Is it possible to plan too far in advance? People who ask us what’s on our schedule this time of year might ponder this. It’s because we tell them that if it’s January, it must be time to think about back to school.
Most of the world follows some kind of cycle. Schools start up usually in late August or early September. People begin shopping for what students need to go back to school in late July. So, if you think about the logistics involved, right about now is the optimal time for educational institutions to order vinyl and poly folders, envelopes, pouches, sleeves and other packing or loose-leaf products.
Here’s one of my favorite stories which illustrates how educational institutions have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to planning.
Beam Me Up
You’ll appreciate the irony of the name. New College, Oxford is this educational institution’s actual name. It was founded in 1379, and it’s one of Oxford’s oldest colleges—so it’s anything but “new.” And, like many other British colleges, it has a great dining hall. Picture the Hogwarts dining hall in any of the “Harry Potter” movies, and you’ve got the idea.
New College, Oxford’s great dining hall has oak beams spanning 45 feet in length, and some are as large as 2 feet square.
In the early 1900s, it was discovered that the oak beams in the great dining hall were riddled with beetles. The beams needed to be replaced. This news was relayed to the college council. It didn’t take a degree in higher education to deduce that this was a serious situation. Oak beams that large would be nearly impossible to find.
The story goes that during a meeting on the subject, one of the junior members suggested there must be some old and tall oaks on land owned by the college. Over the centuries, Oxford has been endowed with land distributed throughout the country. The properties are overseen by an employee of the college system who has the official title of College Forester.
Just For This Purpose
The college forester was contacted about the problem and asked if there were any oaks on Oxford-owned land that might be used for the replacement project.
The forester was reportedly delighted and relieved to have an answer, as apparently, he was seldom contacted by the college and thought perhaps he might be in trouble. He told the council that there was a specific grove of old oaks that had been purposely left alone for the purpose of being harvested as replacements for the great dining hall beams at New College, Oxford. The grove had been planted right about the time that the college had been founded (although records show that the land was not endowed to Oxford for another 60 years).
Today—somewhere on the land scattered across England on land owned by Oxford—are oak trees that will become the next set of beams for the college system’s great dining halls.
You don’t have to be an educational institution with the longevity of Oxford to appreciate the benefits of long-term thinking and planning ahead. We love our educational customers because they definitely understand why this time of the year is the best time to plan for something that most others won’t even consider for another 6 months.
We can help you plan ahead. Our expertise comes from over 40 years of experience helping companies across many industries. You might say we’ve learned a thing or two from Oxford without ever stepping foot on its hallowed halls.