Spiritual Adventures in the Workplace

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Pet Milk Lesson 3

In my last post I told you about the crisis that the Pet Milk Company faced when John Meyenberg resigned.  He was the man who had come up with the idea for evaporated milk, and he was therefore the one most likely to solve the spoilage problem that had arisen.  Now upper management had to figure out what to do.

As it turned out, a member of the Board of Directors was a farmer with a college degree… in chemistry, of all things.  His name was Louis Latzer, and he knew it was up to him to solve this problem.  With the help of a local physician, he began studying the chemical composition of milk, as well as what happens structurally to milk when it is cooked and canned.

Louis Latzer (from A Portrait of Progress, facing p. i)

Louis Latzer (from A Portrait of Progress, facing p. i)

No easy answers emerged.  There was no single cause of the problem but rather a number of things that could go wrong in the process of producing evaporated milk.  Latzer became the company’s “milk chemistry” expert, well acquainted with the many ways that spoilage could occur and full of ideas for preventing it.  Two years into the company’s history, the Board of Directors elected Latzer president.

Pet Milk Lesson 3: Even though the organization takes on a life of its own, individuals within it can make a big difference.

Louis Latzer’s honest, methodical way of dealing with the crisis not only saved the company but also set a standard for the rest of the employees.  This is how corporate cultures are created—not by slogans but by deeds.  Each individual contributes to the organization’s total makeup, for better or for worse.  Some people have a chance to influence the company in big ways.  Louis Latzer was one of those people.

But the Pet Milk Company had more hurdles ahead, far more difficult than the spoilage problem.  The next issue would have nothing to do with chemistry.

(To be continued…)

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