Real Work

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Going into a factory is always a good reminder for me that there are people in the US who stand by a machine for eight hours and that there are still “first line” supervisors and that a lot of workers still get “breaks”. You know, breaks that go from 10 – 10:15 in the morning. Sometimes we forget that not everyone works in a cubicle with a computer blinking in front of them.

When I say the word “factory” I mean something goes in the front door and something better comes out the back door and hard working people are involved in between. Those hard working people can’t drink coffee all day because they are on their feet all day and need their hands to keep the lines going. When they do get to the coffee machines, there is no fresh half-and-half, just Cremora with a plastic spoon sticking out of the top of the plastic bottle. And they make $8.00 an hour.

I toured a plant recently where rice cakes were being made. People worked hard and were proud of their work. The managers were trying to improve the performance of the plant and respect the work of the people at the same time. They were all trying to grow the company. No one was worrying about conference call technologies or whether the company would support their blackberry. They wanted a fair days wage for a fair days work and some sense of security if they contributed. It was good to see.

Sometimes we forget that organizations and people are still out there like this. Tom Peters was right when he said something like, “Business isn’t hard. You make stuff and you sell stuff.” He was right and for those of us who spend time in nice offices with all kinds of technology, we are lucky.

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