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I LOVE that story, apocryphal though it is. Snopes reports it as an unverified folk legend featuring Nicholas Tesla, Edison and many others: http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/where.asp. I first heard it in connection with 1880s railroad barons hiring an expert who borrowed a hammer to hit the boiler in one spot for the fix. Regardless of the veracity of the specific attribution, it is valid midrash that points to an eternal truth.

Excellent point, Jim. I should have "Snoped" this before posting it as reality, but thanks for clarifying in comments! Regardless, as you say, it serves as a powerful illustration of the importance of employee contributions. Like all good stories of this nature, I like to believe there is a kernel of truth that kicked it off.

The essential timeless truth of the lesson is certainly shown by its broad repetition in many forms. Work is done by people, not by jobs. An org chart may show context but is silent re the actual impact of the people whose skills are properly applied.

Such stories help ideas take shape, just like Santa Claus stories inspire Christmas generosity.

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