Increasing Efficiency In Business
by Walter Dill Scott
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For some men, buying and selling is as great a delight as felling a deer. For others the manufacture of goods is as great a joy as landing a trout. For such a man enthusiasm for his work is unfailing and industry unremittent.

He is suited to his task as is the cub to the fight, the puppy to the chase, the squirrel to the burying of nuts, or the hunter to the killing of game. His labor always appeals to him as the thing of supremest moment. His interest in it is such that it never fails to in- spire others by contagion. For such a man laziness or indifference in business seems anomalous, while industry and enthusiasm are as natural as the air he breathes and as inexhaustible as the air itself.

By classifying the love of the game as an instinct, we seem to admit that it is born and not developed; that some men possess it and others do not; that if a man possesses it, he does not need to cultivate it, and that if he does not possess, he cannot acquire it. There is doubtless much truth in this, but fortunately it is not the whole truth.

Some instincts are specific—even stereotyped —and not subject to cultivation or change. Thus the bee's instinctive method of gathering and storing honey is very specific and definite. The bee is unable to modify its routine to any great extent. The bee which does not instinctively perform the different acts properly will never learn to.

There are other instincts not so stereotyped in manner or constant in degree. The instincts of man are much more variable than those of the lower animals and are much more subject to direction, inhibition, or development. If this love of the game were solely a matter of inheritance, if the business genius were born and not made, and if it could not be cultivated and developed, our hope for the improvement of the race would be small.

Potential geniuses exist in large numbers but fail of discovery because they are not developed. Instincts manifest themselves only in the presence of certain stimulating conditions. They are developed by exercise and stimulated further by the success attending upon their exercise.

Thus certain conditions, more or less definite, are effective in determining the line along which instincts shall manifest themselves, and the extent to which the instincts shall be developed and then ultimately supplemented by experience and reason.

Fortunately we have reason to believe that although the business genius must have a good inheritance, yet the inheritance does not determine what its possessor shall make of himself. Many persons are inclined to overestimate the influence of inheritance in determining success in business. The folly of this attitude is every day becoming more and more apparent.

The conditions essential for developing the love of the game in business may be summarized under three heads:—

First, a man will develop a love of the game in any business in which he is led to assume a responsibility, to take personal initiative, to feel that he is creating something, and that he is expressing himself in his work.

As organizations become larger and more complex in their methods, there is a corresponding increase in the difficulty of making the employees retain and develop this feeling of independent and creative responsibility. Business has become so specialized and the work of the individual seems so petty that he is not likely to feel that he is expressing himself through his work or to retain a feeling of independence. Properly conceived, there is no position in trade or industry which does not warrant such an attitude. To promote this attitude various devices have been adopted by business firms. Some try to put a real responsibility on each employee and to make him feel it. Others have devised forms of partnership which give numerous employees shares in the business and so help to develop this attitude.

In developing men for responsible positions this attitude must be secured and retained even while they are occupying the lesser positions.

Few things so stimulate a boy as the feeling that he is responsible for a certain task, that he is expressing himself in it, that he is creating something worth while.

Many managers and more foremen are unable to develop this feeling in their subordinates because they assume all the responsibility and allow those under them no share of it. On the other hand, some executives have the happy faculty of inspiring this attitude in all their men. The late Marshall Field made partners of his lieutenants and encouraged them to assume responsibility and to do creative work. As a result they developed a love of the game—a fact to which he owed much of his phenomenal success.

The second condition or factor in the development of the love of the game in business is social prestige.

We have but partially expressed the nature of man when we have spoken of him as delighting in independent self-expression, as being self-centered and self-seeking. Man is inherently social in his nature and desires nothing more than the approval of his fellows. That which society approves we do with enthusiasm. We change our forms of amusements, our manner of life, and our daily occupations according to the whims of society. Fifteen years ago the riding of bicycles was quite the proper thing, and we all trained down till we could ride a century. To-day we are equally enthusiastic in lowering bogy on the golf course. This change in our ambitions is not because it is inherently more fun to beat bogy than to ride a century. The change has come about simply because of the change of social prestige secured from the two forms of amusement.

We may expect to find enthusiastic industry in the accomplishment of any task which society looks upon as particularly worthy. During the past few decades in America society has given the capitalist unusual honor and has allowed him monetary rewards unprecedented in the history of the world.

If the capitalist had been honored less than the poet, the preacher, or the soldier, and his material rewards fallen below theirs, our money captains would have been fewer in number.

In spite of occasional muck rakings, society's esteem for the capitalist has been unbounded. He is in general the only man with a national reputation. Society bestows upon him unstinted praise and the most generous rewards for his toil. His rewards are so extravagant that the game seems worthy of every effort he can put forth. Love of the game has consequently been engendered within him, and his enthusiasm has been unbounded.

This motive of social prestige is less easy of application to the humbler ranks of employees.

Most men engaged in the industries are entirely deprived of the stimulus because their social group does not look with approval upon their daily tasks. It may even despise men for doing well work essential as preparatory to better positions. There are many young men engaged in perfectly worthy employment who prefer that their social set should not know of the exact nature of their work for fear it would be regarded as menial and not sufficiently "swell.''

This disrespect for honest toil is due to various causes. One cause is that nearly all young men—and indeed most older men too—look upon their present positions merely as stepping stones. They look forward to promotion and more interesting work. They and their social group fail to accord dignity to the work which they are doing at any time.

Another reason why the motive of social prestige has no effect in the more humble positions is that in business we have practically abandoned the standard of the artist and adopted that of the capitalist. The artist's standard is diametrically opposed to the capitalistic standard. We honor the capitalist not for what he does, but for the money he gets for what he does. We honor the artist for what he does and never because of the monetary considerations which follow his creation.

To substitute the standard of the artist for the standard of the capitalist would be impossible in business, yet a harmonious working of the two is possible.

Such a harmony was probably present in the old industrial guilds, which developed a class consciousness creating its own ideals. Within the guild the most skillful workman had the highest honor. The work itself, independent of the money which might be received for it, was uppermost in the worker's mind.

The executive seeking to stimulate love of the game among his workmen should in some way see that social approval attaches itself to the work as such and not to the wage which is secured by means of the work. The workmen must be given an interest in the work as well as in the wage.

Executives everywhere find that "getting together'' with others engaged in the same work is most stimulating. We are inspired by the presence of others engaged in the same sort of work and giving approval to success in our particular field.

The third condition for securing a love of the game is that the work itself must appeal to the individual as something important and useful.

Its useful function must be apparent, and the necessity and advantage of perfect performance must be emphasized. I play golf because the game permits me to assert myself and engage in independent and exhilarating activity. My devotion to my professional tasks, however, is dependent upon the fact that I regard psychology, whether the work be in research or instruction, as of the greatest importance to science and to mankind in general. The work as a whole and all the details of it seem to me to be important. In performing my daily tasks they seem to me to be worthy of the most persistent and enthusiastic effort.

Doubtless there are classes of work incapable of appealing to individuals as does my work to me. But in many instances work seems menial and ignoble because it is not understood. It is not seen in its relationships and broader aspects. The single task as performed by the individual is so small and so specialized that it does not seem worth while.

The dignity of labor demands that the workman should respect the work of his hands.

He should look upon his accomplished tasks as of inherent dignity independent of the monetary recompense to be received. To keep the workman's efficiency keyed up, the employer should see to it that this broader aspect of labor is emphasized and that the day laborer finds some reason for his labor besides his wage. It is the only game he may ever have time to play. It is to the interest of himself, his employer, and society at large that he should enter enthusiastically into it and be ennobled by it.

Professional, technical, and vocational schools are serving a noble function in emphasizing the dignity of the work for which they are preparing young men.

They are more and more presenting the broader aspects of the subjects taught. Even the altruistic and extremely technical aspects of the subject are found profitable. The narrower and apparently the more practical course does not result so successfully as the broader and more cultural ones.

The boy who goes direct into work from the public school is not likely to cordinate his task with the general activity of the establishment, and he is not likely to see how he is in anyway contributing to the welfare of humanity by his work. He needs to be shown how each line of industry and profession serves a great function, has an interesting history, and is vitally connected with many of the most important human interests. He should learn to see how the different cogs are essential and worthy factors in the total process. The boy who thus comprehends his task looks upon it and is inspired by it in a way that would otherwise be quite impossible.

Some of the most successful houses have been so impressed with the importance of this form of industrial education that at their own expense they have established night schools for new employees as well as for those who have been years with the firm. Not only are the students taught how to perform their respective tasks, but a broader program is attempted. Sometimes an attempt is made to lead the students to appreciate the dignity of the particular activity in which the firm is engaged. The history of the firm is then fully presented so that the employees will comprehend the part the house has actually taken in the world. Some firms try to show each man how his work is related to the work of the house as a whole and to other departments. In various ways schools and individual firms are successfully attempting to inject a nobler regard and appreciation for labor. The result is most gratifying and manifests itself in increased enthusiasm and other expressions of the increased love of the game.

The three conditions which we have been considering for developing the love of the game are quite different, appeal to the different sides of the individual, and are not all equally applicable to the young man who seeks to become a leader among his fellows or to the manager of men who seeks to develop leaders.

The attitude of independent, creative responsibility appeals to our individualistic and self-centered self. It is an attitude that may be assumed by the ambitious young man and encouraged by the manager. It is absolutely indispensable for developing this much-coveted love of the game in any form of useful endeavor. It is readily assumed or developed in the chief executive, but may be developed in subordinates with great difficulty.

Social prestige appeals to our selfishly social natures, and yet the desire to secure this social favor is in the main ennobling. It is of special value to the manager of large groups of men. The manager may create the social atmosphere which is most favorable to the development of the love of the game in his particular industry.

The last condition discussed, regard for the work as important and as useful, makes its appeal to our nobler and what we might in some instances speak of as our altruistic selves. This condition is equally serviceable to the ambitious youth and to the successful superintendent of men. We all look out for number one, but appeals made to the higher self are not unavailing. We are most profoundly stirred when we are appealed to from all sides. However, the love of the game will never be universal in the professional and industrial world. We can scarcely imagine the millennium when all employees would cease to despise their toil and cease to serve for pay alone.




Be not therefore anxious for the Morrow

A STUDY of the lives of great men is both interesting and profitable. In such a study we are amazed at the records of the deeds of the men whom the world calls great. The results of the labors of Hercules seem to be approximated according to many of these truthful accounts.

In studying the lives of contemporary business men two facts stand out prominently. The first is that their labors have brought about results that to most of us would have seemed impossible. Such men appear as giants, in comparison with whom ordinary men sink to the size of pygmies.

The second fact which a study of successful business men (or any class of successful men) reveals is that they never seem rushed for time.

Men noted for efficiency almost never appear to be hurried. They have plenty of time to accomplish their tasks, and therefore can afford to take their work leisurely.

Such men have time to devote to objects in no way connected with their business. It cannot be regarded as accidental that this characteristic of mind is found so commonly among successful men during the years of their most fruitful labor.

According to the American Ideal, the man who is sure to succeed is one who is continuously "keyed up to concert pitch,'' who is ever alert and is always giving attention to his business or profession. As far as the captains of industry are concerned, such is not the case. They devote relatively few hours a day to their strenuous toil, but they keep a cool head and a steady hand. They are always composed, never confused, but ever ready to attack a new problem with their maximum ability. They follow the injunction of Christ expressed in His Sermon on the Mount: "Be not therefore anxious for the morrow.''

Of all the nations of the world, Americans are supposed to be the hardest working. We have attributed our industrial success to the fact that there is a bustle and snap to our work which are not equaled in any other country. But recent students of the industrial world are now telling us that even in the case of day and piece labor this characteristic is frequently a weakness rather than an advantage. They say that the American product "suffers from hurry, want of finish, and want of solidity.''— "Industrial Efficiency,'' Arthur Shadwell, Vol. 1, p. 26.

In the great middle class of American society, there is a lack of repose and an absence of relaxation which astonishes foreign observers.

They tell us that we are wild-eyed and too intense. Dr. Clauston of Scotland is quoted as saying:—

"You Americans wear too much expression in your faces. You are living like an army with all its reserves engaged in action. The duller countenance of the British population betokens a better scheme of life. They suggest stores of reserved nervous force to fall back upon, if any occasion should arise that requires it. The inexcitability, this presence at all times of power not used, I regard as the great safeguard of our British people. The other thing in you gives me a sense of insecurity, and you ought somehow to tone yourselves down. You do really carry too much expression, you take too intensely the trivial moments of life.''

The late Professor William James of Harvard makes the following pertinent remark concerning the overtension of Americans:—

"Your intense, convulsive worker breaks down and has bad moods so often that you never know where he may be when you most need his help,—he may be having one of his 'bad days.' We say that so many of our fellow-countrymen collapse, and have to be sent abroad to rest their nerves, because they work so hard. I suspect that this is an im- mense mistake. I suspect that neither the nature nor the amount of our work is accountable for the frequency and severity of our breakdowns, but that their cause lies rather in those absurd feelings of hurry and having no time, in that breathlessness and tension, that anxiety of feature and that solicitude of results, that lack of inner harmony and ease, in short, by which with us the work is apt to be accompanied, and from which a European who should do the same work would nine times out of ten be free. . . . It is your relaxed and easy worker, who is in no hurry, and quite thoughtless most of the while of consequences, who is your efficient worker; and tension and anxiety, and present and future, all mixed up together in one mind at once, are the surest drags upon steady progress and hindrances to our success.''—"Talks to Teachers,'' pp. 214- 218.

Mr. Joseph Lyons, who is recognized as one of the particularly active and efficient men of England, has taken great interest in the way things are done in America. And after ob- serving us at work here he expressed himself as dissatisfied with the tension under which we work. His words areas follows:—

"I do not believe in what Americans call hustling. The American hustler in my opinion does not represent the highest type of human efficiency. He wastes a lot of nervous power and energy instead of accomplishing the greatest possible amount of work for the force expended. Judging the American hustler from my observation of him in his own country, I should say that the American hustler shows a lack of adaptation of means to ends because he puts more mental, physical, and nervous energy into his work at all times than it demands. Regarded as a machine he is not an economical one. He breaks down too often and has to be laid off for repairs too often. He tries to do everything too fast.''

When Mr. Lyons was asked to explain how he had been able to accomplish so much without hustling, he replied: "By organizing myself to run smoothly as well as my business; by schooling myself to keep cool, and to do what I have to do without expending more nervous energy on the task than is necessary; by avoiding all needless friction. In consequence, when I finish my day's work, I feel nearly as fresh as when I started.''— Quoted from New York Herald, Aug. 30, 1910.


The necessity for relaxation is adherent in the human organism. Even those life processes which seem to be constant in their activity require frequent periods of complete rest.

The heart beats regularly and at short intervals, but after each beat its muscles come into a state of complete relaxation and enjoy a refreshing rest, even though it be but for a moment. Likewise the lungs seem to be unceasing in their activity, but a careful study of their action discloses the fact that every contraction is followed by a perfect relaxation, and that the rest secured between successive respirations is adequate for recuperations.

In all bodily processes the same alternation is discovered. No bodily activity is at all con- tinuous. Mental processes, too, can be continued for but a very short time. By attempting to eliminate these periods of rest for bodily and mental acts, we merely exhaust without a corresponding increase in efficiency. The laws of nature are firm and countenance no infringement.

The periods between activity and rest, as well as the durations of the two processes, may be changed. Thus, up to a certain limit, the periods devoted to activity may follow more rapidly and endure longer. There is, however, a danger point which may not be passed with impunity. The danger signal may manifest itself in several ways: The over- trained athlete becomes "stale''; the over- worked brain worker becomes nervous; the overworked laborer becomes indifferent and generally inefficient.

In all these and in similar instances, the amount of energy expended is out of proportion to the results of the labor. The athletic trainer has learned to guard against overtraining and is severely condemned for making such a mistake. The brain worker often regards overwork as a commendable thing. However, sentiment is changing. The employer of labor is finding that rest and relaxation are essential to the greatest efficiency. Employees accomplish as much in a week of six days as they do in one of seven. The reduction in the hours of daily toil has not decreased the total efficiency.

The periods devoted to rest are not as profitable as they should be unless they are actually devoted to recuperation. It may be that some of the time supposed to be devoted to rest should be devoted to thoughts of toil. Again during the hours of work there should be a freedom from jerkiness, breathlessness, nervousness, and anxiety. It is not necessarily true that the greatest and most constant display of energy accompanies the greatest presence of energy. The tugboat in the river is constantly blowing off steam and making a tremendous display of energy, while the ocean liner proceeds on its way without noise and without commotion. The still current runs deep, and the man who is actually accomplishing the most is frequently—perhaps always the man who is making the least display of his strength. He can afford to be calm and collected, for he is equal to his task. The man who frets and fumes, who is nervous and excited, who is strung up to such a pitch that energy is being dissipated in all directions— such a man proclaims his weakness from the housetop.

Many business men know they are going at a pace that kills, and at the same time they feel that they are accomplishing too little. For such, the pertinent question is, How may I reduce the expenditure of energy without reducing the efficiency of my labor?

The ability to relax at will and to remain in an efficient condition, but free from nervousness, is a thing which may be acquired more or less completely by all persons. It is accomplished by a voluntary control of the muscles of the arms, legs, and face, by breathing slowly and deeply, and by placing the body in a condition of general relaxation.

This antecedent condition of relaxation brings all the forces of the mind and body more completely under control and makes it possible to marshal them more effectively. It also gives one a feeling of control and assurance, which minimizes the possibility of confusion and embarrassment in the presence of an important task. The possibility of developing the power of relaxation by means of special training is being taken advantage of in teaching acts of skill, in all forms of mental therapeutics, and in numerous other instances where overtension hinders the acquisition or accomplishment of a useful act. By assuming the attitude of assurance and composure, the actual condition is produced in a manner most astonishing to those who have never attempted it. No man can do his best when he is hurried and fearful, when he is expending energy in a manner as useless as a tug blowing off steam. That relief is within his own power seems to him impossible. He is not aware of his power of will to change from his state of anxiety to one of composure.

That the gospel of relaxation is more important to the chief executive than to the day laborer is quite apparent. Even in the case of the day laborer the crack of the lash and the curse of the driver may have been capable of securing a display of activity among the laborers, but such means are not comparable in efficiency to the more modern methods. Laborers are now given more hours of rest, are not kept fearful and anxious, but are given short hours of labor and long hours of rest. They are judged by the actual results of their labor rather than by their apparent activity.

When accomplishing intellectual work of any sort, it is found that worry exhausts more than labor.

Anxiety as to the results is detrimental to efficiency. The intellectual worker should periodically make it a point to sit in his chair with the muscles of his legs relaxed, to breathe deeply, and to assume an attitude of composure. Such an attitude must not, of course, detract from attention to the work at hand, but should rather increase it. Upon leaving his office, the brain worker should cultivate the habit of forgetting all about his business, except in so far as he believes that some particular point needs special attention out of office hours. The habit of brooding over business is detrimental to efficiency and is also suicidal to the individual.

It is, of course, apparent to all that relaxation may mean permanent indifference, and such a condition is infinitely worse than too great a tension. An employer who is never keyed up to his work, and an employee who goes about his work in an indifferent manner, are not regarded in the present discussion.

A complete relaxation of the body often gives freedom to the intellect. The inventor is often able, when lying in bed, to devise his apparatus with a perfection impossible when he attempts to study it out in the shop. The forgotten name will not come till we cease straining for it. Very many of the world's famous poems have been conceived while the poet was lying in an easy and relaxed condition. This fact is so well recognized by some authors that they voluntarily go to bed in the daytime and get perfectly relaxed in order that their minds may do the most perfect work. Much constructive thinking is done in the quiet of the sanctuary, when the monotony of the liturgy or the voice of the speaker has soothed the quiet nerves, and secured a composed condition of mind. The preacher would be surprised if he knew how many costumes had been planned, how many business ventures had been outlined, all because of the soothing influence of his words.

This relaxation of the body not only gives freedom to the intellect, but it is the necessary preliminary condition for the greatest physical exertion and for the most perfect execution of any series of skillful acts.

Mr. H. L. Doherty not only held the world's championship in tennis, but he was the despair of his opponents, because of the apparent lack of exertion which he put forth to meet their volleys. So far as an observer could judge, Mr. Doherty kept only those muscles tense that were used in the game. The muscles especially necessary for tennis were also, so far as possible, kept lax except at the instant for making the stroke. Partly because of this relaxation, his muscles were free from exhaustion and under such perfect control that at the critical moment he was able to exert a strength that was tremendous and a skill that was amazing.

In a very striking paragraph Professor James has shown the reason why poise and efficiency of mind are incompatible with tenseness of muscles:—

"By the sensations that so incessantly pour in from the overtense excited body the overtense and excited habit of mind is kept up; and the sultry, threatening, exhausting, thunderous inner atmosphere never quite clears away. If you never give yourself up wholly to the chair you sit in, but always keep your leg and body muscles half contracted for a rise; if you breathe eighteen or nineteen instead of sixteen times a minute, and never quite breathe out at that,—what mental mood can you be in but one of inner panting and expectancy, and how can the future and its worries possibly forsake your mind? On the other hand, how can they gain admission to your mind if your brow be unruffled, your respiration calm and complete, and your muscles all relaxed?''—"Talks to Teachers,'' p. 211.

In ancient Greece, one of the chief functions of the school was to prepare citizens to profit by the hours of freedom from toil. Herbert Spencer, in his great work on Education, gives a prominent place to training for leisure hours. Such training is attracting the attention of the American educator to-day as never before. A few decades ago the majority of the American population lived on farms, spent long hours of the day in toil, and scarcely thought of recreation. We have now become an urban population, the hours of labor have been greatly reduced during the days of the week, and Sunday is a day in which the laborer is found in neither the factory nor the church.

The employer of laborers fears the effect of long hours of freedom from toil. He has prophesied that such hours would be spent in dissipations. He feared that as a result his laborers would enter their shops with unsteady hands and sleepy brains. That such results are all too often due to freedom from toil, no one would deny. That they are not necessary will also be admitted. One of the problems of the American people as a whole, and of employers of labor in particular, is to train up the rising generations so that they may make the best use of the increasing hours of freedom from labor.

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

Upon entering business every young man should select some form of endeavor or activity apart from business to which he shall devote a part of his attention. This interest should be so absorbing that when he is thus engaged, business is banished from mind.

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

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

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



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

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

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

{illust. caption = FIG. 1.}

the highest daily record for speed. The results of our practice are graphically shown in Curve A of Fig. 1. As shown in that curve for the first day our average speed was only forty-two combinations per minute, but for the thirtieth day our average was seventy-four combinations per minute, We did not quite double our speed by the practice, and we made but little improvement in accuracy. The most rapid gain was, as anticipated, during the first few days. We made but little progress from the sixteenth to the twenty-third day, and also from the twenty-fourth to the thirtieth day.

Of the six persons practicing addition, five of us also practiced the making of a maximum grip with a thumb and forefinger. Just before beginning the adding each day this maximum grip (or pinch) was exerted once a second for sixty seconds, first with the right hand and then with the left. Likewise at the completion of the addition sixty grips were taken by the right hand and sixty by the left. The total pressure exerted by each individual in the 240 trials (four minutes) was then recorded and expressed in kilograms. The result of the experiment is shown in curve B of Fig. 1. The average total pressure for each of the five persons was for the first day 620 kilograms; for the twenty-fourth day 1400 kilograms. Our increase was very rapid for the first few days, and no general slump was encountered till the last week of practice. In one particular our results in the test on physical strength were not anticipated—we did not suppose that by practicing four minutes daily for thirty days we could double our physical strength in any such a series of maximum grips with the thumb and forefinger.

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

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

In this curve it will be observed that the

{illust. caption = FIG. 2.}

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

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

{illust. caption = FIG. 3.}

can send or receive with accuracy per minute. In learning telegraphy, progress is rapid for a few weeks and then follow many weeks of less rapid improvement. Figure 4 presents the <p 229 history of a student of telegraphy who was devoting all his time to sending and receiving messages. His speed was measured once a week from his first week to the time when he

{illust. caption = FIG. 4.}

could be classed as a fully accomplished operator. By the twentieth week this operator could receive less than 70 letters a minute, although he could send over 120 letters a minute. At the end of the fortieth week he had reached a speed of sending which he would probably never greatly excel even though his speed was far below that attained by many operators. The receiving rate might possibly rise either slowly or rapidly until it equaled or exceeded the sending rate.—BRYAN & HARTER, "Studies in the Physiology and Psychology of the Telegraphic Language,'' Psychological Review, Vol. IV, p. 49.

There are certain forms of learning and practice which do not readily admit of quantitative determinations. Nevertheless very successful attempts have been made even in the most difficult realms of learning. A beginner with the Russian language spent 30 minutes daily in industrious study and then was tested for 15 minutes as to the number of Russian words he could translate. Figure 5 shows diagrammatically the results of the experiment. Thus on the thirteenth day 22 words were translated; on the fiftieth day 45 words. Improvement was rather rapid until the nineteenth day, and then followed a slump till the forty-sixth day. Improvement was very ir- regular.—SWIFT, E. J., "Mind in the Making,'' p. 198.

These five figures are typical of nearly all

{illust. caption = FIG. 5.}

practice, or learning, curves. They depict the rate at which the beginner increases his efficiency. In every case we discover very great fluctuations. On one day or at one moment there is a sudden phenomenal improvement. The next day or even the next moment the increase may be lost and a return made to a lower stage of efficiency.

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

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

These plateaus are not all due to the same cause.

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

1. The enthusiasm dependent upon novelty becomes exhausted.

2. All easy improvements have been made.

3. A period of "incubation'' is needed in which the new habits under formation may have time to develop.

4. Voluntary attention cannot be sustained for a long period of time.

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

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

Many young persons begin things with enthusiasm, but drop them when the novelty has worn off. They develop no stable interests and in all their tasks are superficial. They often have great potential ability, but lack training in habits of industry and of continued application. They change positions often, acquire much diversified experience, and frequently, in a new position, give promise of developing unusual skill or ability. This is due to the fact that during the first weeks or months of their new employment the novelty of the work stimulates them to activity, and the methods or habits learned in other trades are available for application to the new tasks. When the novelty wears off, however, they become wearied and cast about for a fresh and therefore more alluring field. Such nomads prove unprofitable employees even when they are the means of introducing new methods or short cuts into a business. They strike a plateau and lose interest and initiative just at the point where more industrious and less superficial men would begin to be of the greatest value.

Plateaus are not confined to clerks and other subordinates. Executives frequently "go stale'' on their jobs and lose their accustomed energy and initiative. Sometimes they are able to diagnose their own condition and provide the corrective stimulus. Again the man higher up, if he has the wisdom and discernment which some gain from experience, observes the situation and prescribes for his troubled lieutenant. In the majority of cases, however, the occupant of a plateau, if he continues thereon for any length of time, either resigns despondent or is dismissed.

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

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

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

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

This apparently favorable condition was the very reason for his lack of success in the new work. There was not the novelty in this position that there had been in his former successive positions. In such an executive position, it was not a question of taking care of an emergency demand, but of organization, of establishing routine, of organizing bigger campaigns. Before the end of the first season it became evi- dent that the new sales manager was not making good. Everything—organization, discipline, routine system, ginger—had deserted him. Neither he himself nor his employers, however, found the real cause. "I have lost my grip,'' he told the general manager. "I am worn out and of no further use to this business.''

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

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

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

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

It is only human to be more or less dependent upon novelty. If I am to stir myself to continuous and effective exertion, I must frequently stimulate my interest by proposing new problems and new aspects of my work. If I am to help others to increase their efficiency, I must devise new appeals to their interest and new stimulations to action. If I have been dependent upon competition as a stimulus I must change the form of the contest—a fact which receives daily recognition and application by the most efficient sales organization in the country. If I have been depending upon the stimulating effect of wages, there is profit occasionally in varying the method of payment or in furnishing some new concrete measure of the value of the wage. To the average worker, for example, a check means much less than the same amount in gold. In deference to this common appreciation of "cold cash,'' various firms have lately abandoned checks and pay in gold and banknotes, even though this change means many hours of extra work for the cashier.

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

In learning to add, the schoolboy employs his previous knowledge of numbers. In learning to multiply he builds upon his acquaintance with addition and subtraction. In solving problems in percentage his success is measured by the freedom with which he can use the four fundamental processes of addition, subtraction, Multiplication, and division. In computing bank discount, his skill is based on ability to employ his previous experience with percentage and the fundamental processes of arithmetic.

The advance here is typical of all learning processes. In mastering the typewriter no absolutely new movement is required. The old familiar movements of arm and hand are united in new combinations. The student has previously learned the letters found in the copy and can identify them upon the keys of the typewriter. Scrutiny enables him to find any particular key, and in the course of a few hours be develops a certain awkward familiarity with the keyboard and acquires some speed by utilizing these familiar muscular movements and available bits of knowledge. All these prelearned movements and associations are brought into service in the early stages of improvement, and a degree of proficiency is quickly attained which cannot be exceeded so long as these prelearned habits and asso- ciations alone are employed. Further advance in speed and accuracy is dependent upon combinations more difficult to make because they involve organization of the old and acquisition of new methods of thought or movement. When such a difficulty is faced, a plateau in the learning curve is almost inevitable.

The young man who enters upon the work of a salesman can make immediate use of a multitude of previous habits and previously acquired bits of knowledge. He performs by habit all the ordinary movements of the body; by habit he speaks, reads, and writes. During his previous experience he has acquired some skill in judging people, in addressing them, and in influencing them. His general information and his practice in debate and conversation— however crude—enable him to analyze his selling proposition and unite these selling points into an argument. He learns, too, to avoid certain errors and to make use of certain factors of his previous experience. Thus his progress is rapid for a short time but soon the stage is reached where his previous experience offers no more factors which can be easily brought to his service. In such an emergency the novice may cease to advance—if indeed there is not a positive retrogression.

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

The office manager of an important mercantile house is a case in point. Though young, he had served several companies in the same capacity, making a distinct advance at each change. He was a trained accountant, a clever employment man, and a successful handler of men and women. His association with the various organizations from which he had graduated gave him an unusual fund of practical knowledge and tried-out methods to draw upon.

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

Forthwith the new manager struck his plateau. His previous experience offered little he could readily use in shaping a sales policy or laying out a collection program. He plunged into the details of both, effected some important minor economies, but failed altogether —as subsequent events showed—to grasp the constructive needs and opportunities of management. He puzzled and irritated his district managers by overemphasizing details when they wanted decisions or policies or help in handling sales emergencies. In the same way, he neglected collections,—chiefly because he could not distinguish between detail and questions of policy,—but escaped blame for more than six months because the season was conceded to be a poor one.

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

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

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

Although periods of incubation are essential for every specific habit, practically every act of skill is dependent upon a number of simpler habits. At any one time progress may be made in utilizing some of these habits, even though others could not be advantageously hastened. Thus the period of incubation should not necessarily cause any profound slump in the advance. Almost invariably, however, it produces a plateau which persists until the worker has mastered the expert way. The golf player, for example, usually finds he is able to drive longer and straighter balls at the beginning of the season than a little later. The reason is that in golf the perfect stroke is the product of almost automatic muscular action. In the first round the swing of the driver or iron is not consciously governed, and the muscular habit of the previous year controls. Later, as the player concentrates on his task of correcting little faults or learning more effective methods, his stroke loses its automatic quality, his game falls off, and it is not until he masters his new form that he attains high efficiency.

The same cycle is repeated in office and factory operations, where efficiency is possible only when the hands carry out automatically the desired action. In typewriting and telegraphy, in the handling of adding machines, in the feeding of drill presses, punch presses, and hundreds of special machines, the learner passes through three distinct phases: first, swift improvement in which prelearned move- ments and skill are brought to bear on the task under the stimulus of both novelty interest and voluntary interest; second, arrested progress— the period of incubation or habit formation; and the final stage of automatic skill and efficiency.

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

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

No man can develop into an expert without great exertion of the will. Such exertions of the will are recognized by authorities as being very exhaustive and unstable. One of the greatest of the authorities and one who in particular has emphasized the necessity of a "do-or-die'' attitude of work concludes his discussion with the following significant admission: "All this suggests that if one wants to improve at the most rapid rate, he must work when he can feel good and succeed, then lounge and wait until it is again profitable to work. It is when all the conditions are favorable that the forward steps or new adaptations are made.''

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

The man who is "a rolling stone'' secures, in a way, more experience than the man who is developed within a single organization, but his wider experience does not of necessity make him a more valuable man. It is not mere experience that educates, develops, and equips men, but experience of particular sorts, and acquired under very well defined conditions.

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

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

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

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

The difference between a machine and a man is that the man is capable of adjusting himself to the changed situation, while a machine cannot do so. The machine may work more accurately and more rapidly than the man in routine work, but it is capable of nothing but routine work. There is a need for much experience to make the man approximate the skill and accuracy obtained by a machine. But there is also need of experience to develop the man in that particular in which he surpasses a machine, i.e. in a broad experience that enables him to form judgments and hence to make a multitude of different adjustments when a need for a change occurs.

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

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

Experience therefore which merely increases the skill of action without increasing the width of horizon is necessary, but it is inadequate. In addition to skill in routine work the man should secure the broader experience that will enable him to adjust himself to changed conditions in his occupation and that will develop the judgment necessary to enable him to adjust his vocation to new demands. Every form of occupation has many possibilities, a few of which are from time to time discovered to be significant. Advance in any sphere of work depends upon the discovery of these possibilities which the untrained eye of inexperience does not detect. Although a broad experience may enable the man to grasp the possibilities of his occupation, it fails to secure skill in the particulars that have already been found to be important. While a broad experience leaves a man incapable of present competition, the narrow experience jeopardizes his future.

The most valuable experience is therefore one that equips the man to compete with the skillful in the present and to comprehend his task so that he may from time to time adjust it to new relationships. It emphasizes the formation of necessary habits, but does not neglect the development of the judgment. Such an experience is both intensive and extensive; informal and formal; mechanical and theoretical; practical and scientific. Such experience alone meets the demands of the increasing complexity of industrial and commercial life.


I. Haphazard Experience

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

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

The condition found in the industrial world is no worse than that in the commercial world. The selling force is recuperated by green hands. In most selling organizations no instruction is given and no experience provided except what is picked up haphazard behind the counter or on the road. Most new men fail, are dismissed, employed by another firm and dis- missed again, etc. We have here nothing but a struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest in a crude and destructive form.

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

II. Apprenticeship Experience

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

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

Although the apprenticeship system has many excellent points, it has been found inadequate to meet the needs of modern commercial and industrial institutions. At least in its primitive form it is decadent in every industry which has been modernized. All forms of commerce and industry have become so complicated and each part demands such perfection of skill that an apprentice can scarcely secure sufficient experience in even the essentials of the trade to render him expert in these various processes. In short, the traditional apprenticeship system is unable to give either the general comprehension of the industry or the skill in the specialized processes.

III. Theoretical-practical Experience

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

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

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

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

IV. Practical-theoretical Experience

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

The weakness with the Theoretical-practical method of providing experience resembles the weakness of the Haphazard and the Apprenticeship methods in that it ceases too early. It ceases *before the individual begins his life work. It may have the special weakness of not being closely organized with the vocation for which it is assumed to be a preparation, hence of being impracticable.

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

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

During the present summer vacation I have been spending a few weeks in a boarding house. Some previous boarder had bequeathed to the house an intricate Chinese block puzzle. During this summer one lad in the house spent eight hours in solving the puzzle. He worked by the Haphazard method, trying blindly, till he just happened to get it right. The next attempt did not take so long, but it was many days before he could solve the problem rapidly.

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

In the boarding house was an expert mechanical engineer. He took up the task of solving the problem and was most scientific in his procedure. He figured out the principles that he thought might be involved, tried them, and immediately abandoned methods that proved unsuccessful. He was able to solve the puzzle in a half hour. Later trials were all successful and rapid. He knew just how he had solved the puzzle, and therefore did not have to experiment or take chances on later trials. This engineer employed the Theoretical-practical method of learning.

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

A comparison of these results is most instructive. The lad who went at it blindly by the Haphazard method required eight hours and even then did not analyze out the principles that would help him solve later prob- lems. My son, who employed the Apprenticeship method, accomplished his task in two hours but discovered no principles. His work was blindly mechanical. The engineer worked according to the Theoretical-practical method, completed his task in thirty minutes, and understood perfectly what he had done. By employing the Practical-theoretical method I was enabled to accomplish the task in fifteen minutes and to understand also how it was done.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In keeping with this modern tendency to supplement practical experience with theoretical interpretation, we find a very pronounced increase in the utilization of all agencies that interpret and enrich the daily toil. Men who are fully employed (e.g. journeymen and salesmen) have realized the necessity of some form of theoretical instruction to enable them to profit by their daily practical experience. This fact is almost pathetically demonstrated by the multitudes who are seeking for such instruction through correspondence and evening schools. Every progressive engineer, teacher, physician, and lawyer keeps abreast of the best thought of the day by means of frequent conventions, conferences, books, and periodicals. The experience secured from such agencies is essential to progress; only by such agencies can he learn the latest and most perfect interpretation of the experience of his professional life. Likewise the non-professional man engaged in commerce or industry finds the modern world to be so complex that mere practical experience is no longer adequate to enable him to meet the demands made upon him. The theoretical training of his youth (even though it include the college and the technical school) is totally inadequate to interpret for him the new relationships which arise from day to day. He needs a theory that grows out of his practical experience and that enables him to understand and to improve upon his practical work. The most common means for providing him with such experience he finds in his conventions and informal conferences with his peers and in his trade journals and technical books.

There is no warfare between theory and practice. The most valuable experience demands both, and the methods of procuring the most valuable experience in business and industry demand that the theory should supplement the practice and not precede it. The environment most conducive to securing and utilizing the most valuable experience is in the work-a-day world. But this is the very environment in which men become engulfed in the practical and neglect the theoretical. To the extent to which men thus neglect the theoretical do they lower themselves and class themselves with mere machines, and so hasten the day when they shall be discarded. Whether we be apprentices or experts, employees or employers, we are all in a similar condition. In every case advance is dependent upon the proper utilization of practical and theoretical experiences—upon the practical experience which is adequately interpreted.



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

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

Modern psychology teaches that experience is not merely the best teacher but the only possible teacher. All that any instructor can do is to select and to provide the conditions necessary for appropriate experiences and to stimulate the learner to make the most of them. The ignorant is changed into the learned by means of the utilization of profitable experiences. By the same method the novice is changed into the expert; the amateur into the professional; the inefficient into the efficient; and the errand boy into the manager.

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

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

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

What Experiences are Most Valuable?

How may these Most Valuable Experiences be Secured and Utilized?

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


1. Health and Vigor.

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

2. Experience is valuable proportionately as we apply ourselves to the task on hand. By intensity of application we not only accomplish more, but each unit of work contributes more to our development. Under the stress of voluntary and spontaneous attention, under the stimulus of personal efficiency-ideals, and under such social demands as competition and imitation we develop new methods of thought and action which are thereupon adopted as the methods for future action.

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

(a) The submissive or suggestible attitude.

(b) The self-attentive attitude.

(c) The objective or the problem attitude.

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

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

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