Have you ever heard the story about the people busting up rocks? Ask the first person and they respond, "I'm breaking up rocks." Ask the second person and they respond, "I'm making a living." Ask the third person and they respond, "I'm building a castle." I most recently heard this story at the Smart Start Conference that I attended a couple weeks ago. It was during a session on task management which I attended just to see how the session might compare with the GTD methodology that I am currently implementing. Back to the story, it demonstrates several things and as a manager, it is supposed to help you recognize the kind of person you want to hire.
Another thing I see in it is whether there is alignment with vision. We frequently hear about how important it is to get all of your systems, plans, and people in alignment with the vision of an organization. Now to yesterday afternoon when I was watching a show on the National Geographic Channel called Ultimate Factories. In this particular episode, they were visiting the Ferrari factory in Italy to see how they build their new model, the 599. Near the beginning of the episode, they were showing how they make the molds for the engine blocks and then melt the special metal (an aluminum alloy) to prepare it for pouring into the mold. They interviewed one of the foundry workers who is responsible for this and he stated (to paraphrase) - it is very important to get it exactly right. The slightest flaw might mean it cannot support a car that goes over 200 mph.
Talk about great alignment and understanding with the vision of Ferrari. This foundry work is a real life example of the hypothetical rock buster. Even though he has what might seem like a somewhat menial job, he understands that he is not just melting metal or making a living - he is helping to bring to life a spectacular vehicle that relies on him doing his job right.
After watching the rest of the show, I can perhaps understand why. According to the show, the Ferrari factory is considered one of the best places to work at in Europe. One of the facilities has trees growing inside and a glass roof to let in natural light for the works. Another scene showed the seamstresses who had been working on the interior parts delivering them in a scene reminiscent of a mini-parade. Think of the teams arriving at a check in The Amazing Race. It is obvious that Ferrari understands that they need to provide the right tools, resources and environment for their employees to succeed. And with the success of their employees, their product and company succeeds as well.