Ross A. Hill: A Story About Ownership

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Story About Ownership

An older carpenter told his employer that he "wanted to leave the house-building business
and live a more leisurely life enjoying his family". He would "miss the paycheck, but he
needed to retire".

The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one
more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that
his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior

When the carpenter finished his work the employer came to inspect the house. He handed
the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "My gift to you!" The
carpenter was shocked! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own
house, he would have done it all so differently.

This story is about “ownership” and the way we treat things that we care about better that
the ones we do not care about. If all employees had an ownership attitude – if they had a
stake in outcomes - many of the challenges we face in productivity and efficiency would

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