Another way to say it is that these are the people in an organization who are “in the trenches”.
They are doing the hardest or most important work.
I would like to find a non-militaristic way of saying the same thing, but am having trouble finding a good one.
My goal is to find ways to describe the value of these people in an organization in contrast to those in roles removed from the core business (for example, administration, which is also important but is not the reason for the existence of the organization).
In this specific case, the core business is education and military metaphors don’t seem appropriate.
Another close alternative could be: “where the rubber meets the road”, but that’s not quite it either.
Yet another recently discovered possibility, but not commonly understood is:
Genba (現場, also romanized as gemba) is a Japanese term meaning "the actual place". Japanese detectives call the crime scene genba, and Japanese TV reporters may refer to themselves as reporting from genba. In business, genba refers to the place where value is created; in manufacturing the genba is the factory floor. It can be any "site" such as a construction site, sales floor or where the service provider interacts directly with the customer.
Source: Gemba, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Gemba&oldid=871163314 (last visited Dec. 13, 2018)
which was originally quoted from:
- Imai, Masaaki (1997). Gemba kaizen: a commonsense low-cost approach to management. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-07-031446-7.