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  • Writer's pictureRobert Stevenson

The Ripple Effect Principle


Robert Stevenson Blog - The Ripple Effect with a water droplet.

If you drop a pebble into a pond where the water is still, you will see a beautiful circular ripple motion take place where the stone entered the water. That one pebble sets in motion ripples that will affect the entire body of water. The same thing can happen in life, business, or organizations. One idea, thought, policy, gesture, example, statement, or extra effort can set forth a “Ripple Effect” that can forever change you, your company or organization for the better.


Several years ago, Alcoa Aluminum, the world’s leading producer of primary and fabricated aluminum, brought in a new plant manager at one of its many facilities. When driving up to the plant he had been assigned to on his first day in his new position, this new plant manager noticed that all the good parking spots by the front entrance had the names and titles of the so-called “important people” painted on them. The FIRST thing he did was contact the maintenance department and told them to paint over all the names and titles, his included.


This one decision sent ripples throughout the entire plant. This new manager instantly sent a message that everyone is important, every person matters, and extra effort deserved extra benefits; if you got to work early, then you got a great parking space. This one decision electrified the plant and had an amazing “Ripple Effect.”

People started showing up early and feeling they really mattered. Attitudes changed and better lines of communication opened up. The new manager wanted everyone to realize that management was there to support employees, increase efficiencies, mentor, advise, and assist … not demean or scare people. When you are manufacturing a product that involves handling 1220°F molten aluminum, every person is critical to the process. They were all in this together and one gesture by the new manager had just set the tone.


As a leader your job is to decide on which important things you need to be dealing with and what decisions you can make that will have the most positive “Ripple Effects” in your company. You need to understand that great “Ripple Effects” can sometimes occur with a few minor adjustments. You don’t have to always create radical changes when things aren’t going the way you want them to.


Smart bosses are “Ripple Makers.” They understand that one gesture, compliment, note of appreciation, or recognition given, can set forth a “Ripple Effect” that can forever change a person, company or organization for the better. Therefore, they are constantly setting positive ripples in motion.


Today, identify one thing you should concentrate on that will have a positive effect on you or your company and DO IT. The “Ripple Effect” Principle can work for anyone.


As Mother Teresa stated: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”


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