July 24; Big Changes Can Result From The Smallest Improvements
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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Chapter Seven: Power; 24 July

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed,

you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’

and it will obey you.

Luke 17:5-6

Big Changes Can Result From The Smallest Improvements

Insignificant?

If it moves–salute it.

If it doesn’t move–paint it.

My dad spent a career as a non-commissioned officer in the Navy, which meant he was an expert in oil-based paints. The old salts would battle the effects of salt water and iron and the resulting rust. It was more than cosmetic; the chemical action could rot the boat away.

The rust and old paint would be chipped away and the entire vessel would be one long painting project. All seamen are boat painters.

This was standard operating procedure until one sailor complained and another listened. Big changes are often in the nuts and bolts that hold an organization, or a warship together.

D. Michael Abrashoff was the Commanding Officer of USS Benfold and asked his men what they would like to change…

***

Someone once wrote to Ann Landers, the advice columnist, asking why she often answered a question with another question. Landers, replied, “Why not?”

***

..A sailor answered his CO’s question with a question, as Abrashoff recounts the story,

“Captain, have you ever painted your home?”

“Sure,” I replied.

“It’s not fun, is it?” the sailor asked.

“No, it’s not,” I said warily, “What’s your point?”

The sailor explained. The bolts and fittings are made from ferrous metals, which would rust and discolor the ship’s finish. (An ounce of appearance is worth a pound of performance.) The sailor recommended non-ferrous fittings that require less maintenance. His idea was pushed up the org chart, was adopted and now done throughout the Navy.

This is how a chain of command works: complaints go up; praise goes down (and not so much the reverse).

The entire ship didn’t need the attention. Just a few nuts.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. Luke 17:5-6.

###

Retention Through Redemption, article in Harvard Business Review, February 2001, page 138, D. Michael Abrashoff, Commanding Officer, USS Benfold listened to a seaman’s suggestion.

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