By Henry Gantt

2: THE ENGINEER AS THE INDUSTRIAL LEADERS

The principles explained in the preceding chapter may seem to be sufficiently clear and simple to appeal to almost any enlightened person, and give him the desire to carry them out. The desire to put them in operation, however, is not enough. He must have at least some inkling of the methods by which their application can be made. He must understand the forces with which he will have to contend in introducing the newer methods; the arguments that will be brought up against them, and the obstacles that will be put in his way by those who are perfectly well satisfied to go on as they are, in spite of the fact that a change is seen to be absolutely necessary in the long run. In the following chapters we shall try to give a picture of how business and industry are conducted, and some explanation of the forces controlling each. Most of our business and industrial troubles arise from the fact that the controlling factors are not apparent to the public in general and can be disclosed only by a thorough and exhaustive study of what is taking place.

 

Following this general exposition of the subject, we shall show a system of progress charts which bear the same relation to the statistical reports which are so common that a moving picture film bears to a photograph. This chart system has been in use only a few years, but it is so simple that it is readily understood by the workman and employer, and so comprehensive that one intelligent workman made the remark, ‘If we chart everything we are doing that way, anybody can run the shop.”

 

While we are hardly prepared to agree with this opinion, we are entirely satisfied that if the facts about a business can be presented in a compact and comprehensive manner, it will be found possible to run any business much more effectively than has been the custom in the past.

 

We wish to emphasize the practicality of our methods, because we have been accused of preaching altruism in business, which our critics say will not work. We know altruism will not work and absolutely repudiate the idea that our methods are altruistic ; as a matter of fact, we believe we should get full reward for service rendered. Moreover, we believe that if everybody got full reward for service rendered there would not be so many profits for the employer and employee to quarrel over, so often to the detriment of the public.

 

With this introduction, we shall try to make clear what has been happening in the industrial and business world, and draw our conclusions as we go along.

 

When the war broke out, many of our leading business men who had accumulated wealth through the accepted business methods, which had to do primarily with buying, selling, financing, etc., went to Washington and offered their services at a dollar a year. They did this with the best intentions, believing that the business methods which had brought them success in the past were the ones needed in time of war. They soon found that the government had taken over all financial operations ; that there was no selling to be done, and that the problem quickly reduced itself to one of production, in which many of them had had no experience. There were, of course, many marked exceptions, for some grasped the problem at once and did wonderful work. As a general rule, however, this was not the case, for it takes a very capable man to grasp quickly the essentials of a big problem that is entirely new to him. Hence, as a rule, they adhered strictly to the methods they had been accustomed to, and called to assist them great numbers of accountants and statisticians (all static), both groups thoroughly convinced that record-keeping was the main aim of business ; and while the army was calling for ships and shells, trucks and tanks, these men busied themselves with figures, piling up statistics, apparently quite satisfied that they were doing their part. In many cases these statisticians did not differentiate between that which is interesting and that which is important. In but few cases did they realize that from the standpoint of production, yesterday’s record is valuable only as a guide for tomorrow. They did not understand that it is only the man who knows what to do and how to do it that can direct the accumulation of the facts he needs for his guidance. In too many cases, such men had been left behind to run the factories, while their superiors, who had had no experience in production, undertook for the government the most important job of production we have ever had, depending almost entirely upon accountants and statisticians for guidance. The results of their labors are now history, a knowledge of which will soon be the common property of all. In spite of this handicap, we did much good work.

 

There is no question that both our army and navy have made good to a degree which none of our allies anticipated, but it is also true that if we had not had economic assistance from our allies, the results they have obtained would have been impossible. As a matter of fact, it is well known that our industrial system has not measured up as we had expected. To substantiate this we have only to mention airplanes, ships, field guns, and shells. The reason for its falling short is undoubtedly that the men directing it had been trained in a business system operated for profits, and did not understand one operated solely for production. This is no criticism of the men as individuals; they simply did not know the job, and, what is worse, they did not know they did not know it.

 

In as much as our economic strength in the future will be based on production, we must modify our system as rapidly as possible, with the end in view of putting producers in charge. To do this, opinions must give place to facts, and words to deeds, and the engineer, who is a man of few opinions and many facts, few words and many deeds, should be accorded the leadership which is his proper place in our
economic system. It must be remembered, however, that the engineer has two distinct functions. One is to design and build his machinery; the second is to operate it. In the past he has given more attention to the former function than to the latter. At first this was but a natural and necessary condition, for the various engineering structures were comparatively few and were operated in a measure simply and independently. Now, however, with the multiplicity of machines of all kinds, the operation of one is many times intimately dependent upon the operation of another, even in one factory. In addition to this the operation of one factory is always dependent upon the successful operation of a number of others. Because this inter- operation is necessary to render service or produce results, the complexity of the operating problem has greatly increased, for the operation of a large number of factories in harmony presents much the same problem as the harmonious operation of the machines in one factory. It is only, however, where the factories have been combined under one management that any direct attempt at this kind of control has been made. To be sure, the relation between the demand for and supply of the product, supplemented by a desire to get the greatest possible profit, has resulted in a sort of control, which has usually been based more on opinion than facts, and generally exercised to secure the greatest possible profits rather than to render the greatest service.

 

Emphasizing again the self-evident fact that great reward can only be continuously got by corresponding service, and that the maximum service can be rendered only when actions are based on knowledge, we realize that the logical director for such work is the engineer, who not only has a basic knowledge of the work, but whose training and experience lead him to rely only upon facts. So far, however, there is not in general use any mechanism which will enable the engineer to visualize at once the large number of facts that must be comprehended in order that he may handle effectively the managerial problems that our modern industrial system is constantly presenting. It is one object of this book to lay before the public the progress we have made in visualizing the problems and the available information needed for their solution.

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