Increasing Efficiency In Business
Walter Dill Scott

Part 4 out of 6

and of employers of labor in particular, is to
train up the rising generations so that they
may make the best use of the increasing hours
of freedom from labor.

To this end the schools are doing much.
Settlement workers are contributing their
part. Welfare work is becoming popular in
certain places. Local clubs are being organized
to develop interest in local improvement,
literature, politics, ethics, religion, music,
athletics. These agencies are so beneficial
in results that they are being generously
encouraged by business men.

_Upon entering business every young man
should select some form of endeavor or activity
apart from business to which he shall devote a
part of his attention. This interest should be so_

_absorbing that when he is thus engaged, business
is banished from mind_.

This interest may be a home and a family;
it may be some form of athletics; it may be
club life; it may be art, literature, philanthropy,
or religion. It must be something
which appeals to the individual and is adapted
to his capabilities. Some men find it advisable
to have more than a single interest for the
hours of recreation. Some form of athletics
or of agriculture is often combined with an
interest in art, literature, religion, or other
intellectual form of recreation. Thus Gladstone
is depicted as a woodchopper and as an
author of Greek works. Carnegie is described
as an enthusiast in golf and in philanthropy.
Rockefeller is believed to be interested in golf
and philanthropy, but his philanthropy takes
the form of education through endowed schools.
Carnegie's philanthropy is in building libraries.
If the lives of the great business men
are studied it will be found that there is a
great diversity in the type of recreation chosen;
but philanthropy, religion, and athletics are

very prominent--perhaps the most popular
of the outside interests.

These interests cannot be suddenly acquired.
Many a man who has reached the years of
maturity has found to his sorrow that he is
without interests in the world except his specialty
or business. With each succeeding year
he finds new interests more difficult to acquire.
Hence young men should in their youth
choose wisely some interests to which they
may devote themselves with perfect abandon
at more or less regular intervals throughout

The more noble and the more worthy the
interest, the better will be the results when
considered from any point of view. Indeed,
the interests which we call the highest are
properly so designated, because in the history
of mankind they have proved themselves to be
the most beneficial to all.



NO novice develops suddenly into an
expert. Nevertheless the progress
made by beginners is often astounding.
The executive with experience is
not deceived by the showing made by new
men. He has learned to accept rapid initial
progress, but he does not assume that this
initial rate of increase will be sustained.

The rate at which skill is acquired has been
the subject of many careful studies. The results
have been charted and reduced to curves,
variously spoken of as ``efficiency curves,''
``practice curves,'' ``learning curves,'' according
to the nature of the task or test. Some of
these dealt with the routine work of office and
factory. In others typical muscular and mental
activities were observed in a simpler form
than could be found in actual practice.

Five of my advanced students joined me in
strenuous practice in adding columns of figures
for a few minutes daily for a month. Our
task was to add 765 one-place figures daily in
the shortest possible time. No emphasis was
placed on accuracy, but each one tried to make

{illust. caption = FIG. 1.}

the highest daily record for speed. The
results of our practice are graphically shown in
Curve A of Fig. 1. As shown in that curve
for the first day our average speed was only
forty-two combinations per minute, but for the
thirtieth day our average was seventy-four
combinations per minute, We did not quite

double our speed by the practice, and we made
but little improvement in accuracy. The most
rapid gain was, as anticipated, during the first
few days. We made but little progress from
the sixteenth to the twenty-third day, and
also from the twenty-fourth to the thirtieth

Of the six persons practicing addition, five
of us also practiced the making of a maximum
grip with a thumb and forefinger. Just before
beginning the adding each day this maximum
grip (or pinch) was exerted once a second for
sixty seconds, first with the right hand and
then with the left. Likewise at the completion
of the addition sixty grips were taken by
the right hand and sixty by the left. The total
pressure exerted by each individual in the 240
trials (four minutes) was then recorded and
expressed in kilograms. The result of the
experiment is shown in curve B of Fig. 1.
The average total pressure for each of the
five persons was for the first day 620 kilograms;
for the twenty-fourth day 1400 kilograms.
Our increase was very rapid for the

first few days, and no general slump was encountered
till the last week of practice. In
one particular our results in the test on physical
strength were not anticipated--we did not
suppose that by practicing four minutes daily
for thirty days we could double our physical
strength in any such a series of maximum
grips with the thumb and forefinger.

It is a simple matter to measure day by day
the accomplishment of one learning to use the
typewriter. All beginners who take the work
seriously and work industriously pass through
similar stages in this learning process. Figure
2 represents the record for the first eighty-
six days of a learner who was devoting, in all,
sixty minutes daily to actual writing. The
numbers to the left of the figure in the vertical
column indicate the number of strokes (including
punctuations and shifts) made in ten
minutes. The numbers on the base line indicate
the days of practice. Thus on the ninth
day the learner wrote 700 strokes in the ten
minutes; on the fifty-fourth day 1300 strokes;
on the eighty-sixth day over 1400 strokes.

Figure 3 represents the results of a writer
of some little experience who spent one hour a
day writing a special form of copy.

In this curve it will be observed that the

{illust. caption = FIG. 2.}

increase in efficiency was very great during
the first few weeks, but that during the
succeeding weeks little improvement was
made.--BOOK, W. R, ``The Psychology of
Skill,'' p. 20.

The progress of a telegraph operator is
determined by the number of words which he

{illust. caption = FIG. 3.}

can send or receive with accuracy per minute.
In learning telegraphy, progress is rapid for a
few weeks and then follow many weeks of less
rapid improvement. Figure 4 presents the

history of a student of telegraphy who was
devoting all his time to sending and receiving
messages. His speed was measured once a
week from his first week to the time when he

{illust. caption = FIG. 4.}

could be classed as a fully accomplished operator.
By the twentieth week this operator
could receive less than 70 letters a minute,
although he could send over 120 letters a minute.
At the end of the fortieth week he had

reached a speed of sending which he would
probably never greatly excel even though
his speed was far below that attained by many
operators. The receiving rate might possibly
rise either slowly or rapidly until it equaled
or exceeded the sending rate.--BRYAN &
HARTER, ``Studies in the Physiology and Psychology
of the Telegraphic Language,'' _Psychological
Review_, Vol. IV, p. 49.

There are certain forms of learning and
practice which do not readily admit of quantitative
determinations. Nevertheless very successful
attempts have been made even in the
most difficult realms of learning. A beginner
with the Russian language spent 30 minutes
daily in industrious study and then was tested
for 15 minutes as to the number of Russian
words he could translate. Figure 5 shows
diagrammatically the results of the experiment.
Thus on the thirteenth day 22 words
were translated; on the fiftieth day 45 words.
Improvement was rather rapid until the nineteenth
day, and then followed a slump till the
forty-sixth day. Improvement was very ir-

regular.--SWIFT, E. J., ``Mind in the Making,''
p. 198.

These five figures are typical of nearly all

{illust. caption = FIG. 5.}

practice, or learning, curves. They depict the
rate at which the beginner increases his
efficiency. In every case we discover very great

fluctuations. On one day or at one moment
there is a sudden phenomenal improvement.
The next day or even the next moment the
increase may be lost and a return made to a
lower stage of efficiency.

There are certain forms of skill which cannot
be acquired rapidly in the beginning. In
such instances a period of time is necessary
in which to ``warm up'' or in which to acquire
the knack of the operation or the necessary
degree of familiarity and self-confidence before
improvement becomes possible. This is
true particularly in the ``breaking in'' of new
operators on large machines like steam hammers,
cranes, and the like, where the mass and
power of the machine awes the new man, even
though he has had experience with smaller
units of some kind. It applies also to new
inspectors of mechanical parts and completed
products in factories--especially where the
factor of judgment enters into the operation.
Such instances are exceptions, however, and
differ from those cited only in having a period of
slow advance preliminary to the rapid progress.

Apparently, improvement should be continuous
until the learner has entered into the
class of experts or has reached his possible
maximum. As a matter of fact the curve
which expresses his advance towards efficiency
never rises steadily from a low degree to a high
one. Periods of improvement are universally
followed by stages of stagnation or retrogression.
These periods of little or no improvement
following periods of rapid improvement
are called ``plateaus'' and are found in the experience
of all who are acquiring skill in any

These plateaus are not all due to the same

They differ somewhat with individuals and
even more with the nature of the task in which
skill is being acquired. With all, however, the
following four factors are the most important

1. _The enthusiasm dependent upon novelty
becomes exhausted_.

2. _All easy improvements have been made_.

3. _A period of ``incubation'' is needed in_

_which the new habits under formation may
have time to develop_.

4. _Voluntary attention cannot be sustained
for a long period of time_.

These four factors are not only the causes
of the first plateau, but, as soon as any
particular plateau is overcome and advance
again begun, they are likely to arrest the advance
and to cause another period of recession
or of no advance. These four factors
are therefore most significant to every man
who is trying to increase his own efficiency or
promote the progress of others.

_When the interest in work is dependent on
novelty, the plateau comes early in the development,
and further progress is possible only by the
injection of new motives to action_.

Many young persons begin things with enthusiasm,
but drop them when the novelty has
worn off. They develop no stable interests
and in all their tasks are superficial. They
often have great potential ability, but lack
training in habits of industry and of continued
application. They change positions

often, acquire much diversified experience,
and frequently, in a new position, give promise
of developing unusual skill or ability. This
is due to the fact that during the first weeks or
months of their new employment the novelty
of the work stimulates them to activity, and the
methods or habits learned in other trades are
available for application to the new tasks.
When the novelty wears off, however, they
become wearied and cast about for a fresh and
therefore more alluring field. Such nomads
prove unprofitable employees even when they
are the means of introducing new methods or
short cuts into a business. They strike a
plateau and lose interest and initiative just
at the point where more industrious and less
superficial men would begin to be of the
greatest value.

Plateaus are not confined to clerks and other
subordinates. Executives frequently ``go
stale'' on their jobs and lose their accustomed
energy and initiative. Sometimes they are
able to diagnose their own condition and
provide the corrective stimulus. Again the

man higher up, if he has the wisdom and
discernment which some gain from experience,
observes the situation and prescribes
for his troubled lieutenant. In the majority
of cases, however, the occupant of a
plateau, if he continues thereon for any
length of time, either resigns despondent or
is dismissed.

Such a case, coming under my notice recently,
illustrates the man-losses suffered by
organizations whose heads do not realize that
salaries alone will not buy efficiency.

A young advertising man had almost grown
up with his house, coming to it when not yet
twenty in a minor position in the sales department.
Enthusiastic about his possibilities,
with the friendship and coperation of
his immediate superior, he carried out well the
successive duties put to him. Promotion was
rapid. No position was retained more than
six months. In five years he had occupied
nearly every subordinate position in the sales
department, and was promoted to the head of
the mail-order section.

His fertility in originating plans, his schemes,
his booklets, and advertising copy brought
results with regularity. He became known as
a man who could ``put the thing over'' in a
pinch, with a vigor and enthusiasm that
seemed irresistible. He fairly earned his
standing as the live wire among executives
of the second rank.

So, when the general sales manager resigned,
there was no question but that this young man
should succeed him. He had been a personal
friend of his predecessor, had coperated with
him in many phases of his work, and knew his
new duties well; in fact, he took them up with
little necessity for ``breaking in.''

This apparently favorable condition was the
very reason for his lack of success in the new
work. There was not the novelty in this position
that there had been in his former successive
positions. In such an executive position,
it was not a question of taking care of an emergency
demand, but of organization, of establishing
routine, of organizing bigger campaigns.
Before the end of the first season it became evi-

dent that the new sales manager was not making
good. Everything--organization, discipline,
routine system, ginger--had deserted
him. Neither he himself nor his employers,
however, found the real cause. ``I have lost
my grip,'' he told the general manager. ``I
am worn out and of no further use to this

Furthermore he thought he was of no use
to any business. But he made a connection
with a big house which had a large advertising
campaign on its hands. He threw himself
into the task of recasting the firm's selling
literature, the planning of new campaigns,
and the reorganization of the correspondence
department. Within the year, he had duplicated
on a magnified scale his early triumphs
with his first employers. Moreover, he continued
this record of efficiency the second year,
thus entirely refuting the fear of himself
and his friends that he would ``last less
than a year'' and that he lacked staying

His first employer described the case for me

the other day, requesting that I discover the
reason for the young man's initial failure among
friends and his subsequent triumph in a new
environment. He had kept in close touch with
the other's progress and supplied a hundred
details which helped to make the situation
clear. Finally, after consideration, he agreed
with my diagnosis that his young friend's
falling off in efficiency--his plateau--had
been due to the exhaustion of novelty interest
in his work.

His first success was built on a long series
of separate plans or ``stunts,'' each of which
was begun and executed in a burst of creative
enthusiasm. His first few months' achievement
as sales manager was due to the same
stimulus, but as the months went by the spur
of novelty became dulled. Lacking the discipline
which would have enabled him to
force voluntary attention and the resulting
interest in his tasks, he failed also to trace the
cause of his flagging invention and energy and
assumed that this was due to exhaustion of his

This is further borne out by his experience
in his present position. Addressing a succession
of new tasks, the interest of novelty has
stimulated him to an uncommon degree and
produced an unbroken record of high efficiency.
That this has continued over a considerable
period is partly due, beyond doubt, to the
sustained interest in his work excited by the
broadness of the field before him, the bigness
of the company, the size of the appropriation
at his disposal, the unusual experience of scoring
hit after hit by comparison with the
house's low standards, the frank and prompt
appreciation of his superiors, and substantial
advances in salary.

It is only human to be more or less dependent
upon novelty. If I am to stir myself to continuous
and effective exertion, I must frequently
stimulate my interest by proposing new
problems and new aspects of my work. If
I am to help others to increase their efficiency,
I must devise new appeals to their interest and
new stimulations to action. If I have been
dependent upon competition as a stimulus

I must change the form of the contest--a
fact which receives daily recognition and
application by the most efficient sales organization
in the country. If I have been depending
upon the stimulating effect of wages,
there is profit occasionally in varying the
method of payment or in furnishing some new
concrete measure of the value of the wage. To
the average worker, for example, a check means
much less than the same amount in gold. In
deference to this common appreciation of
``cold cash,'' various firms have lately abandoned
checks and pay in gold and banknotes,
even though this change means many hours
of extra work for the cashier.

_At every stage of our learning, progress is aided
by the utilization of old habits and old fragments
of knowledge_.

In learning to add, the schoolboy employs
his previous knowledge of numbers. In learning
to multiply he builds upon his acquaintance
with addition and subtraction. In solving
problems in percentage his success is
measured by the freedom with which he can

use the four fundamental processes of addition,
subtraction, Multiplication, and division. In
computing bank discount, his skill is based on
ability to employ his previous experience with
percentage and the fundamental processes of

The advance here is typical of all learning
processes. In mastering the typewriter no
absolutely new movement is required. The
old familiar movements of arm and hand are
united in new combinations. The student has
previously learned the letters found in the copy
and can identify them upon the keys of the
typewriter. Scrutiny enables him to find any
particular key, and in the course of a few hours
be develops a certain awkward familiarity with
the keyboard and acquires some speed by
utilizing these familiar muscular movements
and available bits of knowledge. All these
prelearned movements and associations are
brought into service in the early stages of
improvement, and a degree of proficiency is
quickly attained which cannot be exceeded
so long as these prelearned habits and asso-

ciations alone are employed. Further advance
in speed and accuracy is dependent
upon combinations more difficult to make
because they involve organization of the old
and acquisition of new methods of thought or
movement. When such a difficulty is faced, a
plateau in the learning curve is almost inevitable.

The young man who enters upon the work
of a salesman can make immediate use of a
multitude of previous habits and previously
acquired bits of knowledge. He performs by
habit all the ordinary movements of the body;
by habit he speaks, reads, and writes. During
his previous experience he has acquired some
skill in judging people, in addressing them, and
in influencing them. His general information
and his practice in debate and conversation--
however crude--enable him to analyze his
selling proposition and unite these selling
points into an argument. He learns, too, to
avoid certain errors and to make use of certain
factors of his previous experience. Thus
his progress is rapid for a short time but soon

the stage is reached where his previous experience
offers no more factors which can be easily
brought to his service. In such an emergency
the novice may cease to advance--if indeed
there is not a positive retrogression.

Nor is this tendency to strike a plateau
confined to clerks in the office and to semi-
skilled men in the factory. Often the limitations
of a new executive are brought out
sharply by his failure to handle a situation
much less difficult than scores which he has
already mastered and thereby built up a reputation
for unusual efficiency. His collapse,
when analyzed, can usually be traced to the
fact that his previous experience contained
nothing on which he could directly base a
decision. His prior efficiency was based on
empirical knowledge rather than on judgment
or ability to analyze problems.

The office manager of an important mercantile
house is a case in point. Though
young, he had served several companies in
the same capacity, making a distinct advance
at each change. He was a trained accountant,

a clever employment man, and a successful
handler of men and women. His association
with the various organizations from which he
had graduated gave him an unusual fund of
practical knowledge and tried-out methods to
draw upon.

His first six months were starred with brilliant
detail reorganizations. The shipping
department, first; the correspondence division
next; the accounting department third, and he
literally swept through the office like the
proverbial new broom, caught up all the loose
ends, and established a routine like clockwork.
So successful was his work that the directors
hastened to add supervision of sales and collections.

Forthwith the new manager struck his
plateau. His previous experience offered little
he could readily use in shaping a sales policy
or laying out a collection program. He
plunged into the details of both, effected some
important minor economies, but failed altogether
--as subsequent events showed--to
grasp the constructive needs and opportunities

of management. He puzzled and irritated his
district managers by overemphasizing details
when they wanted decisions or policies or
help in handling sales emergencies. In the
same way, he neglected collections,--chiefly
because he could not distinguish between
detail and questions of policy,--but escaped
blame for more than six months because the
season was conceded to be a poor one.

Not till he resigned and the general manager
investigated the sales and collection departments
did the real cause of the failure become
evident. Important and numerous as had
been the economics instituted, they all fell
under the head of the ``easy improvements ''
based on previous experience and observation.
When problems outside this experience presented
themselves, the manager encountered
his plateau.

In the acquisition of skill, days of progress
are followed by stationary periods. ``Time
must be taken out'' to allow the formation of a
habit or the organization of this new knowledge
or skill.

All trees and plants have periods of growth
followed by periods of little or no growth. In
May and June the leaves and branches shoot
forth very rapidly, but the new growth is
pulpy and tender. During succeeding days
or months, these tender shots are filled in and
developed. In learning and in habit formation
a similar sequence is lived through. We
have days of swift advancement followed by
days in which the new stage or method of
thinking and acting takes time to become
organized and solidified. The nervous system
has to adjust itself to the new demands, and
such adjusting requires time.

Although periods of incubation are essential
for every specific habit, practically every act
of skill is dependent upon a number of simpler
habits. At any one time progress may be made
in utilizing some of these habits, even though
others could not be advantageously hastened.
Thus the period of incubation should not
necessarily cause any profound slump in the
advance. Almost invariably, however, it produces
a plateau which persists until the worker

has mastered the expert way. The golf
player, for example, usually finds he is able
to drive longer and straighter balls at the beginning
of the season than a little later. The
reason is that in golf the perfect stroke is the
product of almost automatic muscular action.
In the first round the swing of the driver or
iron is not consciously governed, and the muscular
habit of the previous year controls.
Later, as the player concentrates on his task
of correcting little faults or learning more
effective methods, his stroke loses its automatic
quality, his game falls off, and it is not
until he masters his new form that he attains
high efficiency.

The same cycle is repeated in office and factory
operations, where efficiency is possible
only when the hands carry out automatically
the desired action. In typewriting and telegraphy,
in the handling of adding machines,
in the feeding of drill presses, punch presses,
and hundreds of special machines, the learner
passes through three distinct phases: first,
swift improvement in which prelearned move-

ments and skill are brought to bear on the task
under the stimulus of both novelty interest and
voluntary interest; second, arrested progress--
the period of incubation or habit formation; and
the final stage of automatic skill and efficiency.

_Since increase of efficiency is dependent upon
continued efforts of will, slumps are inevitable.
Voluntary attention cannot be sustained for a
long period_.

Work requiring effort is always subject
to fluctuations. The man with a strong will
may make the lapses in attention relatively
short. He may be on his guard and ``try to
try'' most faithfully, but no exertion of the will
can keep up a steady expenditure of effort in
any single activity. All significant _*increases_
in efficiency, however, are dependent upon
voluntary attention--upon extreme exertions
of the will.

No man can develop into an expert without
great exertion of the will. Such exertions of
the will are recognized by authorities as being
very exhaustive and unstable. One of the
greatest of the authorities and one who in

particular has emphasized the necessity of
a ``do-or-die'' attitude of work concludes his
discussion with the following significant admission:
``All this suggests that if one wants
to improve at the most rapid rate, he must
work when he can feel good and succeed, then
lounge and wait until it is again profitable to
work. It is when all the conditions are favorable
that the forward steps or new adaptations
are made.''

Voluntary attention must be employed in
making the advance step, in improving our
method of work, and in making any sort of
helpful changes. But voluntary attention
must not be depended upon to secure steady
and continuous utilization of the improved
method or rate of work. To secure this end,
an attempt should be made to reduce the
work to habit so far as possible and also to secure
spontaneous interest either from interest
and pleasure in the work itself or because of
the reward to be received.

The case of the young sales manager, described
in the first part of this article, suggests

some of the methods by which this interest
can be secured. The chief factor in his progress
was the interest in the work itself due to
the novelty of his successive tasks--an element
impossible to introduce into the average
man's job. Yet there were other and powerful
motives stimulating his interest: the responsibility
of organizing a big department and of
directing the expenditure of large sums of
money; the prompt credit given him and the
growing confidence extended to him; and the
expression of their appreciation in the concrete
shape of salary increases.

It is quite true that these various stimulating
factors cannot be produced indefinitely;
tasks must ``stale,'' praise grow monotonous,
salaries touch their top level. But ``making
good'' and finding interests in work crystallize
into habits which endure as long as conditions
remain fair. The rise of the efficiency curve
thus depends upon recurrent periods of successful
struggle followed by periods of habit
formation and by the development of powerful
spontaneous interests.

Voluntary interest is a valuable thing to
possess, but a difficult thing to secure either
within ourselves or in those under our charge.

In its psychological aspect, scientific
management enters here. By working out and
establishing a standard method and standard
time for various ``repeat'' operations a workman
is engaged in, it encourages--and even
enforces--the formation of new efficiency
habits. The bonus paid for the accomplishment
of the task in the specified time supplies
an immediate and powerful motive to the effort
necessary to master the ``right way'' of doing

In the main, employees do their best to acquire
efficiency; but their humanness must
not be forgotten, and the burden of increasing
efficiency must be carried largely by the executive.
His part it is to supply interest, if
the nature of the work forbids the finding of
it there, he must introduce it from outside
either by competition, by emphasizing the
connection between the task and the reward,
as in piecework, or by provision of a bonus

for the achievement of a certain standard of

He must eliminate the factors in environment
or organization which distract employees
and make voluntary interest more difficult.
He must provide the means of training and
must understand the possibilities and the
limitations of training. If a man ``slumps''
in efficiency, he must look for the cause and
make sure this is not beyond the man's control
before he punishes him. In a word, he must
allow for periods of incubation or unconscious
organization before expecting maximum results
from a new employee or an old man assigned
to a new job.

_The man who by persistent effort has developed
himself into an expert has greatly enhanced
his value to society. The boss who demands expert
service from untrained men is either a tyrant
or a fool. But the executive who develops novices
into experts and the company which transforms
mere ``handy men'' into mechanics are public
benefactors because of the service rendered to the
country and their men_.



THE demand for trained and experienced
men is never supplied. Most business
and industrial organizations find their
growth impeded by the dearth of such men.
To employ men trained by competitors
or by inferior organizations is expensive and
unsatisfactory. A man trained till he has
become valuable to his ``parent'' organization
is not likely to be equally valuable to other
organizations that might employ him at a
later time. In general, the most valuable
men in any organization are the men who
have grown up in it.

The man who is ``a rolling stone'' secures,
in a way, more experience than the man who is
developed within a single organization, but his
wider experience does not of necessity make
him a more valuable man. It is not mere

experience that educates, develops, and equips
men, but experience of particular sorts, and
acquired under very well defined conditions.

``Scientific management'' has taken seriously
the problem of providing and utilizing
the most valuable experiences. But the viewpoint
of the leaders in this modern movement
is that of the employer seeking the most valuable
experiences for those employees whose
work is mainly mechanical, _e.g_. machine
tenders, stenographers, etc. Scientific management
has conclusively demonstrated the
fact that it is poor economy to depend upon
haphazard experiences for the development
of those employees whose excellence depends
upon the speed and accuracy of their occupation
habits. It has thus done great service
in demonstrating the kind of experience most
valuable in developing men for positions of
routine work. But it has done little for men
whose welfare depends upon judgment--in
making new adjustments and in solving the
new problems continually arising in all positions
of responsibility. It has left for others

to consider the experiences most profitable
for developing executives.

_The most valuable experience in acquiring
an act of skill is frequent repetition in performing
the act_.

The value of the experience continues till
by frequent repetition the act has become so
mechanical that it is performed without attention.
Further experience has little or no

On the other hand it is true that every
worthy calling demands forms of activity which
could not and should not be mechanized.
There are emergencies in every form of occupation
that call for new adjustments. The
ability to make such new adjustments depends
upon richness of experience and width
of view as well as upon skill in performing
the old processes.

The difference between a machine and a
man is that the man is capable of adjusting
himself to the changed situation, while a
machine cannot do so. The machine may work
more accurately and more rapidly than the man

in routine work, but it is capable of nothing
but routine work. There is a need for much
experience to make the man approximate the
skill and accuracy obtained by a machine.
But there is also need of experience to develop
the man in that particular in which he surpasses
a machine, _i.e_. in a broad experience
that enables him to form judgments and hence
to make a multitude of different adjustments
when a need for a change occurs.

A machine is constructed to perform a
particular kind of routine work in a stereotyped
way, but so soon as there is discovered a
better way of performing this work the machine
is thrown to the scrap heap because it
cannot be adjusted to new requirements.

_Experience which renders human activity
machine-like is a form of experience that increases
the probability that the possessor will be
discarded and his work accomplished by the
introduction of some new tool or some new
method of work_.

Experience therefore which merely increases
the skill of action without increasing the width

of horizon is necessary, but it is inadequate.
In addition to skill in routine work the man
should secure the broader experience that will
enable him to adjust himself to changed conditions
in his occupation and that will develop
the judgment necessary to enable him to
adjust his vocation to new demands. Every
form of occupation has many possibilities, a
few of which are from time to time discovered
to be significant. Advance in any sphere of
work depends upon the discovery of these
possibilities which the untrained eye of
inexperience does not detect. Although a broad
experience may enable the man to grasp the
possibilities of his occupation, it fails to secure
skill in the particulars that have already been
found to be important. While a broad experience
leaves a man incapable of present
competition, the narrow experience jeopardizes
his future.

The most valuable experience is therefore
one that equips the man to compete with the
skillful in the present and to comprehend his
task so that he may from time to time adjust

it to new relationships. It emphasizes the
formation of necessary habits, but does not
neglect the development of the judgment.
Such an experience is both intensive and
extensive; informal and formal; mechanical
and theoretical; practical and scientific. Such
experience alone meets the demands of the
increasing complexity of industrial and commercial


_I. Haphazard Experience_

But little attention is given to providing
those experiences that most adequately prepare
one for commercial and industrial life.
The boy who is to become a skilled workman
is compelled to ``pick up'' his experience as
best he can. The same is true of the boy who
aspires to a position as salesman, banker, or
manufacturer. Every employer seeks only
experienced men, and but few places are available
where such experience can be economically
and honorably secured.

The youth without experience, desiring to
become a skilled machinist, may secure some
experience with machinery in a second-rate
factory during the rush season. Because of
his incapacity, he is laid off as soon as the rush
is over. Thereupon he applies as an experienced
machinist in a better shop. If he is
lucky, he may secure a position. If the supervision
is inadequate, or the demand for labor
unusual, he may retain his position for several
hours, or days, or even weeks. After years
of such distressing experiences, the youth succeeds
in ``stealing his trade.'' In the meantime
he has been an economic loss to his many
employers, and his experience may have depraved
his character.

The condition found in the industrial world
is no worse than that in the commercial world.
The selling force is recuperated by green hands.
In most selling organizations no instruction is
given and no experience provided except what
is picked up haphazard behind the counter or
on the road. Most new men fail, are dismissed,
employed by another firm and dis-

missed again, etc. We have here nothing but
a struggle for existence and the survival of the
fittest in a crude and destructive form.

The burnt child avoids the fire, and his
experience is most effective. However, the
wise parent arranges conditions so that the
burn shall not be too serious. The machinist
who ``steals'' his trade profits greatly by his
mistakes, and the new salesman never forgets
some of his most flagrant errors. Such experiences
are practical, lasting, effective, but
uneconomical. But such experiences are of
necessity unsystematic and inadequate to
modern industrial and commercial demands.

_II. Apprenticeship Experience_

The waste in the Haphazard method of
securing experience in the industrial world
has long been apparent and has led to attempts
to provide systems of apprenticeships which
would enable the youth to secure educative
experiences with a minimum of cost to himself
and his employer.

In theory the youth who becomes an ap-

prentice is bound or indentured to serve his
master for a period of years. During that
time the master agrees to see to it that the
apprentice practices and becomes proficient in
performing all the processes of the trade.
The employer (master) is rewarded in that
he secures the continuous service of the boy
for the period of years upon the payment of
little or no wages. Furthermore the apprentice
when developed into a journeyman is
likely to become a valuable employee. The
apprentice is rewarded for his years of service
by the practical experience which he has been
permitted to secure in actual work with all the
various processes involved in the trade.

Although the apprenticeship system has
many excellent points, it has been found
inadequate to meet the needs of modern commercial
and industrial institutions. At least
in its primitive form it is decadent in every
industry which has been modernized. All
forms of commerce and industry have become
so complicated and each part demands such
perfection of skill that an apprentice can

scarcely secure sufficient experience in even
the essentials of the trade to render him expert
in these various processes. In short, the
traditional apprenticeship system is unable to
give either the general comprehension of the
industry or the skill in the specialized processes.

_III. Theoretical-practical Experience_

In contrast with the two methods discussed
above (Haphazard Experience and
Apprenticeship Experience) schools must be
considered as a method of providing experiences
preparatory to industrial life. The first
two methods secure skill, but the schools secure
learning. The first two might be said to
educate the hands and the latter the head.
The comparative advantages of these contrasted
systems is the theme of unceasing
debate. The man skilled in one thing can at
least do that one thing well. The man who is
learned but not skilled in any activity of his
chosen occupation is unable to compete with
the boys who at the expense of schooling,
``went to work'' in that particular occupation.

An advanced general school education has
very distinct advantages. But skill in reading
Latin does not greatly increase one's ability
to read instruments of precision. Skill in
applying mathematical formul will not greatly
assist in estimating the value of merchandise.
A knowledge of general psychology will not
insure ability in selecting employees. Even
great proficiency in discoursing upon ethical
theories does not protect one from the temptation
to be dishonest in business.

Skill in one thing does not insure skill in
other and even in similar things. Learning
in one field is not incompatible with gross
ignorance in other and related fields. We
have discovered that skill and learning are
largely specialized, and accordingly we see the
necessity of acquiring skill and learning in the
particular fields in which the skill and learning
are desired. To meet these demands
various modifications in our schools have been
made. To meet the needs of training for the
industries we have the manual training schools,
industrial schools, trade schools, continuation

schools, correspondence schools, night schools,
technological schools, etc. To provide the
appropriate experiences for commercial life
we have commercial schools, business colleges,
store schools, schools of commerce, etc.

These schools have rendered invaluable
service and are rapidly increasing in number,
yet they do not provide either the skill or the
learning which should be possessed by the

_IV. Practical-theoretical Experience_

The weakness of the Haphazard and Apprenticeship
methods of securing experience
is twofold: (1) They cease too early. So soon
as the man really enters into his occupation his
education ceases. (2) They are too narrow,
they fail to provide experiences that give proper
perspective; they do not give adequate
theoretical comprehension of the work being
accomplished from day to day; they do not
develop the judgment.

The weakness with the Theoretical-practical
method of providing experience resembles

the weakness of the Haphazard and the Apprenticeship
methods in that it ceases too
early. It ceases _*before_ the individual begins
his life work. It may have the special weakness
of not being closely organized with the
vocation for which it is assumed to be a preparation,
hence of being impracticable.

The Practical-theoretical form of providing
experience is based on two assumptions: The
first assumption is that the practical and the
theoretical should be equally emphasized;
that they should be closely organized; and
that the theory should be deduced from the
practice. The second assumption is that the
educative processes should continue so long
as the man is engaged in his occupation.

A concrete illustration will make clear the
difference between the four different methods of
acquiring experience as given above.

During the present summer vacation I have
been spending a few weeks in a boarding house.
Some previous boarder had bequeathed to the
house an intricate Chinese block puzzle.
During this summer one lad in the house spent

eight hours in solving the puzzle. He worked
by the Haphazard method, trying blindly, till
he just happened to get it right. The next
attempt did not take so long, but it was many
days before he could solve the problem rapidly.

As soon as the lad had learned to solve the
puzzle, my son watched him solve it many
times, and kept trying to do it as he saw it
done. My son learned to solve the puzzle in
perhaps two hours by thus watching another
and then trying it himself. He was employing
the Apprenticeship method, and his education
was accomplished in one fourth the time required
by the Haphazard method.

In the boarding house was an expert mechanical
engineer. He took up the task of
solving the problem and was most scientific
in his procedure. He figured out the principles
that he thought might be involved,
tried them, and immediately abandoned methods
that proved unsuccessful. He was able
to solve the puzzle in a half hour. Later trials
were all successful and rapid. He knew just
how he had solved the puzzle, and therefore

did not have to experiment or take chances on
later trials. This engineer employed the
Theoretical-practical method of learning.

The engineer volunteered to instruct me in
the problem. I took up the blocks and began
trying to unite them. As one difficulty after
another arose, I was given instruction in the
principle for overcoming it. No principle
was presented to me till I had faced a situation
demanding that particular principle. The
practice and the theory went together, and so
far as the instruction was concerned the practice
preceded the theory step by step. I was
therefore employing the Practical-theoretical
method. As a result I was enabled to solve
the problem in fifteen minutes. Furthermore
I knew just how I had done it and could do it
again and could apply the same principles
to other puzzles.

A comparison of these results is most instructive.
The lad who went at it blindly by
the Haphazard method required eight hours
and even then did not analyze out the principles
that would help him solve later prob-

lems. My son, who employed the Apprenticeship
method, accomplished his task in two
hours but discovered no principles. His work
was blindly mechanical. The engineer worked
according to the Theoretical-practical method,
completed his task in thirty minutes, and understood
perfectly what he had done. By employing
the Practical-theoretical method I was
enabled to accomplish the task in fifteen
minutes and to understand also how it was

Whether I have in mind my own development
or that of my employees, if I am seeking
to utilize the Practical-theoretical method of
capitalizing experience, I am confronted with
two problems: (1) How shall I secure or
provide the requisite practical experiences?
(2) How shall I secure or provide the appropriate
theoretical interpretation of such experiences?

During recent years in the educational,
industrial, and commercial world serious attempts
have been made to answer these two
questions, and the results are most significant.

The College of Engineering of the University
of Cincinnati believes that it has solved
the problem for certain fields of activity by
``coperative courses.'' In these courses the
students spend one week in some manufacturing
plant and the next week in the college.
This weekly alternation of practical and theoretical
is kept up for six years. The number
of students in the college and the number of
workers in the manufacturing plant is kept
constant by dividing each group of students
into two sections which alternate with each
other, so that when one section is at the college
the other is at the shop. The college teaches
the principles that are necessary for understanding
and solving the problems arising
from week to week in the shop. As the Dean
of the college expresses it, ``It aims to teach
the theory underlying the work, to teach the
intent of the work, to give such cultural subjects
as will tend to make him a more intelligent
civic unit.'' It is thought that such
coperative courses could be arranged by
schools of different ranks of advancement and

that the students could spend their alternate
weeks in almost any class of industrial or commercial
institution of importance.

One of the most conspicuous attempts to
provide Practical-theoretical experiences of an
educative sort is that of the General Electric
Company of West Lynn, Massachusetts. This
institution has provided a corps of instructors
and rooms devoted exclusively to instruction
within the plant itself. The theoretical instruction
is assumed to be perfectly cordinated
with the practical. In fact the young
apprentice spends much of his time almost
daily in constructing commercial articles and
under the same conditions that will confront
him in later years. His theoretical instruction
is thus planned to help him to accomplish
his practical task more quickly, perfectly, and
with more perfect understanding. The training
is so broad that the graduate is prepared to
become an industrial foreman in any mechanical

The John Wanamaker Commercial Institute
of Philadelphia is a school conducted

within the store and for the benefit of the
employees of the store. In this school theoretical
instruction is given that is designed to
give the principles underlying commercial
life. The results are said to be most gratifying
both to the employer and the employees.

The Practical-theoretical form of education
is not limited to the apprentice or to the new
employee but is equally valuable to the expert,
the oldest employees, and the employer.
This fact is taken advantage of most wisely
by the National Cash Register Company.
This company provides instruction suited to
the needs of all its salesmen, whether they are
new and inexperienced or whether they are the
oldest, most efficient salesmen. By means of
letters, books, demonstrations, and conventions
the salesmen are constantly provided with
educative experiences and are kept from the
narrowness and lack of progress so characteristic
of men in the commercial life after they
have become thoroughly established and relatively
efficient in their work.

In keeping with this modern tendency to

supplement practical experience with theoretical
interpretation, we find a very pronounced
increase in the utilization of all agencies that
interpret and enrich the daily toil. Men who
are fully employed (_e.g_. journeymen and salesmen)
have realized the necessity of some form
of theoretical instruction to enable them to
profit by their daily practical experience.
This fact is almost pathetically demonstrated
by the multitudes who are seeking for such
instruction through correspondence and evening
schools. Every progressive engineer,
teacher, physician, and lawyer keeps abreast
of the best thought of the day by means of
frequent conventions, conferences, books, and
periodicals. The experience secured from such
agencies is essential to progress; only by such
agencies can he learn the latest and most perfect
interpretation of the experience of his
professional life. Likewise the non-professional
man engaged in commerce or industry
finds the modern world to be so complex that
mere practical experience is no longer adequate
to enable him to meet the demands made

upon him. The theoretical training of his
youth (even though it include the college and
the technical school) is totally inadequate to
interpret for him the new relationships which
arise from day to day. He needs a theory
that grows out of his practical experience and
that enables him to understand and to improve
upon his practical work. The most common
means for providing him with such experience
he finds in his conventions and informal conferences
with his peers and in his trade
journals and technical books.

There is no warfare between theory and
practice. The most valuable experience demands
both, and the methods of procuring
the most valuable experience in business and
industry demand that the theory should supplement
the practice and not precede it.
The environment most conducive to securing
and utilizing the most valuable experience is
in the work-a-day world. But this is the very
environment in which men become engulfed
in the practical and neglect the theoretical.
To the extent to which men thus neglect the

theoretical do they lower themselves and class
themselves with mere machines, and so hasten
the day when they shall be discarded. Whether
we be apprentices or experts, employees or
employers, we are all in a similar condition.
In every case advance is dependent upon
the proper utilization of practical and theoretical
experiences--upon the practical experience
which is adequately interpreted.



WHY is it that of two men who are
working at the same desk or bench
the one acquires valuable experience
rapidly and the other slowly?

Why is it that of two houses each employing
a thousand men the one sees its employees
securing experiences that enhance their earning
capacity rapidly, but the other house is
compelled periodically to secure new blood by
importing men from rival firms?

Modern psychology teaches that experience
is not merely the best teacher but the only
possible teacher. All that any instructor can
do is to select and to provide the conditions
necessary for appropriate experiences and to
stimulate the learner to make the most of
them. The ignorant is changed into the learned

by means of the utilization of profitable
experiences. By the same method the novice is
changed into the expert; the amateur into the
professional; the inefficient into the efficient;
and the errand boy into the manager.

One of the most important questions any
man can ask is this: What experience am I
actually getting from day to day and what experience
might my situation offer?

One of the most important questions the
employer of men can ask is this: How much
more efficient will my men be to-morrow because
of the experience of to-day? How
might their experience be changed or utilized
so that their efficiency might be increased
more rapidly?

In planning to secure permanent increase in
efficiency, whether for one's self or for one's
employees, we simplify our problem by considering
it under the two following subdivisions:--

What Experiences are Most Valuable?

How may these Most Valuable Experiences
be Secured and Utilized?

Preparatory to the answering of these two
questions it will simplify matters to consider
the general conditions which affect the value
of experience.


1. Health and Vigor.

The mind and body are so intimately connected
that the value of an experience is seriously
affected by depletion or exhaustion of
the body. The experiences acquired when one
is fresh and vigorous are remembered; those
acquired when one is tired are forgotten. Most
college students find that lessons gotten in the
morning are better remembered and are more
readily applied than those learned after a day
of exhaustive work. We get most out of those
experiences secured when we are feeling the
most vigorous, whether the vigor be dependent
upon age, rest, or general health.

2. Experience is valuable proportionately as
we apply ourselves to the task on hand. By
intensity of application we not only accomplish

more, but each unit of work contributes more
to our development. Under the stress of voluntary
and spontaneous attention, under the
stimulus of personal efficiency-ideals, and under
such social demands as competition and imitation
we develop new methods of thought and
action which are thereupon adopted as the
methods for future action.

3. The value of an experience depends upon
what has been called the ``personal attitude''
sustained during the experience. Three forms
of ``personal attitudes'' have been distinguished
and are designated as follows:--

(_a_) The submissive or suggestible attitude.

(_b_) The self-attentive attitude.

(_c_) The objective or the problem attitude.

(_a_) One is likely to be thrown into the submissive
attitude when a new situation arises
(a business problem), if one knows that he is
in the presence of others who could solve the
problem with relative ease or accuracy. In
such a situation the individual is hampered
in his thinking by the presence of those who
are more expert than he. His thinking is

therefore futile for the present difficulty and is
devoid of educative value.

(_b_) The self-attentive attitude is similar
to the submissive attitude, but is not to be
confused with it. If when confronted with a
difficult problem my attack upon it is weakened
by the expectation of assistance from others, I
am in a submissive attitude. If, however, my
attack is weakened by my realization that I
am on trial,--that what I do with the problem
will be observed by others,--then I become
self-conscious and am thrown into the self-
attentive attitude. If I am conscious that I
am being watched, it is quite difficult for me to
hit a golf ball, to add a column of figures, or
to deliver a lecture on psychology. So long
as I am self-attentive my efficiency is reduced;
I hit on no improved methods of thought or
action, and my experience therefore has no
permanent value.

(_c_) So soon as I can forget others and myself
and can take the objective, or the problem
attitude, the chances of efficient action are
greatly increased. I find it relatively easy

to assume this attitude when I feel that I
stand on my own responsibility; that the
problem cannot possibly be referred to any
higher authority, but that the solution depends
upon me alone. My chances of solving the
problem would be much reduced, if it were proposed
to me at a time when I felt domineered
by a superior, or when I felt that he knew much
more about it and could settle it much more
easily and surely than I. If the problem demanded
previous experience and the possession
of knowledge which I did not possess, it would
be likely to make me self-conscious and hence
incapable of utilizing even the experience and
the knowledge that I do possess. Past success,
the possession of wide experience, and
technical instruction keep me from assuming
the self-attentive attitude and enable me to
take the problem or objective attitude. This
is the only attitude consistent with improved
form of thought or action, and hence is the
attitude essential for valuable experience.

4. That experience is the most valuable that
is acquired in dealing with conditions similar

to those in connection with which improvement
is sought. Experience in wood-chopping makes
one a better chopper but does not necessarily
increase his skill in sawing wood. Experience
in bookkeeping increases one's ability in
that particular, but does not appreciably increase
his ability to handle men. Speed and
accuracy of judgment secured in inspecting one
sort of goods cannot be depended upon, if a
different sort of goods is to be inspected.

The experience secured in responding to one
situation will be valuable in responding to a
similar situation because of the three following

(_a_) Two similar conditions may secure identical
factors in our activity. Thus school life
and the executive's work secure such identical
activities as are involved in reading, in writing,
or in arithmetic, and so forth, whether accomplished
in the schoolroom or the office.

(_b_) The method developed in one experience
may be applied equally well to another activity.
In connection with a course in college, a
student may acquire a scientific method of

procedure. At a later time he may (or he may
not) apply this same method to the problems
arising in his business or industrial life.

(_c_) Ideals developed in one experience may
be projected into other experiences. If the
ideals of promptness, neatness, accuracy, and
honesty are developed in one relationship of
life, the probabilities are somewhat increased
that the same ideals will be applied to all

Provided that the four general conditions
discussed are secured, we then have the more
specific and important question to ask:--


Only those experiences are valuable that in
an appreciable degree modify future action.
One way in which an experience or a series of
experiences modifies future action is in the
formation of habits.

_Habit Formation_

Habit has a beneficial influence on future
action in five particulars:--

(_a_) Habit reduces the necessary time of
action. Repeating the twenty-six letters of
the alphabet has become so habitual that I can
repeat them forward in two seconds. To repeat
them in any other than an habitual order,
_e.g_. backwards, requires sixty seconds.

(_b_) Habit increases accuracy. I can repeat
the alphabet forward without danger of error,
but when I try to repeat it backward I am
extremely likely to go astray.

(_c_) Habit reduces the attendant exhaustion.
Reading English is for me more habitual than
reading French. Hence the latter is the more
exhausting process.

(_d_) Habit relieves the mind from the necessity
of paying attention to the details of the
successive steps of the act. When piano
playing has been completely reduced to habit,
the finger movement, the reading of the notes,
etc., are all carried on successively with the
minimum of thought.

(_e_) Habit gives a permanency to experience.
For many years in playing tennis I served the
ball in a way that had become for me perfectly

habitual. For an interval of three years I
played no tennis, but when I began again I
found that I could serve as well as ever. If
the manner of service had not been so perfectly
reduced to habit, I would have found
after an interval of three years that I was completely
out of practice, _i.e_. that my previous
experience did not have a permanent value.

(The subject of habit formation will be more
completely presented in Chapter XIII.)

A second form of experience that is capitalized
and so predetermines a man's capacity to
act and to think is the formation of what is
known as practical judgments.

_Practical judgments_

By a practical judgment is meant the conscious
recall of a concrete past experience and
the determination of some action by means of
this consciously recalled event. I find that it
will be necessary for me to secure a new stenographer.
I solve the problem by consciously
recalling how I got one before. Upon the
basis of that consciously recalled previous

experience I decide how to act now. This is a
practical judgment.

In strictness what is capitalized is not the
practical judgment itself but the original
concrete experience that is recalled at a later
time, and upon the basis of which a practical
judgment is formed.

Practical judgments cannot be more
comprehensive than one's previous experience.
The necessary condition for fertility in the
formations of practical judgments is therefore
richness of previous experience. Indeed one's
practical judgments are much more restricted
than one's actual experiences. A practical judgment
is dependent not merely upon having had
the necessary experience, but upon the recall
of it at the appropriate occasion. The key to a
side door of my house was temporarily lost.
After trying scores of keys, I found that a key
to a room in the attic would also open the side
door. This side-door key was again carried
off last week. After much vexation and after
trying numerous keys, I again discovered that
the key to the room in the attic would open the

side door. I failed to make the necessary
practical judgment. If when the key was lost
the second time I had recalled my former experience
and had taken advantage of it, I would
have formed a practical judgment and would
have saved myself much inconvenience.

The formation of practical judgments is not
a high form of thought. Indeed it is held by
many that the animals are capable of some
form of practical judgment. A much more
effective form of thought is the formation of
reflective judgments.

_Reflective judgments_

A practical judgment is based on a single
concrete case. A reflective judgment is based
on a generalization, an abstraction, or a principle
derived from many previous experiences.

Last night a salesman tried to induce me to
purchase an interest in an Idaho apple orchard.
Thereupon I recalled an instance of a friend
who a year ago had made such a purchase and
had found it a profitable investment. If on
the basis of this or some other concrete case I

had accepted or rejected his offer, I would have
made a practical judgment. As a matter of
fact I caused several concrete instances to
pass through my mind, made the generalization
that most professional men lose when they invest
in distant properties, and upon the basis of this
generalization made my reflective judgment
and rejected his proposition.

Last week on the golf links I saw a Bohemian
peasant woman wearing clothes full of small
holes. I tried to figure out how the clothing
had become so injured. I recalled seeing a
coat that had been left all summer in an attic
till it had been eaten to pieces by the moths.
On the basis of that recalled incident I satisfied
myself by means of the practical judgment
that she was wearing moth-eaten clothing. A
few days later I saw three of these women
working on one of the greens, and each of
them had on clothing full of small holes. I
began to reflect as to the cause of the holes. I
observed that each woman held a bottle in
her hand and was apparently applying the contents
of the bottle to the roots of the dandelion

plants. I inferred that the liquid must be
an acid. Then of all the qualities of an acid I
considered merely its corrosiveness. With
that abstraction in mind I made the reflective
judgment that the women were working with
an acid and that from time to time particles
of the acid got on their clothes and corroded

A manager of a large manufacturing and
selling organization made a study of the conditions
affecting the prosperity of his organization.
From his observations he deduced the
principle that for him it is more important to
increase the loyalty of the men to the organization
than to reduce the apparent labor cost.
With this principle in mind he made various
reflective judgments in upbuilding his organization.

In these illustrations of theoretical or reflective
judgments it will be observed that no
previous single experience was in the mind of
the one forming the judgment but merely a
generalization, an abstraction, or principle.

The experience that is really capitalized is

the formation of the generalizations, abstractions,
and principles which are thereafter available
for reflective judgments and can be applied
to a multitude of novel situations but situations
in which the generalization, abstraction,
or principle is a factor.

The significance of reflective judgments in
increasing human efficiency was manifested
in a striking manner by the following experiment.
A group of individuals were tested
as to their ability to solve a number of mechanical
puzzles. The time required for each
individual was recorded. The subjects then described
as completely as possible how they had
solved the problem (worked the puzzle). In
some instances the subjects kept trying blindly,
till by accident they hit upon the right method.
In such cases the second and third trials might
take as long or even longer than the first trial.
If, however, the subject had in mind the right
principle or principles for solving the problems,
the time required for succeeding attempts fell
abruptly. Curve A of Figure 6 is a graphic
representation of the results of A with one of

the puzzles. To solve the problem the first
time required 1476 seconds. While solving
it this first time A discovered a principle upon
which success depended. The second attempt
consumed 241 seconds. While solving the
problem this second time he discovered a second
principle. With these two principles in
mind succeeding attempts were rendered rapid
and certain.

Another young man, B, in solving his problem.
(Chinese Rings Puzzle) succeeded after
working 1678 seconds. At the completion of
this successful attempt he had in mind no principle
for working it. The second trial was not
so successful as the first and lasted 2670
seconds. With succeeding trials he reduced
his time but not regularly and was still working
``in the dark.'' His method was one of
extreme simplicity and probably not different
from the ``try, try again'' method employed
by animals in learning. The results of his
first ten trials are graphically shown in Curve
B of Figure 6.

A comparison of Figure 6 with the five

{illust. caption = FIG. 6.}

figures of Chapter X will show how rapidly increase
of efficiency is when dependent upon
judgments as contrasted with improvement
dependent upon habit.

A judgment once having been made may be
utilized again and again. The process of
applying these preformed judgments is known
as an intuitive or perhaps better called an expert

_Expert judgments_

Just as appropriate concrete experiences determine
the nature and the range of practical
judgments, and as the formation of generalizations,
abstractions, and principles determine
the possibilities of reflective judgments, so the
actual formation of the practical and reflective
judgments determine the nature and the range
of the intuitive or expert judgments.

Some years ago I had a need for an attorney
to perform for me a petty service. Just
at that critical moment I met a friend who was
a lawyer. I employed him forthwith. At a
later time I needed a lawyer again, recalled my

former experience, and called up the same
attorney. This employing him the second
time was clearly a practical judgment. If I
have frequent need for an attorney, I shall
probably make use of my preformed practical
judgment and employ this same attorney.
This act will never become a habit, but it will
approximate more and more a habitual action,
and will seem to be performed intuitively, and
will be an illustration of an expert judgment.

This morning I was asked to find a cook and
man of general utility for an outing camp. I
had no preformed practical judgment which I
could apply to the case and did not even possess
a remembrance of any experience upon
which I might base a practical experience. In
such a case therefore I am not only not an
expert but I do not possess the necessary preliminary
experiences for developing such ability.

During the last decade I have given much
thought to this question: Does the efficiency
of one's thinking depend at all upon the clearness
and distinctness of the mental image used

in the thinking? I settled the question in the
negative. The formation of this principle
(clear thinking does not depend upon clear
visual image) was an act of reflective judgment.
But now the application of this preformed
judgment has developed into an expert judgment.
Recently I was given the manuscript
of a course in psychology and asked to appraise
it. One of the chief points of the author was
to advise all business men to develop clear
visual images. In fact he asserted that clearness
of thinking was in proportion to clearness
of the visual image with which the thinking is
carried on. Without again weighing the evidence
for my principle, I applied my preformed
judgment and by means of this expert judgment
condemned the course.

A man is expert only in those fields in which
he has developed the appropriate habits, the
necessary, practical, and reflective judgments,
and has had some practice in applying these

We find that four classes of experiences are
valuable, _i.e_. such experiences as result in the

formation of habits; such as result in practical
judgments, in reflective judgments, and in
expert judgments. Our final task is to consider
methods for increasing the probabilities
that such experiences may be secured and


The conditions best adapted for procuring
and utilizing one class of these most valuable
experiences may not be the best for the other
three classes. Our final problem must therefore
be subdivided into four parts corresponding
to the four classes of valuable experience.

_Special Conditions Favorable to Habit Formation_

The essential condition for habit formation
is repetition with intensity of application.
The modern movement in the industrial world
known as scientific management supplies this
need for repetition by standardizing all activities
so that they will be repeated over and

over in identical form; and it secures the intensity
of application by means of the task and
bonus system. By these means the most
valuable experiences for habit formation are
secured and utilized.

The working out of this fact is so admirably
described in recent reports upon scientific
management that further description here
would be superfluous.


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