That BMW you own, it isn’t really a BMW.
You see, an average gas-powered car has about 30,000 parts. The parts come from about 4,000 different vendors.
The manufacturer of your car, whatever brand of car you drive, only creates a very small amount of the 30,000 car parts. Their job is less “manufacturing” and more about assembling all the parts together in the correct way.
They are, in a sense, less the equivalent of a manufacturer like IKEA and more like an IKEA furniture assembler, assuming your Ikea furniture has 30,000 parts and weighs two tons.
Genuinely Take For Granted
To add to the confusion, when you bring your car in for service, your dealership’s service department is probably touting that they use “genuine” parts for repairs.
That, my friend, is a bunch of baloney balls.
“Genuine” parts are actually the same exact third-party vendor parts that were used in your car in the first place, except the vendor may have stamped your car manufacturer’s logo on it to justify the “genuine” mumbo-jumbo.
We take for granted that our car parts come from our car’s manufacturer. But they don’t. Heck, the battery alone may require 8 different vendors to create it.
You may have heard of OEM car parts. It stands for “Original Equipment Manufacturer”. They are less expensive than the “genuine” parts. However, they are the exact. same. part. as the “genuine” part
Same exact item, same exact materials, same exact vendor as the “genuine” parts.
Interesting how we take for granted that the car manufacturer is the car manufacturer, right?
I thought so too.
What We Take For Granted in Giza
I’m sure you’ve heard of the Great Pyramids of Giza. I’m a bit fascinated by them and could ramble on ad nauseam about their architecture, astronomy and aliens until you thwack me upside the face. But that’s an entirely different kettle of corn.
As you may know, each of the three Pyramids is named after the Pharaoh who built it:
But the truth of the matter is that none of the Pharaohs actually built the pyramids. You know this, I know this, but we still take it for granted in the same way that Steve Jobs gets credit for building the iPhone but we all know he only played an infinitesimal part in the work-hours needed to create it.
The pyramids (and the iPhone, for that matter) were built on the backs of thousands of paid laborers (no, slaves didn’t build the pyramids). None of these laborers got any credit. There are no names that have been etched in history to celebrate their efforts.
They were the nameless, faceless, unsung heroes who changed the world one multi-ton stone at a time. We’ve taken them for granted
Oh, and guess what…
Rihanna doesn’t write the vast majority of her songs. Same with Whitney Houston. They mostly just sang songs that were written by other people.
When you say how much you love that Rihanna or Whitney song, it’s like saying “I love BMWs” when most of what makes up what you love is not actually from BMW. Or Whitney. Or RiRi.
I’m not saying Rihanna, Whitney and the car companies shouldn’t get credit for what they do. They absolutely should. I’m just saying that there’s a whole network of others that we take for granted who are critical in enabling the superstars to be superstars.
The Humdrum Reality of Innovation
A recent survey found that 79% of employees feel like they are being taken advantage of by their managers.
One-third of employees say they rarely or never receive praise from their manager, and 75% of employees say they don’t receive praise from their colleagues.
In fact, the #1 reason why people leave jobs is due to a lack of gratitude in the workplace.
The reality, though, is that innovation happens in the daily grind of the ho-hum. Companies grow and businesses transform because of the work done by the faceless masses.
It is the random teacher who discovers a unique way to explain a complex concept to their students and, in so doing, changes the world.
It is the lowly finance manager who stumbles upon a simple solution to save money and, in so doing, catapults the company’s growth.
It is the warehouse worker who rearranges the inventory and, in so doing, dramatically improves operational efficiency and customer support.
Similarly, there are nearly 150,000 people who work at BMW to bring each car from the factory to the streets.
Without those people, there isn’t a car company. Without 4,000 vendors, there isn’t a car.
Those are the people that we take for granted.
And that’s my point.
The Heroes We Take For Granted
We love the heroes.
We adore the superstars who soar far above the lowly lives of us mere mortals. We put people like Steve Jobs and Elon Music and Henry Ford on these massive pedestals of celebrity.
Yet we take for granted the masses of shoulders on which the celebrities stand.
The real superstars are the people who do the work, day in and day out, to build the product, to design the ad, to write the song and keep the company moving forward.
They aren’t always glamorous. They aren’t always looking for fame or stardom. They just keep showing up and moving forward, inch by inch, one day after the next.
True progress happens where status quo is the status quo.
The spotlight rarely shines on the worker who stays late to perfect a process or the employee who goes the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction.
There’s rarely a “thank you”.
It’s just called “work”.
So maybe it’s time to take a moment today to appreciate somebody who never gets the heroic recognition of the spotlight. Let them know that what they do means something – not just for the company, but for the customers and for the world.
While their contributions might not make headlines, their efforts breed change.
Their name may not be celebrated in the headlines of history any more than those pyramid builders, but their daily dedication and downright resilience are the real engine that drives our world forward.
Let’s not take them for granted.