The first janitor in space.


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There is a famous story about President John F. Kennedy’s first visit to NASA’s headquarters back in 1961. While touring the facility, the President’s entourage reportedly came upon a man mopping the floor in one of the hallways. The President stopped to chat with the man, shook his hand, and asked what he did at NASA. The janitor proudly addressed the young President by saying, “Sir, I’m helping to put a man on the moon!”

This story illustrates the idea that everyone at NASA, regardless of his or her position, was in their own way contributing toward the ultimate mission of the organization. Is the same true in your company?

As managers, too often we’re tempted to treat team members or departments as “cogs in a bigger machine,” rather than allow them to share in the mission of the company (what we refer to as your “Brand Vision”). Too often our “greater purpose” never makes it beyond our executive suite (or worse, out of our own heads). By allowing everyone in the organization to take ownership of the Brand Vision and bring their own special “mojo” to it, it makes it much more likely the customers and prospects we deal with on a daily basis, regardless of where in the operation they reside, will see us as we intend them to.

The first step in building this camaraderie and getting buy-in from everyone in the organization is to share how your Brand Vision was arrived at, what it means to your customer, and why it is meaningful, unique and true. Then, turn your employees and departments loose in determining how they can contribute to the expression of the Brand Vision, and ultimately, how they can surprise and delight customers through fulfillment of the Brand Vision.

A few well-known examples that come to mind of companies that give their team members freedom in expressing the organization’s Brand Vision in their own unique way are Zappos (“Beyond-Exceptional Customer Service”) and Starbucks (“Welcoming”). A specific example of how one employee’s actions can elevate an entire organization comes from this previous post we had on Southwest Airlines.

Is knowing the mission of the organization is to put a man on the moon going to affect how a janitor mops a floor? Who knows. But just the fact that he felt a part of that mission surely paid benefits to NASA in some form, probably in a way that NASA management couldn’t have imagined.

The same can be true for just about any forward-thinking organization. Allowing employees and departments to determine for themselves how they can meaningfully bring the organization’s Brand Vision to life in their day-to-day dealings will unleash a collective creativity that will be inspiring to witness. Rewarding ideas and initiatives developed by staff, and sharing successes with all in your organization, are excellent ways management can perpetuate the growth and consistency of the Brand Vision.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mickey Lonchar
Mickey Lonchar has spent the better part of two decades creating award-winning advertising with agencies up and down the West Coast, Mickey currently holds the position of creative director with Quisenberry Marketing & Design, a full-service advertising and interactive shop with offices in Spokane and Seattle, Wash.


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