Industrial Progress and Human Economics
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INDUSTRIAL PROGRESS AND HUMAN ECONOMICS
By James Hartness
Extra Copies On Request
Address all communications relative to industries to Commissioner
of Industries, Montpelier, Vermont.
This book is published by private funds
Vermont's natural resources have been set forth in State
publications, not adequately, but nevertheless, in well
Supplementing such publications this book deals with our human
resources, showing the way by which our greatest resource--human
energy--can be most effectively employed. It uses the welfare of
man as the yardstick of measure rather than treating the subjects
under the head of natural resources.
At the present time the productive power of a day's work varies
greatly throughout the country. It reaches its highest point where
the most efficient implements and machines are used; where there
is a high degree of special ability acquired by each executive and
workman, such as has been attained in our highly specialized
manufacturing industries, many of which may be found in our
neighboring states. The upbuilding of such organizations is only
in its infancy. There is now a natural drift away from congested
cities to adjacent states where plants and homes may be spread out
over larger areas.
The personal side of this to each man is the supreme need of a
better understanding of human economics; that is, he must know the
best way to use his own energies, and since he must work in
cooperation with others he should also know what constitutes the
most effective and successful organization. As a skilled worker,
as a scientist in some branch of the work, as an executive in
charge of some department, as a manager, investor or banker, he
must keenly sense the conditions on which progress is made.
This book is written for the progressive young man as well as all
those directly or indirectly interested in industrial development.
It is at once a text book and a reference book, for, as a workman
or executive advances he will find need of information on many of
the points herein set forth.
If the book has no immediate interest to you, please pass it along
[Signature: James Hartness]
The purpose of this book is to indicate the natural way to
increase our industrial development. To accomplish this there is
set forth an outline of an industrial policy. This policy relates
to procedure and methods for starting and managing industrial
It conforms to our economic conditions and offers the safest and
While it is written to create more desirable industrial
establishments within the state and to increase the vitality of
the existing plants, it is distinctly a guide for the individual,
for it facilitates the progress of the man as well as that of the
It is a practical policy that stimulates and energizes the
industrial spirit and at the same time, directs our energies along
the easiest road of progress in personal and state development.
It sets forth certain fundamental principles that apply broadly to
all activities, but specifically to manufacturing and the means
and methods that must be employed to win in the industrial
To the investor it provides the best measure by which he can
estimate the economic soundness and prospects of an enterprise. It
gives confidence in right projects, making money available for
things that are right, and reducing the hazard of investments by
eliminating the badly or indifferently managed organizations and
those founded on unsound policies.
To the men in an organization it is also of great value, for by it
they can estimate their own prospects for progress. They risk not
only their earning power but their chances for personal
development. Their chances in acquisition of high degree of
ability and in advance from position to position also depends upon
the policy of management and success of the enterprise. The loss
of opportunity of any of these men really transcends the loss of
money, for it involves the loss of personal development and all
that that means.
It is obvious too that the management of each organization will be
of a more successful type when the entire personnel grasps the
essentials of industrial development.
When these essentials are understood and recognized as standards
of measure there will be less conflict between the investors and
the managers. Then it will be possible for managers and all others
to use all of their energies wholly for progressive work rather
than using a large part of their time and energy explaining each
move to the investors.
Managers need the support and confidence of the investors. Every
day requires a firm adherence to a definite policy. Nothing less
than the firmest determination will hold an organization to a true
course. With a division of opinion, the natural drift is away from
the standards on which modern success depends. Not only is it
necessary to have these principles understood by investors, but
also by all whose opinions will in any way affect the spirit of
the men in the organization.
The whole scheme, as it is set forth, is true to the fundamentals
of human economics, for it provides ways by which the energies of
mind and body are used most effectively. It brings a progressive
growth and creates in each the greatest productive capacity. So
that, as individuals and as a state, we will produce the greatest
value for a given amount of labor.
It is the only way by which we can compete with other states and
countries. It is the natural and inevitable way for Vermonters to
CONQUEST OF PEACE.
Before the war Vermont and the nation were approaching a serious
economic crises. The war has accentuated the gravity of the
situation, but has also demonstrated certain human characteristics
that can be enlisted to correct our course. We found during the
war that we were ready to take heroic action whenever an occasion
demanded it--that there was a solidarity of purpose of our people.
This characteristic must now be invoked. We must meet the
conditions that confront us by unity of public opinion and team
The conditions that confront us do not involve the possibility of
immediate invasion of our country by a hostile nation, but they
carry a burdensome penalty if we fail to take the right action.
Happily we are not required to risk our lives or even work harder,
but we must recognize the plain facts that we are not sharing in
the general economic progress of our neighboring states.
In war the nation that wins the victory imposes a burden of tax on
the conquered nation. In the conquest of peace the victorious
nations also impose a burden on the losers. This burden is just as
real as the burden imposed by war, for in both cases the losers
are paying tribute to the winners. This applies to states, to
communities, to families and to men. The situation calls for
prompt attention and concerted action by the people of our state
In the conquest of peace success comes to those people who produce
the greatest value with a given expenditure of energy, or, in
other words, to the people who at the end of a day's, a year's or
a life's work can measure their return in the largest value.
Dollars constitute our measures of value for they are our medium
of exchange of our products of labor. If, to accomplish the same
result, the man with inferior implements must work harder than the
man with the best implements, it is very easy to see who has to
pay tribute to the other in the market where values are compared
and payment made for values.
Owing to the advance that has been made both in invention of
implements and methods and in the organization of workers, there
is now a marked difference in the value of the product of a day's
work. A study of this situation shows the supreme need of action
that will direct our energies as individuals and as a state in a
way that will bring the largest value for a day's work.
We must choose with care our work, our equipment and our methods
of combining our efforts. There must be team work within each
industrial plant and each plant must be in tune with the whole
As a people we have not lagged behind, in fact we have been
leaders in many important branches, but our enterprise has known
no state boundaries, and many of our men and women have gone to
other states. Hence, while as a people we have been leaders, as a
state we have been lagging behind the more active industrial
Vermont is very close to the most highly developed industrial
center on the face of this globe. These centers, through
coordination, invention and choice of work, have been able to
produce greater values per man per day. Men with the spirit of
industry and a practical knowledge gained by experience in these
highly developed centers go out from such centers and build up
other industrial centers wherever the best opportunity appears.
The nearest places to these centers are the most natural fields in
which to start new organizations. But when no cooperating spirit
is found near at hand, these carriers of industry go till they
find better places. Many have traveled past Vermont because we
were busy in other lines and our money was being sent to other
states for investment. Many of our own men left the town of
Windsor during the last sixty years, and from this one town there
has been built a number of important industries in other states
notably in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
It is not necessary to assume that the industrial spirit has
spread under the guidance of man or just by chance as these men of
practical knowledge and enterprise have drifted. It may be that
the successful new centers were merely a few of thousands of
attempts in other places. Our problem is to study the conditions
under which these industries thrive and then see how we can
establish these conditions.
In this way we will be acting in harmony with the natural drift or
natural law, if you prefer, and this is one of the purposes of
VERMONT FAVORABLY LOCATED.
Our nearness to these industrial states give us an advantage over
more remote states, but it is not sufficient in itself to bring
our share of industrial expansion. Nevertheless it is one of the
greatest advantages and constitutes one of the strong points on
which we base our faith in our plan for greater industrial
The next element to nearness to existing plants is the spirit and
understanding of the people. Vermont has the best spirit of
industry but has not the fullest conception of industrial life and
opportunity. It is this purpose of setting forth the principles of
desirable industrial life that constitutes the next step.
When these principles are understood, we will improve the chances
for the acquisition of local industries through the coming of
others from nearby states or by the establishment of new plants by
some of our own people who are already well qualified to carry
forward such enterprise. But whether it is brought about by these
or any other means, the basic principle on which successful
industries are built must be known and must constitute the policy
of organization and management.
The principles set forth are basic. They constitute the necessary
addition of the practical knowledge of invention, management and
general business knowledge gained in existing plants.
Industrial life calls for the best that is found in brain,
enterprise and ability and should have every possible aid and
cooperation. Furthermore it should be protected from impractical
promoters, impractical managers and obstructive theorists.
It is actual work and accomplishment that counts. The workers and
those who lead and cooperate with them should not have their
combined efforts handicapped by those who have never done actual
work or who have never been performing an essential service.
Indifference and misdirection are our greatest enemies in times of
peace. These hinder our growth and if allowed to exist, will
ultimately lead to our becoming a subservient people.
We are all ready to accept these facts but may differ as to the
best ways to use our energies.
We are already making good progress in various branches of
agriculture, granite and marble work, and in various branches of
manufacturing of wood, textiles and metal, but a direct comparison
with our manufacturing states shows that we do not bring into the
state an adequate return for our labor.
Many of our young people migrate to more remunerative kinds of
work in other states, and as already stated some of these
Vermonters have led in the creation and upbuilding of great
There are now many good chances to create new and energize our
Some may ask why should we consider other industries when we can
find many good opportunities in our present enterprises. The
answer is that our people drift away to other states to get into
these industries for there they have discovered that the best
chance to produce a large value for a day's work is where best
implements are used and where there is the best organization of
They have found that in some respects we are lagging behind in the
use of best methods and best implements.
Without going further into the analysis of the conditions that
confront us, it is obvious that an increase in the size and number
of desirable industries is an object worthy of our attention and
We have clearly in mind that more money flowing into the state
will improve our entire economic situation. Taxes, markets,
population, schools, opportunities for Vermonters and general
improvement in all values and interests.
The next thing to do is to get an industrial policy that will
guide us in our course as individuals, managers, engineers,
manufacturers, investors, progressive workers and as citizens. The
idea must precede action and the action must precede results. The
true idea will bring results of like character, hence the need of
the fullest knowledge on which to form the idea.
A simple outline of a desirable industry may be drawn through the
First: An ideal industry is an organization in which the energies
of mind and body are most effectively employed.
Second: Since man is something more than a physical body, his work
must be one in which he feels an interest and satisfaction.
Third: Since there are various kinds of implements to aid man in
his work, a successful organization should use the most effective
Fourth: Since man is a creature of habit and functions most
effectively when he has acquired skill through experience, each
one in the workshop and office should be experienced in his
particular branch of the work.
Fifth: Since the high skill of men is attained through repetition
of operations, the management must subdivide the work into classes
in which each man can become highly proficient.
Sixth: Just as there is an individual skill and ability acquired
by the individual, so there must be a group skill built up. The
group skill is acquired by the coordination of the energies of all
the workers so that the work flows naturally and evenly from
worker to worker with the minimum hindrance. This coordination
takes place naturally through experience. It only needs common
sense supervision and a protection of the workers from the
impractical interference of faddists.
HAVE FAITH IN VERMONT.
Travelers through the west, particularly on the coast states
bring back the story of optimism that seems to be characteristic
of the enterprising people who migrated west in the early days.
This spirit of optimism is not found in all parts of our country,
and yet it is of high value. In New England for instance, in each
state there is a state pride, but perhaps not to the extent that
we find in the larger cities and in the west. Here we are more
interested in the success of our various branches of activities.
Vermonters have been notably free to go beyond state boundaries in
the acquisition of trade or profession and in practice, but
optimism, which is the parent of enterprise, has an excellent
chance for existing in our state.
The early history of industrial development shows it followed
along the avenues of transportation--seaports and lakeports and
railways. With the railways the industries spread to other states,
notably Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. Now there is setting
in a readjustment and the time is ripe for Vermonters to use some
of their spirit of enterprise within the boundaries of the old
state. Goods may be shipped to the best market from the top of our
highest mountain at lower cost than it could be shipped from some
remote competitors. There is every angle favorable except the full
knowledge of the situation and the elements on which industrial
success can now be achieved.
The coming and use of machinery has been a most potent force in
determining the economic rating of city and state, and it is in
this respect that Vermont has now its great opportunity, and it is
in the field in which invention, the use of machinery, the right
methods of building up an effective group of workers that there is
the surest reward for the energy put forth by investors,
organizers and workers.
If you have grasped these facts; continue to study the elements of
the plan; fit yourself as an experienced worker or executive in
some branch of the work; see that the scheme of work is one that
can successfully compete with other producers; then put your whole
self into the work.
If you wish to get the plan into your own consciousness and
action, tell it to others.
Become a practical booster of the plan.
It fits the future.
It fits today.
Be a Booster.
It is right.
OUR INDUSTRIAL POLICY.
We must endeavor to establish desirable industries. The most
desirable industries are those in which there is an opportunity
for development of all the workers and a chance for the greatest
number to find the best opportunity to acquire special skill and
special ability. In such industries there should be the open door
of progress so that those who are qualified for advancement can go
forward from position to position with no barrier other than their
own mental or physical limitations.
Special ability, skill and team work are only acquired by long
specialized practice. These qualities constitute the most valuable
assets on which to create a new concern.
Very elaborate systems have been designed for controlling the flow
of the work through the plant and the division of the various
activities between men and departments, but the real effective
coordination must grow out of the actual working conditions of the
workers. This natural evolution of the group's effectiveness as a
single organization is one of greatest importance. The impractical
theorist coming into an old plant will start in at once to
rearrange the order of things irrespective of both the group
habit-action and the habit-action of each man.
Changes must be most sparingly made, with the full knowledge that
anything that interferes with the habit-action of the workers is a
serious hindrance. All people concerned, whether as executives in
the industry, or as investors, must remember that in a growing
industry, individual skill as well as group skill of the whole
organization greatly improves with continued action. Under the
process of continued action the average man can make a fair
showing and with a reasonable degree of moral support will make
good, while without it the ablest man will have a hard time and
even fail if he is forced to accept changes that disturb
continuity of action.
The management must conform to the best world practice in
engineering, industrial life, individual welfare and economics. It
must have every element of organization kept in best condition.
The spirit of the group is of great importance, for the
organization goes forward on the congenial nature of each man's
profession or work. Each man's energies, both mental and physical,
must be employed constructively with the minimum disturbance. His
energies must be concentrated on his own particular work. This
concentration applies to all workers and executives. This plan is
based on the fact that, through continuity of attention and
application to a given work, man acquires a special aptitude. It
also recognizes that each man on the face of the earth, from the
tramp along the railroad to the most highly developed scientist
and executive, has a special knowledge and special ability that he
has acquired by experience.
It is needless to say that in competition with the whole world
there must be alertness every day in the guidance of details of
mechanism and business, and that it is not by the gathering
together of a group of men at the end of the year or even once a
month or once a week that business can be effectively managed; it
is a continued application to the work every day and every hour
There should be no absentee management. The men who manage must be
in close touch with the work and the workers--not merely through
written or oral reports, but by actual observation.
Travel, study and observation of other connections and work are
necessary, but the home must be with the industrial plant and that
must be the prime interest.
LIMITATIONS OF MAN'S PROGRESS.
It is not contemplated that all men will become managers or
office men. Such positions are not of a kind that is satisfactory
to many of our ablest men. Some are happiest in work in which they
acquire great skill. They are disturbed and made uncomfortable
when required to solve mental problems. Some of the greatest
achievements have been wrought by such men, who have been highly
honored in the past and such men will have more recognition as
time goes on, for we are coming to understand the fact that we
must depend on such men for special ability in the form of skill,
whether it is in the surgery, mechanics, art or any other branch
or division of work or the professions. Such men are not talkers
and do not force themselves into spectacular positions. To say
that there is no progress for the surgeon if he cannot become
manager of the hospital, nor for the skilled worker if he cannot
become manager of the industrial plant, would not be in keeping
with facts for we know that such men have made the greatest
contribution to the world's welfare.
This plan of individual progress should not be disturbing to the
worker who has come to a standstill. It is the ideal toward which
we must work. It can never be wholly attained, but such a policy
will make a vast difference with the prospects of all workers and
in the success of industrial organizations.
PROTECT THE INDUSTRIAL SPIRIT.
Industries and the workers should be protected from incompetent
managers, investigators and impractical theorists.
Industries and the workers go forward by actual work, not on
manipulation of stocks, bonds, laws and schemes to wreck or boost
for temporary gain of some one interest.
In general it is safe to have faith in the honesty of the workers
and those who cooperate with them--at least we can start with the
assumption that honesty and square dealing are not monopolized by
If we will remember that an industry has a vitality the same as a
man, that its life can be destroyed by an ignorant investigator
with a probe poking into every nerve and muscle, we will make
Vermont a more natural place for industrial development and
The attitude of the workers and the general public should be
cordial instead of antagonistic for every desirable industry is an
asset of great value.
In theory and law an industry belongs to the stockholders, at
least it is for the stockholders to elect the board of directors
who through practical officers manage the business; but, as a
matter of actual fact, to the man who has the best job in the
world for himself right in that organization, the life of the
organization is of greater importance than it is to any one of the
stockholders. In the same sense the existence of the industry is
of greater value to many others in the organization and in the
community than it is to the stockholders.
Hence, anything that interferes with the success of the
organization injures many people.
WHAT IS NOT AN INDUSTRY.
Perhaps it will be well to state first what does not constitute
an industry. Power, transportation facilities, fine buildings,
fine machinery and a group of skilled workmen, a complete office
staff and an elaborate system of fad management do not constitute
an industry. Such an aggregation might be likened to a cargo ship
all ready for service excepting that it lacks a captain and
navigating officer and some one to determine what kind of a cargo
to take, where to go and how to get there.
The greatest value of an industrial plant that has everything but
a work to do and a leader to determine its major policies, lies in
the skilled workers and able executives in work and office. The
buildings and machinery come next in value, but the whole thing is
worthless without the idea and the vision.
In all cities we can see "dead" organizations. Many of these
companies that are actually "dead" seem to have life in them
because they continue to move, but in many instances the motion is
only due to the momentum of a push that was given years ago.
A "dead" organization may show signs of life in its gradual growth
in size, but its real character is to be seen in the extent to
which it is departing from specialization or by the continued use
of antiquated methods and buildings.
The departure from specialization is generally due to either lack
of courage to discard obsolete designs or to an inclination to
consider the business from the selling end only.
It takes courage to discard an old model and it also takes courage
to refuse to build some new invention.
The indifferent management carries the old and takes on the new.
This policy covering many years creates a condition that is far
removed from the specialization plan.
The management that views everything from the selling side of the
business is also inclined to go on indefinitely increasing the
line of goods manufactured.
The drift away from specialization may not be disasters today or
tomorrow, especially, if there are no competitors who are
specialists, but the inevitable result will be the burial of the
"dead" organization when a real competitor comes into the field.
The calamity of the existence of "dead" industrial organizations
is something more than the ultimate loss to the stockholders, it
is the deplorable stagnation in which the workers find themselves
with their progress blocked by lifeless management.
SOME INDUSTRIAL HOWS, WHYS AND WHATS.
How groups of men achieve the highest results in expenditure of
What is necessary to establish such conditions.
What are the most desirable opportunities.
What are desirable industries.
Why the need of building up habit-action.
How a group of men, through team work, acquires a group habit- action by
which their product greatly exceeds the product of the same number of
men working without cooperation.
How the individual ability and skill, as well as the group ability
and skill is only to be acquired by repetition that establishes
Why repetition of operation is essential to acquisition of skill
and special ability.
What are the boundaries that divide the Jack of all Trades, the
specialist and the victim of an overdose of repetition work.
Why industrial managers should know the cardinal principles of
invention, of industrial engineering, industrial management,
industrial relations and the human factor in engineering and in
Why a plant may be growing in size and paying dividends and may
still be dead so far as the spirit of enterprise is concerned.
Why some men try to manage industrial plants regardless of the
cardinal principles of progress of workers and the state.
Why the ideal conditions for the workers and executives can only
be found in an industrial establishment that can successfully
compete with others.
These "whys", "whos" and "whats" are of importance to all and
suggest a line of thought and interest in this industrial
The first men to function in the creation of new industries are
those who are already well grounded by long experience in some
special form of industry. The new organizations must have men well
qualified to direct each of its branches.
In general it may be stated that a new organization must start
with a superior article to manufacture and the elements of a
superior organization. Sometimes it is possible by invention alone
to win without the aid of the modern plan of specialized
organization. On the other hand, the success may be attained by
superior organization without a superior article to manufacture,
but in general it is better to combine all of the possible
beneficial factors in a new organization.
Organizers should know the market possibilities. If possible, the
product should be sold directly to the user. The contact with the
ultimate user is of supreme importance in the development of the
invention and the organization. In dealing through a selling
agency the manufacturer is not in control of the whole business.
The selling agent dictates the policy of the whole business. He
dictates the policy of the manufacturing plant from the selling
agent's needs and that seldom fits the manufacturing conditions.
The selling department generally demands many changes in product
and wide range of articles of manufacture, while the manufacturing
conditions require that special skill and ability that can only be
developed by continuity of action of a given kind, and this
restricts the range of produce.
If the head or one of the heads of a proposed organization knows
the market condition and knows what can be done in the sale of a
new article, then the question of invention and manufacture can be
safely left to those who have been well grounded in such
principles. That leaves only the question of the financial
The method of forming a stock company under the laws of Vermont is
very simple and people are generally well disposed to invest in
the stock of the new company providing the men at the head are
known to be competent--the inventor as an inventor, the business
man as a business man and so on all the way through. The standards
of measure of each one of the men and the standards of measure of
conducting the business are set forth in other chapters. At this
time it is sufficient to say that getting the capital is the
easiest part of the job. The real work is the preliminary work of
acquiring experience and devising plans.
A plan to create a new industry does not call for disloyalty to
the employer, for as a rule it is very foolish to attempt to
compete with an established organization excepting on some
business that gives the new organization an advantage by one or
more of the following points: invention, simpler product, simpler
methods, a higher degree of specialization, a more effective and
direct scheme of sales or a better spirit of personnel.
One of the essential things for the business man--if the business
man is not the inventor--is to grasp the fact that his success is
tied up to the inventor. The inventor is needed in the development
all the way through, not only in guiding the form of the
manufactured article, but in a large degree by dictating the
process by which the article is to be manufactured. The inventor
usually needs curbing to keep him from disturbing his own market
by the creation of newer forms, but these matters are treated
under the chapter of invention.
The principle element to set forth now is that it is a waste of
time and money for a few business men to buy a patent or an
invention and then dispense with the service of the inventor. They
are merely going to sea without a navigator. On the other hand it
is equally true that the inventor must consider the business side
of the problem and do all in his power to devise effective means
to facilitate the process of manufacturing.
The point to be made here is that there is no chance to win in
this game by sharp practice. It is only through work and the
combined work and energy of all the men in the organization that
anyone can win.
In the machine tool industries, one-third of the interest in the
plant is given to the inventor. This, to the average investor
appears to be an unfair proportion, but it is one of those cases
in which the broadest vision is necessary, and a glance at the
earning power of such organizations as well as the prestige of the
inventions, will bear out the wisdom of the general plan in
The plan, however, should not be considered as something that
boosts only one man or one group of men. If there is any attempt
to exploit labor, the plan is wrong. The scheme must be
fundamentally right so that each man coming into the workshop or
the office of business finds there his best opportunity to develop
and receive his best return for the use of his energies.
It is hoped that succeeding chapters will build up confidence in
the scheme that will make it possible for men to see the way to
progress in this line, to have faith in each other and to know
that their ultimate success will come through a spirit of
cooperation, concentration of attention and energies of each man
to his own special work so as to attain highest ability and last
but not least, the complete coordination of all in one safe, sane
MANUFACTURERS AND NEW INDUSTRIES.
One of the forces that operates against increase in the number of
industrial establishments is the fact that we do not realize the
need of human progress in our plants. Men should progress from job
to job until they reach their best achievement. Some gain their
greatest success in some manual work in which they acquire great
skill and others go on to executive positions and even graduate to
join other organizations or to start new industries.
We fail to see this fundamental law regarding the growth of the
manufacturing organization, and seldom realize the prime necessity
of the fundamental law relating to specialization. We overlook the
fact that stagnation in place of progress of the men in the plant
is deadly to the organization, and feel that if we get an
extra-efficient man in a certain position that he must be kept there
regardless of his own opportunity for advancement. We fail to realize
that progress all the way through the organization, should be
encouraged--that while man is distinctly a creature of habit, his mind
as well as his body must be considered, and that only by changes of a
progressive nature does he develop most favorably.
Too often a manufacturer is opposed to the creation of other
organizations by men from his own organization, when, as a matter
of fact, it would be a great deal better for his own institution
if he would encourage the growth of other plants that can be
created by his own men.
HABIT ACTION, BASIS OF SKILL AND PROFICIENCY.
We have many text books on the subject of industrial finance, of
engineering, of invention, of industrial management, and all these
books are written on the assumption that the human being knows his
own kind. A study of our failures seems to reveal, however, that
we have misunderstood the human being.
For instance, while we know that skill and experience is
invaluable, we make our mistake by underrating its value, or too
often we limit its application to the hand worker. We say that
skill of the pianist, the surgeon, the workman must be acquired by
practice. We know that in many trades a workman must spend three,
four or more years as an apprentice, and at least the same number
of years is necessary of actual specialized practice in almost any
department of work, but we overlook the fact that that special
skill or that special ability on which modern success is based
must be acquired under certain conditions.
The oriole builds a nest unlike the robin's nest. Each is
qualified in its own work. We know that these birds would be
sorely handicapped, and would probably be downright failures in
providing nests in season for eggs, if each were required to work
to plans and specifications of the other bird's nest.
Our fundamental error in understanding our own kind seems to lie
in the fact that we fail to recognize that man is a creature of
habit to an extent not quite equal to that of the lower animals,
but nevertheless to a degree that positively stands in the way of
any man who tries to create or manage an industry without giving
due value to this one element.
Another way to say all this is that we must recognize experience
is necessary--experience not only for the worker but for each one
in the organization.
The effect of this characteristic of habit action is so profound
that any disturbance in a plant due to changing the position of
benches or machinery or changing the character of the work
sorely interferes with man's efficiency. On account of this
characteristic the degree to which man's energies are most
effectively employed goes in direct proportion to the degree in
which there is a minimum of changes in the character of the work.
The importance of this will be realized when we consider the
question of competition, for that, in the last analysis,
constitutes the measure of success.
Now, if we extend the plan of acquisition of special ability to
embrace men in office as well as in the workshop we have covered
the whole subject and have said nothing more than that it is
necessary for all men in the office as well as in the workshop to
have a special ability that has been acquired by experience.
If it is as simple as this, why the need of saying it? The need is
brought about by the painful fact that one of the characteristics
of habit action is to continue on without change even after the
mind has apparently recognized that a change should be made.
Success comes not from the mere _word_ knowledge of these
things, but through action.
Of the many elements on which industrial development depends, the
question of specialization looms large.
Under the general term "specialization" we include all plans and
methods of work by which the scope of activity of man is
The highest degree of skill of artist or worker is attained by
concentration of energies to a restricted range of work. It is
through practice that the skill is acquired. The highest skill and
highest ability is attained by the degree of interested attention
and number of repetitions of a given kind of work.
Other things being equal, the practice, combined with keenness of
interest, makes the most successful man in a given profession or
Repetition of operation becomes an automatic (habit) action in
which man accomplishes the most work for a given expenditure of
These two results--proficiency and easy performance--are of
greatest value, but repetition of action, like nearly all good
things, is not without its drawbacks. An overdose of one kind of
work with a limited range of action frequently leads to dulling
the senses. This stultifying effect produces a most undesirable
result. The harm begins when there is a loss of interest in the
work, for it is through the interest that the progress is made.
The dividing line between the good and bad results varies with
different types of men.
The simplest tasks may become of intense interest to the scientist
and he may achieve great success in a work that to others seems
monotonous drudgery. But with all its drawbacks it still is the
best way for man to work and while we must labor to eliminate the
condition of drudgery, we must face the plain fact that
competition between men, industries, states and nations makes it
absolutely necessary to specialize.
Specialization by the men and groups of men will determine the
question of superiority of advance in science, industry, commerce,
general wealth and welfare, as well as military strength in the
time of war.
While we have clearly before us the degrading effects of
repetition of distasteful tasks; we must not ignore the other
The opposite condition is the employment of energies of mind and
body in ways that cannot produce high degree of ability. With such
desultory use of energies, a day's work is of relatively small
value, and there is no progress.
Of the two extremes we find the most prevalent to be the
scatter-brain and scatter ability type.
The industries of the higher type lead in providing the best
implements and in organization of best team work by which each
worker produces the greatest value for a given expenditure of
The essential bearing Of these facts is that the worker as well as
the business man should compare his work with the work of others
with whom he is in competition.
In these days of long distance transportation our competitors in
the market may be a long distance away.
If it is in agriculture, the question of climate, soil and degree
to which highly efficient implements can be used, are important
If it is in the professions we must see how we can acquire the
greatest proficiency and opportunity. This again involves the
question of the extent to which we must specialize.
The measure then of success is the value of our services as
compared with the services of others.
One of the important problems in industrial management is the
extent to which specialization should be practiced.
On one hand we see the ill effects of a routine repetition where
there has been an overdose of repetition--one that has gone beyond
the beneficial point--and on the other hand, we find that the
greatest achievements in the sciences and professions have been
wrought by those who have concentrated in a way that has given
them a higher development. Unfortunately in many of the
industries, the development of machinery has gone forward with the
sole end in view of dollars and cents, disregarding the effect on
This is to be found in some of the industries in which originally
there was an opportunity for the worker to have a keen interest in
his work. Mention is made of this situation as it comes about with
certain stages of development of the manufacturing processes. It
is unfortunate and something that the engineers and managers
should endeavor to eliminate.
We have very few of such industries in Vermont; they can broadly
be classed as undesirable industries. The fact that there are such
industries should not in itself drive us from the scheme of
working by which men specialize. We should, however, see to it
that the degree of repetition of operation goes only to the
beneficial extent. Our greatest trouble in Vermont has been the
wasteful scattering of each man's energies over a variety of
Competition with the outer world makes it absolutely necessary
that we use our energies in the most effective manner; that most
effective manner is the one by which through repetition and
experience we acquire skill and ability. The important matter to
decide is the degree to which we can specialize. This degree
varies with the work and the individual. To an alert and active
mentality routine work becomes drudgery, while to the opposite
type, mental work is annoying. In an industry, men gradually fit
in with the most suitable work. Each man's job should be one that
is best for him.
Nothing has been said thus far regarding the invention of new
forms of articles to manufacture, or of new methods of machinery
for manufacturing articles. These elements and many others are
necessary in order to complete a successful plant, but the
fundamentals embraced in a statement regarding the habit-action of
man represented by special ability and skill acquired by
experience, and the habit-action of the group acquired in the same
way, constitutes a measure in determining the way at ninety per
cent of the cross roads in industrial progress. Anyone undertaking
the creation of a new organization or the management of a going
concern must grasp these facts.
The value of experience, if acquired in an industry where such
fundamental principles have been recognized, should be given the
highest rating. Experience, however, in an industry where the
energies of men were not most effectively employed and where there
was not a recognition that the effective employment of man's
energies require a general development of mind and body up to the
man's capacity, cannot be counted as wholly good unless, through
force of purpose, there is the strength to adopt a new path.
[Footnote text: A revision of material originally under title of
Human Factor in Works Management by James Hartness, published by
McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., New York.]
The navigator in preparing for a voyage carefully examines each of
his instruments. He must know the present error of his chronometer
and its rate of change, and its general reliability as indicated
by its past record. He must also know errors in his compasses for
each point, and he should have the fullest information regarding
the degree of reliability of every other means on which his
success depends; and, last but not least, he must accurately
determine his starting-point or point of departure.
In taking up the subject before us we will do well to follow his
In doing so, our task will be to examine two principal elements:
one, the means on which we depend for interpreting the information
that is available; and the other, the source and character of the
The means may be considered analogous to the navigator's
instruments, and is no less a thing than the brain or mental
machinery; and the information is simply the world about us as
seen in the existing things, such as machinery, methods, popular
notions, textbooks, etc., all of which may be classed as
environments, and may be considered as analogous to the charts and
other publications of our worthy example.
Like the mariner, we must determine the degree of reliability of
all these sources of information and our means for interpreting
When we have ascertained this we will know what allowance to make
from the "observed" to get the actual facts. With this knowledge
we will be able to accurately determine both our starting-point
and best course.
The importance of considering our own minds will be seen when we
realize that every new fact taken in must in a measure conform to
the previous ideas. If some of these old ideas are erroneous, the
mind must be more or less ready to discard them. It is very
difficult to dislodge deep-seated convictions. Contradictory ideas
are not assimilated. Only one of them is actually accepted. Even
when to the objective reasoning they seem false, they frequently
continue to control our actions.
Since we are loaded with the popular ideas which we have absorbed
from our environment, it will be well for us to begin by
critically examining our environment and the process by which
ideas have been taken in. This may enable us to put out some of
the erroneous views, and perhaps more firmly fix the true ideas;
thereby preparing the mind for a more ready acceptance of what
otherwise would be barred out as contradictory.
We shall not go deeply into the psychology of the subject, as it
will not be necessary to go contrary to or beyond the well-known
We shall not try to locate the man or refer to him as the ego or
inner man. We shall simply say that we know that we can use our
brains to think on any subject, and we can use our senses to
collect information regarding any chosen subject.
Our senses and mental faculties can be directed to consider one
element in a business, and for the moment be unmindful of the many
other elements. In other words, we can to a certain extent manage
our mental processes. Just as a horse can be managed, so may we
manage our brains. A driver may carefully control the expenditure
of energy and the course traveled, or he may throw the reins over
the dash and allow the horse to go his own gait and route. In the
same way we may manage or mismanage our brains.
Good Results with Moderate Effort.
A faster pace will not be advocated, for the present gait is
overstrenuous. We hope, however, to point out a way by which good
results may be obtained with, moderate effort.
If, in the past, the brain has been found wanting, we should not
lose confidence in its reliability until we have seen how it has
Under some conditions its interpretations are absolutely correct;
in fact, under all conditions that would be called fair in testing
other kinds of mechanism.
Unfortunately, these conditions have not always existed. Opinions
regarding important matters have been formed when accurate
mentation has been impossible.
Physical Condition of Worker.
If the use of the machine induces either an adverse mental
attitude or physical condition of the worker, it will sooner or
later be adverse to the economic success of the machine.
We have indicated some of the problems and have suggested the
well-known method of mental control for this purpose. A keen
observer of men and machinery may not require as much of the
so-called practical experience; another may need many years of
The practical experience in the various departments of machine
construction, its sale and its use, is undoubtedly almost
absolutely necessary for the average man in this work.
Its value is primarily to give an opportunity to see things in
actual operation. The shop affords an opportunity to see how a
machine stands up to its work, where it is weak, and a thousand
and one points that can best be seen in actual operation. But
there is still another phase that is comprehended more readily by
the practical experience, and this applies to the various
departments of business as well as to the works. It is the
knowledge of the men and their mental make-up and attitude.
A keen observer soon realizes that successful life in the
machinery world will not come easily to any one who lacks a good
understanding of others in the field.
Capacity for New Ideas.
The assimilating capacity of the industrial world is the real
gauge of the progress which should be indulged in. This capacity
to take in new ideas and to work by new methods is not the same in
all beings, and it is not the same in all organizations. There are
ways by which it may be measurably increased. New views are more
readily digestible if presented by enthusiastic advocates, as this
stimulates an interest. Any attempt to forcibly inject new ideas
only results in indigestion.
The assimilating capacity of an industrial organization can be
greatly increased by any scheme that awakens an interest. The
controlling policies should include advance in efficiency and
generally in the quality of work turned out, but this advance
should not involve a break in the output. It mould be based on a
knowledge of the whole business. In other words, it should not
only pay in the long run, but if possible it should pay from the
moment it goes into effect.
We have said that all changes should be of the digestible kind,
and the feeding process should not be a stuffing process; that the
ingestion should not exceed the digestion. We have also briefly
mentioned the importance of keeping the digestion tuned up to the
best speed by having the organization in a condition to most
readily take in changes.
That we must make some allowance for inertia of thought and habit
in all mortals goes without saying, but the exact amount to be
allowed is very difficult to estimate.
Successful management depends on the degree with which a man can
estimate the receptivity of other beings with whom he deals. This
knowledge of receptivity should include the thought and action of
men all the way from the unskilled worker to the directors, and
also that of all men in other organizations in any way affected by
Just as food is more digestible if agreeable to the palate, so
this receptivity or assimilating power may be increased by
presenting new ideas and methods in agreeable form. A full
realization of the effect of this inertia of thought and habit
makes the great efficiency of specialization more comprehensible.
It is this human side that is the key, and if we do not act in
full accord with it we will probably be working against a great
The inertia works two ways. It hurts a progressive man just as
much to be tied to a work that requires no brainwork as it hurts a
sleepy member to be disturbed by progressive talk.
Money not the Only Dividend.
The major policies of management that should be known to the
inventor are those which have been adopted to make the business
pay. Not necessarily to pay in dollars and cents today, but to pay
in every sense, and in the long run, in dollars and in other
It cannot pay in dollars if the other things are missing. By other
things are meant good organization built on best conditions of
mind and body for each of the beings included in the organization.
On such things the stability of the organization depends.
No matter how much the manager of a business may wish to run it
for other things exclusively, or for dollars exclusively, he will
find that one is not attained without the other. He is forced to
run a business for the dollar if he wishes to make an ideal
organization for each member of the human family included in it.
And vice versa, he must work toward best conditions for all the
workers if he wishes to protect the capital invested by making a
stable and fairly long-lived organization.
This statement is inserted here to clear away doubts as to the
real value or necessity of "making a business pay," and to make it
clear that no thought is to be tolerated of any scheme of
management adverse to the real interest of the workers.
The men selected for each of the various positions should be men
who are fitted to fill these very positions. This does not mean
mere physical and mental fitness; it means each position should be
filled by one who wants it, one who knows he is "better off" in it
than in any other place he can find. Dissatisfied men are burdens.
It is better to have each position filled by a man who is barely
competent to fill it than to have it filled by a man who should
have a much better position.
Of course, this is the ideal, and all moves should be made in this
direction whenever it is possible. As a rule, it is easier to find
men on this basis than to find men who are bigger than the office.
This scheme leads to more promotions in the organization and has a
stimulating effect on all concerned.
Right Placing of Men.
The management's chief business should be to take man as he is
found on earth and place each one where he will accomplish the
best results for both the organization and himself.
Barring the disgruntled, the uncongenial and the habitually
inattentive, almost all men may be and should be profitably
employed, the prime requisite being reasonably close attention to
business. The thoughts must not habitually wander away from the
Intrigue disappears when the management quits looking for it, and
assures everybody, by the general method of conducting the
business, that there will be no chance to oust this or that man.
That each man will be retained in his place if he will but give
reasonable application to the general interest of the organization
and the particular work of his office.
The management does not "manage" if it perpetually changes its
men. It should bolster up the man who lacks self-confidence; it
should puncture false ambitions, and it should use men as they are
found in the organization. It should not be inclined to "go back
on" a man who has blundered or who has been found lacking in
It should not be over-ready to embrace a stranger just because his
faults are not known.
The financial hazard of a business enterprise is greatly minimized
by using men as they are found, and properly placing them at work
or in offices for which they are qualified.
We can neither regulate the complexity of our environment nor the
number of problems which we must settle within a given time.
But we can improve the conditions very much by avoiding
overconcentration on unimportant details. The brain's best time
and energy should be reserved for our own immediate problems; it
should not be hampered by details of others.
The various officers of an industrial organization should know the
ins and outs of the thinking machine on which they depend for
guidance. With such knowledge each brain will give the greatest
results, and without such knowledge the best brain may be
One of the important characteristics of the mind is its tendency
to lose sight of everything except the subject in mind. One danger
is dodged by jumping into another which we have not seen. Both
dangers were plainly in sight to any one who had not concentrated
on one of them.
In the regular every-day business life, we seem to have ample time
to consider each problem. But in reality our great length of time
is offset by a great number of elements to consider, and a more
profound effect of long continued teaching or molding of our
For years engineers have concentrated energies on the steam-engine
of the reciprocating type. The master-minds have made important
improvements in the design, and many have given up their entire
existence to the science of analyzing the effects of each
variation in conditions of working the steam.
Our textbooks, our teaching, our observation all concentrated our
attention on this type.
For some reason Gustav deLaval, followed by C.A. Parsons and
Nikola Tesla, broke away from this spell, and we have the steam
turbine engine. These individuals are endowed with master-minds,
but the task of producing the turbines was probably no greater
than the task of others in improving the reciprocating type.
In one case a great step has been taken. In the other, we have an
example of men of undoubted ability laboring hard for entire
lifetimes with relatively small gain.
This example applies to more than the inventors' world. It has
many parallels in the cold business management of a manufactory
and in any one of its departments. Business management requires
the same kind of reasoning and getting away from the spell of
environment. But this phase we shall consider later under another
The point to be brought out here is the effect of the spell of
environment in magnifying the importance of existing views and
methods, and the deceptive part this trusty brain plays in binding
us to unnecessarily hard work.
Cure for Mind Wandering.
The mind should not be allowed to wander, for wander it will if it
is not rationally directed. It should be furnished with some
interest, either in the form of study that is taken up out of
working hours, and which can be permitted to occupy the mind while
work of the habit kind is being done, or, if it is not a study,
there should be some wholesome interest or pleasure.
Music to some furnishes this need. Music heard in the home or
elsewhere will sometimes occupy the mind during working hours when
the work is of a monotonous character. In some instances music has
been provided during a certain part of the day, just for this need
of workers who are employed in an occupation that in itself
furnishes no mental nourishment.
But these extreme cases do not represent the vast majority. They
apply only to the needs of the mind of those engaged in a work in
which they can awaken no interest. Nearly all kinds of work offer
a chance for the average man to get interested directly in the
work itself. Such an interest soon bears fruit in the results as
well as in the comfort of the worker, and it is this phase on
which we must depend for making specialization comfortable and
profitable to the worker. It is this phase that is wholly
overlooked by those mentioned above who have seen or felt the joy
of work that comes to one who rambles into a new field. We fail to
see that the same kind of mental pleasure may be obtained while
working along the natural and efficient lines of habit, and that
in one case we have had pleasure at great expense of wasted
energy, and in the other case we may have made a true progress for
ourselves and others by moving along the rational way.
The Manager's View.
The important duty of weighing up these various views devolves on
the management, and its action should be in accordance with the
complete and corrected view. It must consider the subject from a
top viewpoint, and must then act.
The manager keeps in mind that the machines must be built,
purchased, and used by human beings, so he carefully studies their
peculiarities. He knows that change of thought or habit requires
In looking over the history of one of the companies engaged in
machine building, we find that the cost of the labor has been
lowered to about one-fifth of the original. In view of this and
the fact that a very slight change in model sometimes involves a
temporary increase in the cost of labor three-fold or more, we see
good reason for reluctance in making changes, even though we know
that two or three years later the labor cost may drop as low as
that previous to the change in model.
The inventor, the promoter, the salesman, and the oversanguine
manager do not always foresee such things.
The manager sees the enthusiasm with which the selling
organization hails the new model. He realizes that they know the
faults of the previous type, and he also knows that no one knows
the faults of the new, but he lets it go. Some enthusiasm must be
had, even if it be dearly purchased. He knows there will be many a
troublesome delay due to the newness, even if the whole scheme
proves very much better than the previous type.
This manager knows that his business success rests on the facility
with which the machines are satisfactorily built, the readiness of
the buyers, and, last but not least, the facility with which the
product is used. The facility with which the product will be used,
to his mind, is almost beyond overestimation.
Sub-division of Work.
The division of work into separate operations makes it possible to
divide the subject into relatively small sub-problems. This
division of the subject itself brings it within the capacity of
the lesser brains and makes it very much easier for a brain of
greater power. In other words, the subdivision of work makes
places in which all mental equipments may be used.
It is of no benefit to any one to keep the problems difficult by
making each man think out a process for accomplishing each one of
a great variety of operations, when the work may be so divided
that it is only necessary for him to think of just one little part
of the whole. And we should not befog the issue by saying that
this is degrading.
Some of the greatest scientists that the world has known have
concentrated attention to the smallest conceivable part of this
world, pieces so small that the microscope alone revealed them to
the eye. There is a chance for the thinker in most any of these
places that have grown out of this process of finest subdivision
of work. The hardship comes only when the mind cannot get
interested in the work. In many cases this is undoubtedly due to a
misfit, but in most cases it seems to be due to a false notion
that there is nothing there of interest.
The subdivision of work must go on. If hindered in any one plant,
industry or nation more than in others, the result will be a loss
to that one, and on the other hand, the one that carries it to the
most efficient point will become the most powerful.
This subdivision develops greatest dexterity and skill, as well as
the keenest comprehension of the ways and means of attaining a
given end. And this dexterity of operation is more easily carried
on than is the fumbling uncertainty of the work of the more
Care in Applying New Theories.
The manual worker's energies are so absorbed in the physical tasks
that he is annoyed by any suggestion to change his method. If he
were given the position at a desk he would probably be interested
in the progressive schemes for betterment of methods of work or
management of business.
Bearing this state of affairs in mind, it behooves the progressive
man to approach the problem of applying his theories in a very
careful manner. He must realize that the men in various parts of
the work are under stress of every day's requirements that makes
it very difficult to intelligently take up any new scheme of
procedure. Many an ideal doctrine is a beautiful thing in theory
but of little value if its introduction requires an immense but
unavailable energy to put it into practise.
He must realize that it is the doing of work that counts and that
the men who are doing things must not be annoyed. All plans for
betterment must conform to the assimilating power of the men and
must not cut off their food in time of change. In other words, the
new plans should be so matched on to the old methods that the
change to the new will not interrupt the production.
We have seen that the most efficient way to use man's energies is
to allow him to follow habit lines of thought and action, and that
the highest efficiency is reached when these habits are habits of
concentration of attention and are restricted to the smallest
variety of work.
Progressive energy is so valuable that it needs no praise at this
time. We have had its value stated so often that it is actually
over-rated in the average mind. Not that it has been over-valued,
but that the reiteration has obscured the importance of other
qualities. There should be a greater appreciation of the value of
energies that are wholly employed in accomplishing results by old
means and methods.
Progressive energy, when it is kept within certain bounds, is a
prime asset of an industrial organization. It is like a wholesome
amount of labor to man; it may be drawn upon without loss, and its
use actually strengthens its source. But when it is not wisely
kept in control it only annoys and interferes with real progress
and real accomplishment of results.
The only way to get work done is to let the worker move along
habit lines. The only way to progress efficiently is to make the
new ways and means lead off gradually from those in use.
The progressive man who actually directs work along such lines is
the most valuable to the world. The one who ignores the "moment of
inertia" is a disturber, whether he is a director or a "hewer of
wood and carrier of water".
The man who is doing the real work in the world is not the
so-called progressive. He is one who points out newer or better
methods which may be easily established by a gradual exchange of
old habits for new ones.
Profit by Experience.
In considering ways and means for efficient management of
industrial organizations, it is not necessary to commence at the
beginning of each plant. The method of dealing with the problems
of existing plants is also applicable to new organizations, for a
new organization is only new in a limited sense. It uses men of
experience. It uses existing machines and implements. It follows
existing methods of conducting business and in the general
management of its affairs.
Even the so-called new method which may be the center around which
the so-called new business is built contains very little that is
new. The newest things in the ordinary industrial world contain
many old and well-known elements. The very use of a so-called
new method or machine as a center around which to build an
organization is in itself so old that it is a confirmed habit with
us to be lured on to investing in such things by the statement
that some new process or means is to be employed.
A really new thing that calls for wholly new ways and new means
for manufacture is almost inconceivable. The nearer we approach to
newness in the industrial world the thinner becomes the ice on
which we are moving. Therefore, let us know that when we advise
following habit lines in all moves in management of an existing
organization we imply that the same course should be taken in
establishing a new company or organization.
In both cases we should employ existing ways and means,
experienced men and well-tried implements. Both old and new should
be conducted along the usual line in conformity with the state of
the art, the habits of the workers, and other conditions
indigenous to the locality. Any scheme of going contrary to the
existing customs and usage must be entered into with full
knowledge of the great need of patience, force and courage to
offset the barrier of inertia.
Dissipation of Energies.
This tendency to dissipate energies by wandering into other fields
is not confined to the worker; it is a most common tendency of
business men. A manager of an industrial establishment has to
continually combat his tendency to divert the energies of the
organization along new lines. He knows from past experience how
dearly bought is each new method that is introduced into his
organization. He knows for example that it would make all of his
men tardy at the plant in the morning if at the hour of arising he
has issued a request for each man to dress by carefully thinking
out each move. He knows that the day's work would never be well
done if he asked each one to think before acting.
Even conversation comes under the law of habit. It must follow the
line that has been carefully thought out.
We all know that when a man talks on subjects with which he is not
familiar his words carry little weight.
The so-called spontaneous utterances that seem so full of life and
are apparently the product of flashed thought are either the
welling up of some subconscious ideas quickly reconstructed to fit
the situation or they are a haphazard jumble either meaningless or
conveying an unintended impression. They are generally in the
humorous line and frequently make an impression that was not
anticipated by the utterer.
The really useful talk and work is the result of wholesome habit
of thought and action.
Tying up Capital in Stock in Process of Construction.
The amount of capital tied up in raw material supplies, stock in
process and finished product should not be greater than that which
is necessary to get the greatest output per dollar of investment.
In the machinery-building world there is no such thing as a steady
long-lived demand for any machine. Hence the proposition to build
a locomotive or printing-press by methods employed in watch or
sewing-machine manufacture is entirely ill-timed at least.
For this reason the stock in process must not necessarily be
considered insufficient if it appears to be on the hand-to-mouth
plan. The dividing line between excessive and insufficient stock
must be drawn in each individual case.
Raw material should be purchased in reasonable quantities with due
regard to the price which varies with quantities but there should
always be a regard for the amount of capital used for this
purpose. Any excess represents just that much extra capital
unnecessarily risked in the business.
There should be a constant supply of material throughout the
entire work. The stock in process should flow through the plant in
a rapid but thin stream. The quantity should be no greater than
absolutely necessary to insure a steady supply for all of the
workers, including the assembling and selling workers.
An excessive stock of this or that piece, or of all pieces, means
that much capital idle, and it also tends to slackness of
management. Frequently it is the outcome of carelessness.
A slip-shod management that disregards this point will use no care
in purchase of material or in putting in the shop orders. All that
is needed is to just hurry forward the stock that "happens" to be
"out", and at the same time allow the accumulation of the unneeded
stock to go on unchecked.
Immense storerooms for keeping finished stock are shown with
pride, unmindful of the fact that every dollar's worth of
unnecessary stock on the shelves in the stockroom, every dollar's
worth of unnecessary work in the plant, represents idle money and
If this money is to be retained in the business, the system should
be changed so that the money will be put where it will bring the
The excessive stock in process is sometimes an outcome of blind
progressiveness--the blindness that fails to see that there is as
much money tied up in stock in process and in finished product as
there is in the entire machinery equipment.
An adaptable equipment facilitates keeping down the amount tied up
in stock in process. The modern plant should take advantage of
these modern methods and machines which tend toward profitable use
of capital. Such machines are highly developed and true to the
controlling ideal of adaptability and largest output per dollar of
Cost of the Product.
The practice of disregarding the profit, when considering changes
in machine equipment, is the natural outgrowth of the separation
of the mechanical and the business departments.
The changes in the equipment are usually determined by the
mechanical department, and this is done with particular regard for
the quality of work and the cost per piece. The relation between
the profit and the net labor cost is not considered.
The cost of the product of the average machinery-building plant
may be divided into three nearly equal parts: the material, the
labor, and the burden; or, in four equal parts, if a reasonable
interest charge is made for the use of the capital invested.
The material is the iron, steel and other material that enters
into the construction of the machine, and it is taken in the
condition in which it usually comes to the machine shop.
The burden includes all expenses and salaries necessary for the
maintenance of the business.
About one-half the amount paid for labor goes to the men who run
the machine tools, and the other half is paid to workmen who do
the other work, such as handwork, assembling, transporting, etc.
Therefore, the cost of machining is either one-sixth or one-eighth
of the total cost.
On top of the net cost of the product there should be a profit. If
it is not there, the sooner something happens the better. If it is
there, then it is proportioned to the volume of the output.
Therefore, both the size of the output and the labor cost should
be kept in mind.
The size of the profit per unit of output is not generally known
to the mechanical departments. But even if it is not known, there
is no reason for their being uninformed as to the importance of
large output for cost of the plant.
Largest Profit Per Dollar Invested.
One of the most satisfactory policies of management is that which
tends toward getting the best return or profit per dollar of
We shall not refer to the quality of the product, the design, or
any other elements which affect the good name and standing of the
business, for it goes without saying that no business can be
maintained where these are disregarded. The point to be brought
out here is that, These thing being equal, the best scheme of
management for profit is one that puts the capital where it will
do the most good.
The above statement is one with which all will agree, but
strangely enough there has been a tendency to tie up capital in
ways that actually throttle the output of the entire business.
Furthermore, this is frequently done by increasing the portion of
the investment that is irrevocably tied to the existing product,
thus not only reducing the earning power of each dollar invested,
but also increasing the hazard by tying the capital to the present
product, which soon may be unsuited to the market demand.
One of the most common errors in this respect is the one that
regards the reduction of the labor cost as the paramount
Reduction in labor cost has been the war-cry. The pay-roll has
been talked about so much that it has seemed to become the whole
thing. A man who declares that the labor cost per piece is not the
most important element is at once branded as an advocate of
It is needless to give assurance that there is no intention to
disregard the labor cost. The net cost per piece is a very
important element, but it should neither eclipse the question of
profit per dollar invested, nor the risk of the capital tied up.
What is the gain if the means for reduction of the net labor cost
reduces the profit more than the saving in labor? If doing so
results in an actual loss of profit, why is it done?
We can readily see that the overhopeful managers may disregard the
risk of the money invested, but we cannot see why the relative
importance, or rather unimportance, of the labor cost should be so
The machine tools in a plant usually determine its character. This
character is not one that can be quickly changed, but every
addition to the equipment does change it for better or worse.
Usually the installation of a new machine is hailed as a
progressive move, just because the new machine works better than
the old, but its effect may be very bad. It may be changing the
character of the plant adversely to the interests of all
concerned. Therefore, the controlling spirit should see to it that
each move is made on a basis that is economically sound.
It is in these changes that the scheme of management has a chance
to make a great difference in the earning power of the entire
If too large a proportion of the total available capital is tied
up in the machine equipment, the business is handicapped. There is
a right amount which bears a certain relation to the total
required to carry on the enterprise.
With a given amount of capital for machine equipment, the output
of the plant will be seriously throttled if the net cost of labor
per piece machined is allowed to become the controlling element.
The Workers Help Bring Success.
The inventor, the officers, and mayhap the foreman, taken all
together, do not and cannot make a successful machine or business
without this supplemental work or ideas that come from actual work
of all workers.
This new kind of knowledge should not take away a man's courage;
on the contrary, it should give him a true sense of value of
existing, "going" things. With this knowledge he can confidently
and earnestly push a machine that is the product of a good
organization. He will know the great value of much experience and
practise of each of the many men in the organization. He will
neither kill the business by half-hearted indorsement, nor
increase the hazard of investment by urging this or that
modification. Nor will he advocate this or that machine being
added to a line that is already too great.
The invention, the general organization, the proper direction of
the business, are essential to success. But without that
organization which is only obtained by actual, thoughtful
experience of the men who do things, all the knowledge and
industry of the leaders are utterly useless.
This knowledge produces a new kind of confidence that has greater
faith in the existing and running things than in the claims for
something that has not had the development of practice. It is the
confidence that knows that the right fundamental ideas and the
policy of "sticking to one thing" will accomplish the best
This is not a doctrine of optimism that holds there is no inferior
machine. The "best" implies the existence of the inferior. In
nearly all lines there are many grades from the best to the worst,
but the loss of faith in the relative value of a machine is most
commonly due to a lack of full knowledge of the other types, and
it is this kind of loss of courage, confidence, or whatever it may
be, that this chapter is intended to offset.
Have Faith in Your Products.
What has been said regarding the optimist, the pessimist, and the
vacillating man, from the designing and manufacturing point of
view of a machine business, applies with equal force to the
The business is pushed forward by men who have confidence in the
project and in the product. If these men lose their faith in their
own business, they not only lose their usefulness as pushers and
managers, but they become drags on the industry, and remain so
until restored to normality. The hazard of investment is greatly
increased by such conditions.
Instances without number have been observed in which men who have
been successful have become unsuccessful through loss of
confidence due to acquiring the "dangerous half-knowledge."
The man who has acquired the dangerous half-knowledge should take
a post graduate course in some institution where men are treated
by all the most powerful agencies known to science. There may be
no institutions of this kind in existence, but the great need will
doubtless bring the establishment of many.
The men who have lost faith in their own machinery should be told
that no company can survive the effects of weak-kneed advocates.
Any company is better for a certain amount of aggressive
competition. Any company can stand more or less opposition from
its friends the enemy, but no company can continue to exist under
the blighting effects of the men who have lost this confidence in
them or their product.
The post graduate course for restoration of the near-wise man
should include educational means of all kinds. The means should be
especially adapted to the need of each student or patient.
There might be a phonograph in each room, which should work all
night and all day. This machine should repeat over and over a few
short sentences like the following:
"The only perfect machine is the one you do not know."
"Study the machines offered by your competitors, just to get the
same degree of knowledge of the 'other' machines--not for the
purpose of slandering or even mentioning--but just to restore your
confidence in the relative value of your own machine."
"Don't try to get back your belief that your own machine is
perfect--that has gone forever--only look at the other machines
and learn that your own is the best."
This kind of confidence will not be exuberant, but it will have
marked efficiency in the cold gray world in which you are to again
try your strength.
We find that in keeping with the trend toward specialization, the
machine shop is now manned and directed by specialists, whose
close application to the technical science of their respective
specialties has in a degree obscured other elements with which
their interests should be coordinated. Among these we generally
find the so-called human element. This feature of specialization,
which is the natural result of concentration and undivided
attention to the work in hand, has entailed a string of
consequences that has lessened the spirit of fellowship and
The workman in the old machine shop was known as a machinist, an
apprentice or a helper. The machinist trade required skill at
bench, vise and forge, and in the operation of the lathe and
planer. It also required a general knowledge and resourcefulness
which enabled the machinist to make good with the meager
facilities. The large specialized shop of today was not known.
Today the machine shop is filled with a variety of machines which
have grown out of the original types. Each shop's equipment is
selected to serve the needs of that shop, and since each shop has
a special purpose, its equipment seldom includes the full range of
Today the work flows through the machine shop in lots of large
numbers of pieces of a kind, and each machine, as well as each
worker, is kept at one kind of work and usually at one simple
The worker in the machine shop of today is no longer known as a
machinist, because that term does not cover the present
range of positions. Even the term "all-round machinist" is no
Specialization has made so many divisions in the work that it has
resulted in developing men for special branches, so that today we
have relatively few men who can skillfully operate for instance
the engine lathe and planer. Even if there are those who ever had
that ability, most of them have lost it through disuse.
The workers are now designated by many names indicating their
The all-embracing term machine shop is divided into departments
for drafting, designing, accounting, production, flow of work
control, cost accounting and many other divisions. Each calls for
executives and workers having special titles.
The subdivision of work has resulted in each executive and worker
acquiring a high degree of ability and skill for work of his kind,
and it keeps each one doing the highest class of work for which he
is qualified so that his time is not wasted in the simpler
operations which can be performed by men of lesser ability.
We can readily see the economic gain that accrues when the worker
becomes more efficient; first, though the greater skill acquired
as a result of fewer operations to perform, and second, through
the use of the highly developed special machines, for then he is
able to produce a greater value for a given expenditure of effort.
We can also see the gain that results from specialization by the
executives, for each one's attention is concentrated to the
management of a smaller range of work; but the average mortal has
not yet reached the point of accepting the fact that to some
extent there should be a division between mental and physical
tasks. It is needless to say that no one in these days would
suggest even a possibility of a general division of the work along
the line between the abilities of the brain and hand and in these
days of construction and operation of intricate mechanisms like
electric and telephone instruments and machinery, aeroplane,
automobiles, railroad machinery, machine shop machinery, army and
navy machinery, from the smallest instrument and small arms to the
big machines like the battleship. The need of the man in whom is
combined the ability of brain and hand transcends any possibility
of our meeting the demand. But specialization does require both
kinds of division. The one that divides along the line between
mental and physical tasks provides great opportunities for those
men who have special ability at either the mental or physical
tasks. It is undoubtedly true that the greatest achievements have
been attained by those who have been unable to combine the great
mental and physical ability. Such men by nature and preference are
most fitted and most comfortable in the positions in which there
is a greater proportion of use for either the brains or fingers.
Every student of this subject early recognizes that the man at the
physical task should not be unnecessarily distracted by the vexing
problems of planning and directing the work. In some way this does
not seem to fit a democracy, but rather seems to lead toward
autocracy. However, let us keep in mind that specialization is
essential, not only at each physical task, but at the tasks at
which there may be expended a combination of the mental and
physical, and also at those tasks that are wholly mental, and that
a division should be made to get the best results from the whole
organization. While it may seem autocratic to leave to one group
the determination of the methods of work, and to another the task
of doing the work, the fact remains that this is an element of
specialization. That which seems so objectionable to a man with an
alert mind, is not so objectionable when he realizes that many men
of the highest type are happiest when given a chance to work out
tasks unembarrassed by problems of procedure. While this has been
one of the great tragedies of industrial life, when square pegs
have been put in round holes, it is one of the most important
questions that an engineer has to consider.
The human view will make us all labor towards the complete
elimination of degrading tasks, by changing machinery and
processes so as to fit the various types of men available. Through
it all, we must see to it, that our scheme of work is true to the
fundamental law of specialization, and that we recognize that
there must be some division between the physical and mental tasks,
and that this does not necessarily lead away from democracy. In
fact, we must recognize there are two extremes. At one extreme we
find the ideal of a highly specialized organization in which the
greatest value in quality of work and quantity of output is
possible through a complete co-ordination of the work of all types
of men, each at his own kind of work, in which each can excel; and
the other extreme in which we find a general disorganization which
returns us to the primitive condition in which man's energies were
most inefficiently used. Such a state is the natural result of
anarchy, and it is a state that would leave this or any other
country an easy prey to a country in which specialization existed.
One means team work of great wealth-producing capacity, and the
other a state in which the struggle for mere existence would be
The salvation of the world will be worked out if there is at least
one well disposed nation that stands firmly for specialized
industrial organizations. This will result in both industrial and
military supremacy--for it is now well known that military
supremacy cannot exist without the highest types of machinery
Such a nation could dominate all others and could ultimately check
the disorganizing activities of the well-intentioned but
The higher form fits our highest civilization and national
security, and the other is a direct step toward chaos.
Nevertheless there is almost a stampede of sentiment against
specialization and its product--the large industrial organization.
This stampede has taken many of our otherwise well informed
people, and now we are seeing its extreme effect in the
iconoclastic fever that is raging in Russia and elsewhere.
We know that the individual, the industry or the nation that
specializes will produce the greatest results with a given
expenditure of energy, and we know that all this plan of
specialization requires a co-ordination of the work of all.
There should be brought about through specialization the highest
degree of ability on the part of the executive officers, as well
as the highest skill of the workers, and each man should have the
satisfaction of knowing that no one on the face of the globe can
excel him at his specialty, and furthermore that his energies are
expended in the best way to produce value.
Many men have already realized this ideal. Many industrial
organizations have also attained it in a very high degree,
and while there was a trend of some of the nations toward
specialization before the war, there was developed in America a
spirit of antagonism toward the large units that had grown up as a
result of this specialization. Not that specialization was
objectionable, but that industrial supremacy of an organization
was thought to be a distinct menace.
Since it is in these specialized industries that the individual
should find his best opportunity to produce the greatest wealth
for a given expenditure of effort, such organizations should be
maintained and all others should be gradually changed over so as
to make the most economical use of the man power of the nation.
We have found by experience that industrial organizations are
successful if they specialize. We have handed down to us the
saying that "The Jack of all trades is master of none". Our brains
accept these statements, we recognize them as facts, but owing to
one of the irrational traits of the human being, it is one
thing to believe and another to practice. It is one thing to
superficially know that it is important for us to specialize as
individuals, and it is quite another matter to bring ourselves to
act in conformity with this fundamental law.
The great economic gain or advantage possessed by the Ford
Company, and many of the other companies in this country, is not
due to the fact that they have selected a wonderful model that is
superior to others in every way, but it is based on the fact that
specialization makes it possible for the various officers and
workers to become the foremost men in their respective offices.
Specialization of an industry becomes effective only when each man
continues at a given job or work. Shifting men about the plant is
harmful, excepting in so far as it may be good to promote men from
position to position to fit the development of the men and the
industry. The plant can be wrecked by changing men from position
to position without changing the product. It can also be, wrecked
by changing the form of its product in fact any change, whether it
is a change of the product or a change of the men, which
interferes with the continuity of operation of a man along habit
lines is an economic loss to that organization.
We have stated that each man should specialize in order to produce
the greatest value for a given expenditure of energy--that
specialization of the industries is necessary.
That each man has some special knowledge that fits his
That the skilled worker has a special knowledge for his duties.
We have pointed out the need of a closer relationship between the
specialists. That they are all interdependent and must cooperate.
In setting forth the importance of the worker we must remember the
equal importance of every other member of a well-balanced
Lay directors and even lay chief officers are not necessarily a
menace or even burdens, if they have a fair conception of human
nature and the importance of each element in an organization, and
the full necessity of coordination of all.
They should know, however, that every man should be paid first in
cash and second in honor, appreciation, esteem, good will
inspiration, commendation for his good work and good qualities,
careful consideration of his troubles and a genuine knowledge that
his interests are being justly considered.
The following chapter is given in its original form as a lecture
to the Engineering Society of the Stevens Institute of Technology.
Its value in furnishing a side-light on the subject of habit, to
which the preceding chapters have been more directly applicable,
lies in its emphasis on the importance of the inventor (or
designer, if you prefer) having clearly before him at all times
the effect of habits of thought and action both in himself and in
all others. These modes must be both conserved and combated in
himself when building up favorable mental state. He must build on
habit in order to have his mind continue in its application to a
chosen subject, and he must combat any tendency to follow habit
lines of thought that may have been established by observation of
the older forms or methods. His inventions must be of a kind that
will be readily made, sold, and used by men whose habits of
thought and action he cannot readily change.
This should be of value not only to the designer, but also to
those who direct or co-operate with him.
In designing the parts of a machine, the need of trimming here and
there, of giving up this or that ideal form just to get things
together, must be seen and done unflinchingly. And in the same way
the whole scheme must be made to conform to the economic
If the machine under consideration is like a machine tool, and is
to be offered for sale, then the manufacturing, selling, and use
must be taken into account. In machine-tool design a wholly new
invention is an exceedingly rare thing, and a successful new
machine is still more rare.
We must remember our own tendency to follow precedent, and we must
make an effort to see the problem in its natural form without
being misled by the solutions evolved by others.
The toughened idealist may not look or act like an idealist,
but in reality his idealism is one of the practically-wise
construction. He allows his memory to hold all that is helpful of
the past, both of the blunders or successes.
The dreamer who has been toughened by experience is one who lets
his rational brain have control. He ranks next to the stalwart
knight of the eraser, because he has the courage to arrest the
endless tinkering of design in order to get something done. He
will not let the family freeze while he is thinking up some grand
scheme of sawing and splitting wood by magic.
A most cursory glance at the machinery in use in the world will
show that the work has been done by imperfect machines. A study of
the design of any machine brings out the innumerable shortcomings.
If we see a machine that seems perfect, it is perfectly safe to
set it down in black and white that we do not fully comprehend it.
It is safe to say that the only perfect machine is the new model
that is to be tried very soon.
With these facts in mind it does not require very much courage to
go ahead with an imperfect design, but unfortunately these
thoughts will not stay in the mind of the average designer. They
are crowded out by the flood of ideas for still further
betterment. That is why it is just to give high rank to the man
who had courage to go ahead and build, even when he realized the
faults of a design.
Perhaps one of the aids to this action is the knowledge that the
apparent opportunity to improve a design may only be apparent. In
reality the change is only a change, and is no betterment, a very
common outcome of such ideas. The knowledge of the great array of
failures of such "improvements" is wholesome and helpful to bear
The Inventor Sees Opportunities to Improve.
The inventor, from his point of view, sees the great need
and opportunity to improve the design of the machine being
manufactured. He sees that the big machines are nothing but
enlarged editions of the early and smaller ones. He knows that
with a change of size there should be a change of design. He knows
that although a granite rock weighing a few tons will not be kept
suspended in air by a heavy wind, a small part of the same rock
will be carried away by a breeze, and may be kept suspended by a
very slight current of air. He knows that the small particle of
granite has a greater superficial area in proportion to its
weight. He sees on every hand that a change of dimensions
frequently entails a change of design.
He also sees the opportunity to effect a great saving by building
the large machine for its special service, and not on the exact
lines of the smallest model. The failure of the management to
adopt his plans seems nothing less than unreasonableness to the
inventor, for like other mortals he is a trifle slow at grasping
the fact that no two beings have exactly the same point of view or
the same quality of sight.
Another inventor sees a chance to make further improvements and he
is disturbed because there is a ban on changes. He feels that the
mechanical success of his previous work should be a sufficient
guarantee of the economic advantage of the last proposed plan.
If an attempt is made to show him that the ban on changes is
absolutely necessary from an economic point of view, it is found
that the reasoning does not get the same reaction in his mind as
in that of the manager. To him the great advance of the new scheme
fully warrants the temporary expense.
Improvements May Be Disasterous.
Improvements should be sparingly made. Any improvement that
requires a change in construction or operation may be disasterous
This may all seem extremely pessimistic. But it is only seemingly
so. Experience shows it to be the true view.
If it is true, then the machine designer should know it. A mere
knowledge of mechanism is insufficient for him. A large business
experience cannot be purchased, and his success should not be
contingent on the business ability of another. He should know how
a machine should be designed, and should not depend too heavily on
the views of the business men who have not a clear knowledge of
the technical problem.
Perhaps some of you may feel that there are many other problems to
be encountered before you will meet these which I have set forth.
But we should remember that the mind holds some of such
impressions a very long time. It holds them below the threshold of
conscious thought, and under ideal working conditions it brings
them above it when they are needed.
If you have caught my meaning you will not be weakened in
enthusiasm for new work, but you will be protected in a measure
against some of the reaction due to disappointment. There is a
great field for earnest workers, and it is easy to become one by
working on the lines set forth.
One of the first questions that arises in the mind of one who
intends to undertake machine design is, what constitutes natural
fitness for it. There seems to be no positive basis on which to
determine in advance a natural fitness for this work, but there
are certain temperamental characteristics that undoubtedly have
much to do with the success.
The temperament should be one favorable to continuity of thought
along a given line, as well as one that will by nature take an
intense interest in the subject.
If these characteristics are missing, it may be due more to the
distracting interests that in these days crowd in upon the mind,
than to a lack of natural aptitude. The absorbing interest,
however, is essential, and it may be developed by conforming to
well-known principles of orthodox psychology. Self-torture or hard
driving is not nearly as helpful as a strong inner purpose to keep
the chosen subject in the real center of conscious thought.
The subject that comes to mind when there is a lull in the outside
demands on the attention, or one that is insistent on taking
possession of the mind, even when other matters are objectively
more in evidence,--that subject is the one that holds the center
of the inner attention. That is the controlling idea or purpose.
Ordinarily, it is some diversion; occasionally, the haunting
bugbear of some unfinished work or obligation. If the mind is
dominated by such ideas or any other than the real problem in
hand, the individual is seriously handicapped.
When a problem of machine design is undertaken, the mind must make
it the real center of attraction. To one having an average
endowment for such work, this is not a difficult task, but to get
the best results it should be rightly undertaken.
A chosen subject is brought, with some lasting effect, to the
center of attention by repeatedly bringing it into the mind at the
moments of lull in the pressure of other affairs. The astronomers
wait for the moment of best seeing, and the designer must wait for
the actual psychological moment.
The best seeing condition for the astronomer is due in a small
measure to his own physical condition, and in a large measure to
atmospheric conditions, but the most opportune time for
clear-headed vision of the designer is due mostly to his own
physical and mental condition.
Probably no two men have their minds equally affected by their
environment or their physical condition, but the fact that there
is a most favorable time and condition for such thought and work
should continually be borne in mind. Without this a man with
natural endowment may try his wings at flight at an inopportune
time, and if he fails he may be firmly convinced that he was never
made for flying.
This undoubtedly applies equally well to other kinds of work. It
may not be strictly true of a perfectly normal man (if there be
such a creature), but it is truly applicable to many workers in
this and similar kinds of work.
This phase is mentioned in order to make clear, not only how a
designer should work, but the thought that should be kept
uppermost in the mind of one who is trying to do this work.
The physical condition is more or less dependent on the mood, and
to a great extent the mood is dependent on the condition of the
body. The strenuous gait is seldom the best, and, of course, the
extremely indifferent one is of little value. The best for the
average man is one born of a quiet environment, with mind and body
in a fairly restful condition, or still better, in a rested and
The quiet end of the day is almost as good for clear thinking as
the early morning, especially if the day has not been overstrenuous
and the activities have been gradually tapered off.
There are many instances that would seem to show that the
strenuous gait is the best, but nearly all of these evidences are
questionable. When finally simmered down, the good work done under
high pressure is frequently due to latent ideas that were the
product of quiet thinking. The mood and the dominant idea may be
predicated as necessary.
As already stated, the habit of thought most favorable for the
persistence of a single group of ideas is attained by the practice
of switching the attention back to the desired subject.
This should be done at the opportune time. The subject should not
be forced on a tired mind. It should not be taken in as a painful
duty, but it should be made the one thing of interest. Really
valuable results can only come along the line of the dominant
thought. All other work lacks directness. It follows precedent to
an unnecessary extent.
Interest Must be Awakened, Not Forced.
Another way of saying all this is that the designer must get
interested in the particular problem, and he must have an interest
that crowds out all other thoughts, even thoughts of similar work.
It is useless, however, to say, "get interested in the work,"
unless we suggest a way to awaken interest. Surely, we know that
interest does not come at mere bidding, and that it cannot be
forced by hard work. But it can be induced by an easy process in a
normal being, providing he has not already too firmly established
a set of habit thoughts of another kind.
The normal being, by persistent intention, can establish the
desired thought habits by returning the preferred group of ideas
to mind. Interest is awakened by this comparatively easy process,
and when a genuine interest exists, the actual work follows as a
natural result, and it is a pleasure instead of a drudgery.
This is not intended as preaching in any sense; but only to bring
to mind facts known to all, with the view of implanting these
facts in the mind of the machine designer.
Some designers have done excellent work with no thought of
psychological problems. But in this more strenuous age it seems
best to take advantage of every aid to the desired end.
The intricacy of mechanism has reached such a state that new
designers are almost overwhelmed with the mere thought of trying
to comprehend the existing machines. But with the advance of the
world of machinery, there has been a better comprehension of the
working of the "thinking machine", and we must take advantage of
this knowledge in order to win out. It is particularly needful now
to study its most efficient use. We are getting to the point where
mental energy saving methods should be used.
It is not necessary to go beyond the bounds of orthodox science
for schemes for getting the best results from a given mind. We
have known for centuries that men tend to habits of thought as
well as action,--that thought habits are like ruts, and these are
encountered wherever the mind travels, and these ruts bring the
mind back to a certain central group or community of groups of
Establishing Useful Ruts.
The real secret of success is in establishing ruts of a useful
kind, ruts with switches that may be operated by the mind at will,
or that work automatically when the mind would otherwise wander.
Since even fleeting thoughts are germs of acts, it takes no great
effort or self-torture if we will but understand the processes and
smoke out the undesirable germs, and allow and encourage the
growth of the preferred groups of thoughts. This may be called a
lazy man's way of doing things, but it is the way to conserve the
mental and physical energy, and it gets results.
In saying that the problems of the work in hand should come
automatically and agreeably into the mind when there is a lull in
the impressions being made by other things, it is not the
intention to convey the meaning that one must have no other
The mind gets its clearest view by the scheme already mentioned
for creating interest, viz., by repeatedly bringing it back to the
subject whenever it is found wandering.
The best view for invention is that which reveals the most natural
way for accomplishing the purpose for which the machine is wanted.
It should not be born of precedent. It should not follow the lines
thought out by other designers.
It readily discovers the obsolete features in existing machines,
features that were required in other days but have no use now.
Such things remain there just because later designers have
All designers follow more or less. We have shown the great need of
following the set habits of users, but we should make a distinct
attempt to get back to nature; that is, to see just what is best
for the purpose, and to get the most direct and natural means. If
this is too much of a task, just hunt for the obsolete features.
Above all things, we must not try to follow another's work. We too
often follow unwittingly and to our misfortune even when we try to
keep out of the rut.
Machine designers who have done original work will tell us that it
is easier to do good work by striking out on new lines than it is
to follow the work of others, or even to tinker over some of their
own inventions of other years. It requires more ability to take up
the work of another and change it, than to start out in some
The machine builder knows that the success of any machine depends
on the clear-sightedness of his designer and the oneness of
purpose of all the heads of all the departments devoted to the
construction, sale, and oversight of the running machines in the
hands of the users. And last but not least, in these days of
supremacy of specialization, he knows that success comes only to
the largest group of men organized for this particular kind of
All Men are Human Beings.
One of the first things we learn in the works or office is that
all men are really human beings. The second one is that the
meanest one is only so because of certain physical or mental
conditions that are the direct result of natural law. Usually it
is not necessary to drag in heredity, for we find ample cause in
his environment, within our range of vision.
As a rule, a good understanding of men insures a wholesome regard
for them, while failure to understand the other fellow (or the
equivalent, the failure of the other fellow to understand us) may
bring out many things that make us feel that he is not one whose
feelings or interests should be considered.
To any one that has had experience in the shop and a fairly
well-rounded business and financial experience in this particular
field of work, the other fellow is invariably a good fellow whenever
there is a chance for a fairly complete understanding.
If we can accept this statement tentatively, and follow it up by a
determined purpose to actually feel it, then we have obtained
something by the royal process that would have otherwise required
much time and perhaps some unpleasant experiences.
This knowledge is essential to success in designing machinery.
True, many have been successful with a very different attitude,
but engineers of the future must see to it that as many of the
phases are as favorable as can be made so.
Regarding the absorption of the knowledge of working mechanism in
the works this is greatly facilitated by a wholesome relationship
with other workers, and it is greatly handicapped without it.
Therefore, it is one of the cardinal points for the machine
designer to get thoroughly acquainted with others in the work so
as to know their likes and dislikes, as well as the mechanical
The favorable features in machine designs are: directness of
mechanism for the purpose; its simplicity and its efficiency; its
adaptability to the habit of thought and action of makers and
The obstacles to its success are any of the features it may have
that cannot be readily comprehended by those who are to build,
sell, buy, and use these devices. It is of little value for real
success for a machine to be one that is readily understood by a
draftsman or manager, or that it is one that may be made to
perform wonders in the hands of a skilled expert.
The real economic success depends on the number of machines that
will be used. The number of machines that will be used depends on
the readiness with which the real workers take hold and manipulate
To get a true conception of the value of a machine, it is
necessary to look at the showing of a business engaged in its
manufacture. In estimating the value of a machine-building
business for this purpose it is customary to speak of its "good
Easiest Way to Improve.
Inventions of complete novelty and of great economic value have
attained success going in opposition to this principle of
conformity to the habit of the world. But the easiest way is to
direct improvements and inventions along lines that are the most
readily assimilated by the minds of the beings to be considered,
and this may be said to be one of the master-keys to economic
The work of building the first model of a new machine may be under
the direct supervision of the inventor, and if only one machine is
to be made, the inventor can follow it wherever it is used. By
patience and industry he may instruct some one in the use of it,
but in these days there is no chance for a great economic success
in making just one machine, or in fact any machine for which there
is not a large market. Hence, we will confine our attention to
machines made in such large quantities that the complete
supervision of manufacture, sale, and use is beyond the capacity
of one person.
For all such machinery the design must more or less conform to the
thought and habits of work of all concerned. Some of the most
direct designs have failed to meet with success just because the
inventor did things in an unusual way. The unusual way is a blind
way, and is difficult to find. In some instances it amounts to no
way at all, for it is never used.
If a radical change in design is to be made, the new machine
should be one that will be the most readily understood. Obscure
parts or unusual means should be avoided.
If moving parts must be covered, some way should be provided for
convenient observation. It is the obscure departure that is the
most troublesome, and it is the obvious thing that offers the
least resistance to progress.
There is a chance to progress by obvious devices, and such
progress is enjoyed by all, from the makers to the users. It
stimulates their weak but wholesome appetite for progress.
Technical View Insufficient.
But whether the clear view of the designer is due to peculiar
fitness for seeing such things, or to proper application, the fact
remains that this clear view of the technical side is insufficient
in itself. The man with the clear view must also realize that
others do not get the same view. He must know that the mind
automatically takes in things of interest to it and wards off
others. Even when the individual apparently tries to comprehend
something in which he has no special interest, it only results in
a superficial mental impression, one that has no appreciable
effect on the actions.
This failure of mankind in general to grasp the advantages of a
new mechanism as it appears on paper is only a slight part of the
troubles to be encountered by a progressive designer.
He has to contend with habits of thought and action of all the
human beings affected by the new machine. This includes the entire
group of men in the manufacturing plant in which the machine must
be made, the business organization both in this plant and the one
in which it is to be used, and, after all this, the greatest
obstacle of this kind is to be met in the man who uses the
machine. For it is in his hands that a machine must prove its
When we consider the inertia of mind and body, it is truly
marvelous that there has been any progress in machine design. In
fact, if the machine-building trade were in retrogression, with
only a few new men being taken in there would be little or no
excuse for making machine tools of new design. The older workers
would get along about as well without the improved machines.
This is not said in a spirit of fault finding. It is a great fact
that we should grasp if we are to design machinery successfully.
It is difficult for the man of sanguine temperament to really
accept this view, and it is also hard for one who is continually
searching for knowledge. But it must be appreciated, and all work
must conform to this principle, if it is to be pushed forward
along the lines of easiest progress.
Accepting this view is no barrier to progress. It will not
ultimately delay the work of a reformer if he is induced to act in
accordance with this principle. It only prevents a wreck.
The knowledge of the force of habit of man should therefore be
used in two ways:
First, when the designer is trying to make the most natural
machine for the purpose. Then he must overcome his own tendency to
follow precedent. Second, when considering the kind of a machine
that can be easily made, sold, and used, he must give due
consideration to the inertia of others, for their inertia he
cannot hope to quickly change. Reformers in this world generally
have a hard time whenever they under estimate the inertia of men's
minds and bodies.
A designer of machinery, by close application to his tasks, should
obtain a clearer view than it is possible for others to possess,
of the way a machine should be designed, made, and used. It is not
necessary to assume he has a better brain. An ordinary mind
applied to a given subject sees it more clearly than an abler mind
which has not considered the subject with the right interest.
Inventions Should Not Mix With Details.
In first working out the mechanical schemes no energy should be
wasted in trying to make the sketches correct in proportion. The
very functioning of the brain along the draftsman's line shifts it
away from the inventive mood. The exact drawing frequently shows
the necessity of change in general scheme, but that is only one of
The fundamental idea is the starting-point, and must be sketched
out as fully as possible without losing the very frail thread of
A clear view of the scheme is not to be obtained on demand. The
schemer must wait in patience, as the astronomer waits for steady
air, and, like the astronomer, he must have every facility in
shipshape. The clear view is only clear to the watching eye.
The coast-wise skipper in making a fog-bound harbor will see a
buoy through a slight shift in fog, while a landsman might look in
The wanderer in the happy dreamland of mechanical scheming must
not be looking for complete drawings, specifications, and working
model of the invention he wishes to bring into the breathless and
waiting world. He must be looking through the mist of the
thickened senses as the skipper looks through the fog. The buoy
and the scheme may be never so faintly shown, but yet with
sufficient clearness to give a positive guide for the course.
Inventive schemes cannot be forced by strenuous effort. Such
effort may result in slight refinements of a given type, but never
would have invented the DeLaval or Tesla turbine.
It is not my purpose to belittle the great work that has been done
in improving existing machines, for this, after all, is the real
great work that must be done. It is the work to which the world
owes its greatest debt for progress in material wealth.
Furthermore, it is a phase that must be considered in connection
with every invention before that invention can become of value to
any one. But just now we must consider how the inventor must work
while dreaming out the fundamental ideas of a mechanical scheme.
The clear view of a mechanical scheme is more likely to come after
a good night's rest, particularly if the schemer has retired with
the problem in mind. There are times when invention comes under
severe stress, hard physical work, and mental anxiety, but the
most usual time is after a sleep which refreshed mind and body.
After this the inventor brings his scheme to the drafting board,
to patent office, to factory, and to the market, and in each case
he encounters barriers.
Designing by the Square Foot.
The ordinary work of machine design, in which well-known parts are
grouped to accomplish a given end, without much thought of
attaining anything approaching the best,--such designing is like
painting a fence, so many square feet of paper should be covered
per day. But the real higher type of work cannot be measured in
this way. It requires the forethought, the close application, the
keen interest, and the comfortable idea building.
Designing by the square foot is, however, a good preparation, and
many a good brain has been developed by such work.
The importance of designing a machine to meet all the conditions
necessary to success from a mechanical and business standpoint is
fully recognized by every one. But the grouping of the ideas in
the mind while working out the various phases must not be hampered
by the bewildering picture of all of these problems, each
demanding consideration at every move. The phase in hand must have
the concentrated attention, and the best conditions for its
The harmonizing is an after-process which must be worked out by a
series of compromises after the various component elements have
been almost independently considered.
Problems to Consider.
In taking up the problems of design of a machine, there will be
found an almost endless number of elements to consider. The
strictly mechanical problem of the best machine for the purpose
never stands alone.
What is the measure of the best machine? How much can be spent on
its design and construction? How much work is to be done? An
endless variety of questions at once crowd into the mind for
It is doubtful if all the elements could ever be tabulated in any
form that would be a positive guide in shaping the final result,
but in a general way the designer should make a fairly good guess
at the kind of standard toward which he should work.
There are, doubtless, men capable of carefully weighing the almost
infinite number of variants, but such men usually lack the
intuitive scheme of work, on which the inventive side of a
For the ordinary mortal the best process of working is to keep a
vague picture of the whole requirement in mind while concentrating
on some one phase.
When the inventive qualities are to be called into use, the
economic side, the business side, the manufacturing, the selling,
the personal profit in cash or glory, all these must be absolutely
crowded out of the center of the mental picture. Even fleeting
thoughts of other elements seem to prevent the inventive
functioning of the mind.
In like manner the problems of manufacturing, selling, patents,
business organization, must each be given a separate consideration.
The interval between taking up the various questions should be
as wide as possible. The mind seems to require a previous notice
of days or weeks or more in order to take up any one of these
problems, at least, with any hope of success.
The Hero of the Eraser.
The drafting board may show that no such arrangement of parts can
ever be made, that the whole scheme must be altered to make it
practical. A real hero is required for the work of juggling the
elements of a drafting board. He must have patient endurance and
sufficient strength of character to use the eraser heroically, for
the eraser is mightier than the pencil in the drafting-room. There
are a thousand valiant knights armed with pencils to one stalwart
pusher of the eraser.
In the drafting-room the work of harmonizing must go on;
compromises must be made between the ideal scheme of the dreamer
and the requirements of the manufacturing and selling departments.
Next to the noble knight of the eraser comes the idealist who has
been toughened by experience in the cold world.
The idealist aims to design and construct a perfect machine. He is
encouraged in his work by seeing a little clearer each day, month,
and year of the time spent in the right kind of application to his
work. He knows that the work of last year is faulty, that this
year's work seems nearly perfect, excepting for a certain slight
change that has just entered his mind. He cannot think of allowing
any machine to be made without this later improvement.
He is inclined to the optimistic view, his memory works best on
the good work of the past, and is extremely poor in holding afresh
the view of previous mistakes.
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