When President John F. Kennedy visited the headquarters of NASA at Cape Canaveral in Florida for the first time in 1961. As he toured the centre, he introduced himself to a cleaner who was mopping the floor and asked him what he did at the space centre. “I’m putting a man on the moon!” the cleaner replied. The cleaner had a role many might perceive as a lightyear away from the astronauts and rocket scientists who got all the headlines. But that cleaner understood the organisation’s purpose and the importance of his contribution to it. He understood that he was fulfilling an essential role within a large geographically dispersed multi-departmental organisation – an organisation with so many similar characteristics to Dimensions.
There is a similar story involving Sir Christopher Wren – the highly acclaimed architect whose masterpiece is St Paul’s Cathedral in London, completed in 1710. One day he walked unrecognised among those at work on building the cathedral and asked one workman what he was doing. “I am cutting a piece of stone,” was the reply. Then he asked another worker, who replied, “I am helping Sir Christopher Wren build a beautiful cathedral.” The second worker could see beyond the cutting of stone and saw the overall purpose of why the stones needed to be cut.
The same applies to all of us here at Dimensions – just as it applied to the Cape Canaveral cleaner and the St Paul’s stonemason. If I were to ask someone in Business Support – let’s say in Finance, for example – what they do, they could answer by referring to their role in sending invoices out, or in making sure we all get paid. Let’s be honest – both are essential roles that we can’t do without. Or they could say, “I’m making sure the people the Dimensions Group supports have great lives.” After all, this is why our organisation exists and this what we are all employed to do.
All our roles today within Dimensions are interdependent – just like they were at St Paul’s, and are today at NASA. Sure, the actual work of supporting people in their homes or out in the community is carried out every day around the clock by our fantastic operational colleagues. Their commitment and their efforts are absolutely fundamental to what we are all about.
Without their contribution we would not be the great support provider I believe we are. And yet those of our colleagues whose day-to-day contribution is as part of Business Support are no less involved and certainly no less important in ensuring that we can provide great support to people with learning disabilities and autism. Without them, none of us would be paid, we wouldn’t have access to IT (so important to what we do), or have our rights in the workplace upheld, or have the job security we do because we can convince local authorities to give us contracts. In fact, this list could go on and on.
We need to recognise and accept that in any organisation as large as we are, we don’t all have the same sense of belonging or loyalty to the ‘organisation’. Many colleagues joined us simply because a commissioner or a family decided we were the best organisation to provide support.
However, recognising that every one of us who works for Dimensions is making a vital contribution whatever their role is essential if we are to achieve our goal of providing great support for people with learning disabilities and autism. We are all reliant on each other wherever we work and whatever we do if we are to continue to achieve our goal – helping the people we support to have great lives.