By Henry Gantt


It is unquestionable that the strategy of General Foch, who so promptly took advantage of the error of the Germans in not flattening out the French salient between Montdidier and Chateau-Thierry, enabled him to establish his offensive which, with the new spirit put into his whole force by the splendid fresh troops of the American army, would undoubtedly have wrested victory from the Germans in the long run, even if they had been able to stave off the revolution at home and keep their economic system in good shape. It is a fact, however, that a growing discontent due to the increasing hardships which their economic system was unable to relieve, and which threatened a revolution, was unquestionably an important factor in lowering the morale of the army and worked strongly in our favor. Of course, a knowledge of the real conditions at home was kept as much as possible from the soldiers at the front, but from what we have learned since the armistice it must have been perfectly clear to those in control some time before the armistice, that their economic strength was exhausted, and hence, the end had come.


It has even been suggested that the attempt of the Germans to extend the salient at Chateau-Thierry before they flattened out the salient between Montdidier and that point, was taking a “gambler’s chance”, for they realized then that they were near the end of their economic resources and that they must have a quick victory or none.


Whether this theory is true or not, the fact remains that the threatened collapse of the economic system was a controlling factor during the last few months of the war. In other words, war cannot be waged unless the economic system is capable of supporting the population and also furnishing the fighting equipment. To be as strong as possible in war, therefore, we must develop an economic system which will enable us to exert all our strength for the common good, which will therefore be free from autocratic practices of either rich or poor, for such practices take away from the community for the benefit of a class.


It is pretty generally agreed that this philosophy is correct in time of war, but both the rich and the poor seem to think that we do not need to be strong in time of peace, and that we may with impunity go back to the pull and haul for profits regardless of the results to the community. Such a condition does not produce strength, but weakness; not harmony, but discord.


In the struggle that arises under the above conditions, between an autocratic ownership and an autocratic labor party, the economic laws which produce strength are largely disregarded and the whole industrial and business system becomes infected with such a feebleness that it is incapable of supporting our complicated system of modem civilization. This is exactly what is happening in eastern Europe, where civilization is tottering due to the fact that the industrial and business system by which it was supported is no longer functioning properly. The production portion seems to have absolutely broken down, hence there is a shortage everywhere of the necessities of life. This failure is undoubtedly due to a combination of causes; but whatever the cause, the result is the same, for the violation of economic laws, whether through interest, ignorance, or indolence, will ultimately, to use the langthe laws of chemistry will produce an explosion in the laboratory!


We must avoid the possibility of this explosion at all hazards. If we would accomplish this result we must begin at once not only to make clear what the correct economic laws are, but to take such steps in conformity with them as will get the support of the community in general, and lessen the danger of following Europe into the chaos toward which she seems heading.


Those who believed the war could last only a few months based their opinion on the destruction of wealth it would cause. They had absolutely no conception of the tremendous speed with which this loss might be made good by the productive force of modern industry. They did not understand that the controlling factor in the war would ultimately become productive capacity.


When we entered the war, it was of course necessary to raise money, and through the persistent use of the slogan Money will win the war, our loans were promptly oversubscribed. Although we were able to raise all the money we needed, we had difficulty in transforming that money quickly into fighting power, for we made the fundamental error of considering that those who knew how to raise money, also knew how usage of a distinguished economist, blow the roof off our civilization just as surely as the violation of to transform it into food and clothing, weapons, and ships. The sudden ending of the war prevented us from realizing how great this error was. Even a superficial review of what took place during 1918, however, reveals the fact that our efforts at production were sadly ineffective. So true is this that some of those in authority not only discouraged all efforts to show comparison between their promises and their performances in such a manner that the public could understand, but they actually forbade such comparisons to be made.


There was, in Washington, at the beginning of the war, however, one man who understood the necessity for just this kind of record, which should be kept from day to day and should show our progress in the work we had to do. This man was Brigadier General William Crozier, Chief of Ordnance. Apparently alone among those in authority at that time, he recognized the important principle that authority and responsibility for performance must be centered in the same individual, and organized his department on that basis. Before the breaking out of the war a simple chart system, which showed the comparison between promises and performances, had been established in the Frankford Arsenal. This system General Crozier began to extend throughout the Ordnance Department as soon as we entered the war, in order that he might at all times see how each of his subordinates was performing the work assigned to him. As the method was new, progress was necessarily slow, but before General Crozier was removed from his position as Chief of Ordnance, in December, 1917, a majority of the activities of the Ordnance Department were shown in chart form so clearly that progress, or lack of progress, could be seen at once. No other government department had at that time so clear a picture of its problem and the progress being made in handling it. The following incident will serve to show the results that had been produced by this policy. Late in November, 1917, Dean Herman Schneider of the University of Cincinnati, was called to the Ordnance Department to assist on the labor problem. Before deciding just how he would attack his problem, he naturally investigated the activities of the department as a whole, with the result that early in December, 1917, he wrote General C. B. Wheeler, under whom he was working, a letter from which the following is an extract:


“The number of men needed for the Ordnance Program should be ascertainable in the production sections of the several divisions of the Ordnance Department. Investigation so far (in three production sections) discloses that, except in isolated cases, a shortage of labor is not evident.”


“Each production section has production and progress chart systems. These seem to vary in minor details only. Even without rigid standardization, the charts give a picture of the progress of the whole Ordnance Program including lags and the causes therefor. Combined in one office and kept to date they would show the requirements as to workers, as well as to materials, transportation, accessory machinery, and all of the other factors which make or break the program.”


”With a plan of this sort the Ordnance Department would be in a position to state at any time its immediate and probable future needs in men, materials, transportation, and equipment”, The other Departments of the War Department (and of other departments engaged in obtaining war material) can, through their Production Sections, do what the Ordnance Department can do, namely, assemble in central offices their production and progress charts through which they would know their immediate and probable future needs.”


“Finally, these charts assembled in one clearing office would give the data necessary in order to make the whole program of war production move with fair uniformity, without disastrous competition and with
Justice to the workers.”


This letter not only sets forth clearly what General Crozier had accomplished, but it shows still more clearly Dean Schneider’s conception of the problem which at that time lay immediately before us. General Crozier’s successors allowed the methods which had been developed to lapse, and Dean Schneider’s vision of the industrial problem and ability to handle it were relegated to second place.


The methods referred to by Dean Schneider were afterward adopted in an elementary way by the Shipping Board and by the Emergency Fleet Corporation. Although they were never used to any great extent by those in highest authority, who apparently were much better satisfied simply to report what they had done, rather than to compare it too closely with what they might have done, they were used to great advantage by many who were responsible for results in detail.


Fig. 6 – Progress Chart (Top) and Fig. 7 Order Chart (Bottom)
At the left of the upper chart is a list of articles to be procured. The amounts for which orders have been placed are shown in the column headed ” Amount ordered.” The dates between which deliveries are to be made are shown by angles. The amount to be delivered each month is shown by a figure at the left side of the space assigned to that month. The figure at the right of each time space shows the total amount to be delivered up to that date.
If the amount due in any month is all received, a light line is drawn clear across the space representing that month. If only half the amount due is received, this line goes only half way across. In general, the length of the light line or the number of lines indicates the amount delivered during that month.
The heavy line shows cumulatively the amount delivered up to the date of the last entry. It will be noted that, if this line is drawn to the scale of the periods through which it passes, the distance from the end of the line to the current date will represent the amount of time deliveries are behind or ahead of the schedule. It is thus seen that the short cumulative lines they represent items that are farthest behind schedule.
Z represents no deliveries, summary of the individual orders and is represented on the upper chart by line A.


Fig. 6 Is a sample of the charts referred to above. This is an actual Ordnance Department chart, entered up to the end of December, 1917, the names of the items being replaced by letters. It was used to illustrate the methods employed and to instruct people in the work.


The distance between the current date and the end of the heavy or cumulative line indicates whether the deliveries of any article are ahead or behind the schedule and how much.


It is thus seen that the short lines indicate instantly the articles which need attention.


As said before, when General Crozier was moved from his office about the 1st of December 1917, he had a majority of the items for which he was responsible, charted in this manner, was rapidly getting the same kind of knowledge about the other items. Charts of this character were on his desk at all times, and he made constant use of them.


This chart is shown only as a sample and represents a principle. Each item on such, chart as the above may have been purchased from a dozen different suppliers, in which case the man responsible for procuring such articles had the schedule and progress of each contract charted in a manner similar to that on Chart 6. Chart 7 is such a chart. The lines on Chart 6 represented a summary of all the lines on the corresponding detail charts.


Similar charts were used during the war to show the schedules and progress in building ships, shipyards, and flying boats — and are now being used for the same purpose in connection with the manufacture of many kinds of machinery. The great advantage of this type of chart, known as the straight line chart, is that it enables us to make a large number of comparisons at once.


From the illustrations given the following principles upon which this chart system is founded are easily comprehended:


First: The fact that all activities can be measured by the amount of time needed to perform them.


Second: The space representing the time unit on the chart can be made to represent the amount of activity which should have taken place in that time.


Bearing in mind these two principles, the whole system is readily intelligible and affords a means of charting all kinds of activities, the common measure being time.

Skip to content