  • Mark Stifter, for pushing and providing the time for his department to develop and use Revit as effectively and efficiently as possible in key workflows.
  • Tamara Sortman, for being an integral part of the final presentation at an event showcasing the similarities between Adobe Acrobat and Bluebeam Revu, removing the fear of using Revu.

I and my team are always looking for more duck-worthy ideas, and I don’t see the tradition ending any time soon. While the duck no longer gets sent physically, photoshop has allowed it to continue its purpose—and makes for some pretty sweet pictures. There are always employees pushing Mead & Hunt forward if we do the work of looking. Celebrating people is at the core of who we are.

Dan Dankert

About the Author

Dan Dankert, ARACP is Mead & Hunt’s Department Manager for CAD & BIM design supporting our clients and projects with a focus on quality, efficacy and innovation. Outside of work, Dan coaches several sports and can be found supporting the Wisconsin Badgers at several venues.

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