– Nell and a shovel

Nell and big shovel

This is Nell. She sent me this picture today, calling it “My Summer Job.” Until I wrote her a follow-up — “tell me more” — and got her answer, it seemed totally valid to me that Nell, as handy with power tools as she is with organizational consulting, would have a summer job operating construction equipment. Her whole family (mother, father, two brothers) is like that; they make, fix, solve, initiate, teach, and oversee. I met Nell through her mother, my friend “Jane G,” as I think of her. She and I — the two Janes — worked together, along with Nell, at The Albert Einstein Institution, an organization studying and promoting nonviolent actions run by visionary strategist Gene Sharp, in the late 1980s. Nell’s e-mail reminded me of two things I believe: (1) people who are in charge should be the people who know how to do the job, not just manage it; and (2) more people should know about Gene’s work in civilian-based defense and learn about the role of noncooperation and nonviolent strategies in diffusing or ending conflicts.


Note: Nell’s summer job was not in construction. Her family recently replaced the septic tank at their lake house.

2 thoughts on “– Nell and a shovel

  1. While reading Magoroh Maruyama, I discovered that it is typical in big Japanese corporations for new employees to receive their training by being rotated from job to job within the organization for several years — assembly line, retail stores, repair service runs — so when they do become managers they actually have some experience of doing what they’re managing.

    Imagine if colleges were run like that . . . or is it imaginable?

  2. Oh, I can imagine it. Maybe instead of a Take Your Daughter/Son to Work Day we should have a take-each-other-to-work day. I often complain about college cafeteria food — perhaps I should have to work as a prep or line cook for a day? Some people could shadow the staff in HR or Finance, and find out about all the mysterious processes there. The development people, who think the profs have it easy, should have to comment on a stack of papers or blue book exams, and the profs, who think the development people are only dollar-focused, should have a day of donor calls. And the president could try tutoring or counseling for a day, and perhaps we should all have a turn with a vacuum or wrench or snowplow.

    Sign me up.

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