Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day 

Labor Day in the US is a strange holiday. It is the traditional end of smmer and day before back to school for reluctant children, but it was never intended to be that. In 1882, it was founded as a day off to honor the working man, the laborer and craft skills worker. The original meaning of the holiday has mutated.

What happened to Labor Day is a reminder to communicators that words and events have to be reconnected to their original meanings constantly or they change over time. One has to remind others "why we are here." The Jewish Passover question, "Why is this night different from all other nights?" is an example of reconnection from long ago. The need to remind is especially true for mission statements and statements of purpose. Both are largely forgotten in daily activity. One task of the CEO is to drive home the original purpose of the organization through constant chatter about it. "We're a customer-driven organization. We're here for customers. We start with customer focus. The customer is always right." Sometimes the repetition is annoying but employees can never say they didn't know or they forgot.

Perhaps Labor Day will return someday to its original meaning. I doubt it. Once understanding changes, it is hard to return to original intent.


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