Truth to Power

I’ve always like the story of the NASA janitor, who when asked what he did at the space HQ by JFK in 1961  replied “Sir, I’m helping to put a man on the moon!”   This for me epitomises that every member of an organisation or company has an important role to play in its visions, values and achievements.

Sometimes those in what may be considered more minor positions within a company have the ability to see very clearly where there is a problem.

A client of ours took the time to ask all their staff about how expenditure could be reduced. One of their site staff highlighted that in a previous year it was agreed to change supplier for their rubbish bin liners.  Money was saved as the product was cheaper.  However, the maintenance team had found that the bin liners were so thin, that they split readily, requiring two liners to be used – costing more money than the originals.

This was something that the Finance team was unaware of and the obvious answer was to go back to the original supplier, thus reducing the overall expenditure.

Having the opportunity for discussion between all levels of the business enabled a simple solution to be found which resulted in a benefit to Finance, Maintenance and more importantly the business overall.

How many staff grumble their views not being important?

Giving everyone in the business a stake in the decisions, and an opportunity to share  ideas and solutions provides a cohesive and impactful workforce.

Speaking truth to power can be daunting.  By taking steps to allow your staff to voice their thoughts and opinions in a constructive and collaborative way can only benefit everyone.

The NASA janitor knew his job wasn’t to launch the rocket – but by keeping the site clean, he knew it enabled others to focus on their role, thus his contribution was as important in NASA ultimate goal.






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