Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chapter 12 THE TENTH PRINCIPLE: STANDARDIZED OPERATIONS - Harrington Emerson


Chapter XII THE TENTH PRINCIPLE: STANDARDIZED OPERATIONS

HE talked to me for ten minutes, outlined enough work for ten years, and expected it to be completed
in ten days." This is the concise summing up of an interview between an efficient worker and his employer. It is so easy to perceive short- comings, so easy to plan work, so hard to realize that endless activity through endless time is the price of perfection. The hopefulness of humanity is not a recent development.

Moses came down into camp with his tables
of stone and the ten commandments. It took
one minute and fifty seconds to read them slow-
ly and impressively. Moses expected that the
tribes assembled would listen, practice, and
become perfect before they reached the Prom-
ised Land. Thirty-five hundred years have
elapsed and the breach of most of the com-
mandments is still very popular. It is because
the virtues extolled are not obvious, or instinc-
tive, that they have to be graven on stone, that
they have to be repeated weekly if not daily,
that they have to be incorporated in our codes
and enforced by our courts. Nature has ultimate
ideals, but nature's creatures are not habitually
idealists, reverent, kindly, clean, chaste, or
honest. Ideals are so obscure that most of us
do not know what ideals we hold. The warrior
still holds an exalted and honorable position,
not on account of his heroic courage, but on
account of the potential carnage. The corners
engineered in Wall Street, the ebb outward of
enhanced securities, the flow inward of the
same securities artificially depreciated, consti-
tute a tolerated and even admired phase of
modern business ; and so it goes. Two minutes
for orders — a life time, an aeon, for realization !
Can we wonder, therefore, that industrial
operations are unstandardized — that the Moses
who should lead the mob out of the wilderness
flounders around for forty years, never arrives
at all, and (if biblical accounts are correct) left
as villainous a band of marauders, of Apaches,
as ever existed to fall on the cities of Canaan ?
If this were all that the very great and extraor-
dinary actual leader Moses could accomplish,
need we wonder that the ordinary shop man-
agers are not more successful?

We begin indeed with ideals ; we expect end
results; we leap over the intervening stations
of the preceding nine principles, much as if we
expected a train to run from New York to San
Francisco with one helping of coal, water,
lubrication, with one train crew. The rope is
made of many minor strands ; these are twisted
from the numerous threads, and these in turn
have been spun from broken and carded fibres.
The sheep's fleece is a unit, a matted mass that
adheres and forms a whole, not because it is
woven like a blanket, but because of its inter-
woven confusion and tangle. There is no popu-
lar English word for a single thread of wool.
Pull one lock and the whole fleece comes, not
because of orderly connection, but because of
disorderly tangle.

The march of a regiment is one thing, the
surge of the crowd that jostles and sways us
and upsets all orderly progress is another
thing. The sheep is a silly creature, the only
animal that would perish without the care of
man, so no wonder its fleece is such a mess.
The matted, tangled hair of some savages, hair
plastered with mud, is comparable to the fleece,
but civilized man settles the problem by clip-
ping his head hair so that it could not tangle
if it tried, settles his face hair by shaving off
every vestige of it three to six times a week;
but woman, more patient, with more capacity
for taking pains, brushes and combs out her
long locks, beginning at the ends, straightening
a few inches at a time, then reaching higher
up, rearranging all the parts already perfected,
and so back to the head, until each of the 40,000
separate hairs lies in its own appointed place
as to all the others, and all contribute to the
marvelous and intricate creations that as a
whole crown her lovely head. If it were not
for the ideal plan the task would be hopeless.
At least once a day does woman adjust her
hair, the 40,000 single hairs to the general plan,
and once a day should the 40,000 operations
of the shop be straightened out in accordance
with a general plan.

A comprehensive shop plan, graphically ex-
pressed, looks like a flattened tree. Each leaf,
the separate operations, must be in order in its
appointed place; each twig, with its own
definite length, must reach in sequence into the
main branches, these in turn being distributed
at determined intervals along the main stem
and trunk.

The trunk grows upwards and outwards,
from the force implanted in the seed, the J

original ideal of the tree, but there is a reverse
flow of imprisoned sunlight and captured car-
bon from the leaves back into the roots. The
separate operations in a shop must flow into
the final output ; but from the expected output
backward, there must be a plan that reaches
back to each detail of every operation.

It is one thing to build a battleship taking
up details as they occur — the haphazard meth-
od; it is another thing to make the plan first,
place all the details where they belong in time,
space, relation and perfection, and have them
drop into place with the accuracy of a watch
movement — the difference, in fact, between the
running of sand through an unstandardized
aperture, and the precision of the chronometer.
Good results are not achieved by chance.

If we throw four dice with the hope of turn-
ing up four aces, we find that the chances are
enormously against us. I learned this practi-
cally by costly experience and then figured it
out mathematically. At a German country fair
the fakirs had a disk divided into twenty-two
sections, alternately white and red. The sec-
tions carried numbers from 4 to 24. There
were two red sections with the number 14. The
cost per throw of four dice was ten cents, but
every white section was a prize winner ; all the
reds were losers. This looked fair, an even
chance, except for the extra red 14, and as I
gazed I perceived that the prizes were large,
running from twenty-five cents to ten dollars.
All I could possibly risk was ten cents; every
other section was a prize winner and I might
win ten dollars. I threw the dice again and
again, but somehow or other the numbers I
threw came between 9 and 19, and these were
all red numbers, not anything as low as 8 or
as high as 20, the lowest of the prizes. I lost
the whole of the dollar that had been saved up
for the day's enjoyment, for the miniature rail-
road, for the circus, for the other thrillers, and
then I invoked mathematics. All the possible
different throws of four dice are 1,296. There
is one chance in 1,296 of throwing four aces,
of throwing four sixes ; there are four chances
of throwing 5 or 23. There are one hundred
and forty-six chances of throwing 14. The
chances for the white numbers were 146, for
the red numbers, 1,156. The chances against
me were more than eight to one. The profes-
sional gambler wisely loads his dice so they
will throw aces and sixes or at least come high.
In the industrial operation the chance of the
desired combination coming out of itself is just
about the chance of throwing four aces.

We must imitate the professional gambler,
and either select those combinations that will
give us the inevitable advantage — that is, plan
a board to suit — or we must load the dice so as
to offset the chances against us.

There is only one game of chess. There is
the board, standardized as to size, 15 to 16
inches square, just 64 squares, 32 pieces, each
with its definite rights of movement. It looks
like a very limited and standardized condition,
yet possibilities of operation are so infinite that
if all the inhabitants of the world played chess
continually from now until the end of time,
they could not exhaust all the variations, thus
experimentally determining which was the best
possible game, that one in which each player
makes the best possible attacking and resistant
moves, yet the total number of squares traveled
is a minimum. It might be a long drawn-out
game and it might be a short one — who knows,
how shall we ever know? If, therefore, there
is such infinite variety and possibility in chess,
which has been played for centuries, how can
we expect shop operations to standardize them-
selves ?

I have before me one volume of the standard-
practice instructions covering the manufactur-
ing of the gasoline automobile truck car. It
contains 278 isometric designs or illustrations,
314 pages of printed matter, and spaces for
the times and rates of 1,231 distinct operations.
Each one of these operations was preceded by
many designs until one was accepted as ap-
proximately good. The design was split up
into its component parts, investigation made
as to material of each piece, how strong it
should be, what heat treatment should be given,
on what machines it should be shaped, in what
sequence, by which worker. As to each piece
and operation many time studies are made, and
finally from the mass of accurately ascertained
or available information, a carefully pre-studied
work-instruction card is made out. All these
items of planning must precede the time and
cost ratings. Are you appalled at the mass of
detail that precedes the making of a book? If
we have but 100 copies to print it is cheaper,
quicker, and better than manuscript duplica-
tion; if we have 3 copies to make it is better
to choose the typewriter and provide carbon
manifolds than to write it out by hand. If we
want only 300 screws and it takes 3 hours to
set up the automatic machine and only 3 min-
utes to run out the screws, it is better to use
the automatic. A modern activity, whether the
operation of an industrial shop, or a railroad,
or of the turrets and guns of a battleship, is
part of a gigantic, automatic machine; and it
pays to plan in advance, not to trust to the hap-
hazard.

Given the head of hair combed from child-
hood, never matted with clay ; the head of hair
to which daily the habit of neatness, great
skill, and unrelenting care is applied — and the
problem is solved. Given any activity in which
planning has been incorporated as a habit, and
apparent difficulties fade away before patience
and persistence.

Nevertheless, the difficulties are very real
and there is a middle ground between the op-
timism that underrates them and the despair
that refuses to master them. There are be-
tween 8,000 tod 16,000 separate pieces in a
locomotive, and each railroad in the country
wants a different design. One great railroad
used 256 different styles of locomotives, so
that there is an appalling lack of standards;
but the more reason for beginning at once.

Modern watches are marvels of intricate and
perfect construction. Any child can push a
stick in the ground and by the position and
length of the shadow determine approximately
the time. A clepsydra or water clock, an hour
glass, physical material leaking away at a uni-
form rate, was a decided advance at guessing
on the time in the dark, or the time for boiling
an egg. The early clocks with their pendulum
escapements required many months of experi-
mental test before length of pendulum, mesh-
ing of wheels, amount of weight, were adjusted
to one another. There are as many different
kinds of watches and clocks as there are loco-
motives; but each is perfect with a perfection
so great as to be almost inconceivable. The
jewelled bearings, the almost microscopic yet
mathematically perfectly shaped teeth of the
wheels, the hair spring, the balance wheel, each
is perfect in itself, perfectly related to the
others, until the whole is also perfect. This
is not all. Delicate, automatic machines are
made which turn out these perfected parts so
exactly alike as to be interchangeable. Turret
lathes and screw machines, automatic machines
in general, were earliest adapted to clock and
watch making, and from that extended to
larger and heavier parts, often beyond the
point of economy; for in watch screws the
material, even if of gold, would not amount to
very much, the perfection of finish being all-
important, but as the weight of material grows
with the cube of its linear measurement, we
cannot afford to make on automatic machines
crank-pins or even knuckle-pins for locomo-
tives, it being too expensive to cut down the
solid bar.

It would take no more thought and work to
standardize operations for building a locomo-
tive than for building a watch. The difference
is that watches are turned out by the hundred
thousands and locomotives only by the thou-
sand; but this difference is not as great as it
seems, for a watch movement may average $5
in value and a locomotive $15,000, so that one
locomotive corresponds to 3,000 watches, and
as we have not hesitated to undertake the work
of designing each separate locomotive part, we
need not fear the labor of standardizing the
operation of manufacture for each separate
locomotive part

Another instance of standardized operation
is the printing of a book. The old writers were
individualists; there was no standardized
operation. Each made not only the size of the
letters to suit himself, but also their forms,
took pride in not being like other scribes ; each
spelled the words his own way, each used his
stylus or brush as he preferred, preparing his
own ink, his own papyrus or parchment. Now
we buy half a dozen newspapers a day for a
cent each, we buy a dozen magazines a week
for ten cents each, we buy a hundred books a
year for a dollar or two each. Scarcely any two
books are alike; there is far greater variation
than in locomotives or watches ; but each book
is made up and printed with standardized
spelling, standardized lines, standardized pages
and standardized signatures ; even the book it-
self approaches a standard in size. The ink is
made to suit various fluctuations in the
weather, the paper is made to suit the quality
of the book in press. While printing is as yet
standardized in a rudimentary way only, while
it affords a field as large as any manufacturing
business in the country, it has nevertheless in
certain limited directions standardized opera-
tion to an advanced extent,

In the watch, in the book, we have the stand- ardized operation as to the manner in which it shall be carried out; but there is another element — that of individual skill.

Two men may both show a model wall of
brick, yet one man may have laid 3,000 bricks
a day, the other man only 300.

"So true it is that one man and one intellect
properly qualified for the particular undertak-
ing is a host in itself and of extraordinary effi-
ciency." Thus wrote Polybius, 212 B. C, in
describing the work of that great engineer
Archimedes, who, by his individual genius,
flung rocks from catapults at the approaching
besieging ships, who constructed cranes that
let down grab hooks, lifted the ships out of the
water, and turning them over, let them fall to
destruction.

Horses have trotted and trotted well for
many centuries, but it remained for Americans
to figure out that the value of a minute might
be rated at $3,000,000, and that to eliminate
the minute, to evolve the mile-in-two-minute
horse from the mile-in-three-minute horse
would be worth this amount. Prizes were offered
to crack trotters for beating their own record,
$10,000 for the fifth of a second, and there are
300 fifths in a single minute. It was not only
the horse that was developed; it was also the
American stop-watch spirit, so that our fire
fighters, whose every movement for men and
teams has been standardized, are able to charge
across the threshold of their firehouse 20 sec-
onds after the gong has sounded. Less than
the fifth of a second is said to cover the advan-
tage of a runner to first base in modern base-
ball.

At an international contest in Berlin several
years ago it took the English team over two
minutes and the German team over eight min-
utes to make a start

Now aeroplanes have come; and at the inter-
national meet in Belmont, true to our national
virtues and our national faults, we were pre-
pared to time the flights to the hundredth part
of a second, but with a year's warning we had
no machines wherewith to fly and we lost to
the foreigners because we were unprepared.

Probably the most marvelous and valuable
example of standardized operations anywhere
in the world is on our American fleets in battle
practice. The art of war has not changed as
to its fundamentals since men first began to
fight on land or sea. The purpose is with a
stronger force to overwhelm a weaker opposing
fleet, to strike first, hardest and quickest. It
was Goliath's idea to pick off the Israelites one
by one, and a modern pugilist could defeat a
hundred men if they charged him singly, and
he could down the first before the second came
up. A Dreadnaught makes all the navies of
the world without Dreadnaughts obsolete, be-
cause such a battleship with its ten 12-inch
guns, can fire a broadside from all of them at
once while steaming at 21 knots.

Such a battleship, steaming as fast as any
rivals, bringing more guns into action than any
rival, hitting an enemy at seven miles, could
destroy the whole of an opposing fleet one by
one, even as the pugilist would take the lighter
weights one by one. But the horse-trotting,
fire-fighting American stop-watch practice is
also in the Navy, and it was realized that if
these big guns could be fired four times as fast,
it would be very nearly the same as having
four times as many guns or four times as many
Dreadnaughts, and also that if the skill of aim
could be increased four-fold, if four shots
would reach the target as compared to one in
the older practice, one modern Arkansas or
Wyoming, with twelve 12-inch guns, firing four
times as fast and hitting four times as often,
will, for the time being at least, be sixteen
times as effective. These big guns are loaded,
aimed, and fired twice in a minute. The prac-
tice drill is only half this time, and this prac-
tice drill is of two kinds. There is the physical
act of loading the heavy gun, there is the more
important act of pointing it. Two opposing
ships are 10,000 yards apart (about 6 miles)
steaming at 18 knots in diverging directions.
The rate of change of range may be 750 yards
a minute. If the range is set for every 50
yards, it must be redetermined every 4 seconds.
This is impossible, but it can be determined
every 30 seconds and a salvo be fired every 30
seconds. Being able to determine the range
twice a minute, to fire twice a minute, the re-
maining part is drill in pointing or aiming, and
this is done by means of much practice with
models. To hit a target 60 feet wide and 30
feet high at 30,000 feet with a big gun, when
you can cover it twice over by the point of a
lead pencil at arm's length, is considerably
harder than to hit a target 1 inch high at 83
feet with a small gun ; but it is much better and
much cheaper to fire 1,000 shots with the small
gun than to fire the big gun once, and when the
big gun is fired four times in practice, after
training with small apparatus, it will do better
than if firing 100 real shots without the model
practice.

In the battle practice I saw the first 12-inch
range-finding shot, from a distance of 14,000
yards, go clean through a 30 by 60 target ; and
so accurate and secure was the aim of all the
salvos that we calmly watched the shots splash
all around the floating target only 400 yards
away. The firing end was not less impressive.
The team work was so perfect that the salvos
from the same ship were redirected one after
the other almost with the ease with which a
child swings a garden hose.

I have also watched diminutive and juvenile
Igorot savages shoot dimes from a forked stick
at 60 feet with bow and arrow. The Igorots
show us the beginnings of offensive skill ; mod-
ern American battleship target practice shows
us the highest speed, accuracy, and distance yet
attained, and we may not doubt that our pres-
ent achievement is but a step in man's ultimate
achievement.

The improvement in the effectiveness of the
different ships of the Navy in the last five
years is very great, and is probably the great-
est improvement both in importance and mag-
nitude that has ever been accomplished. Think
of the small degree to which the steam turbine
is superior to the reciprocating engine (a ques-
tionable 5 per cent), or how very little faster
the best passenger trains are than the slowest
of the same class (about 25 per cent) . Think
of the enormous expense in time and money
spent in developing either steam turbines or
high-speed trains — then think of the sixteen-
fold increased efficiency of our battleships as
compared to five years ago, an increased effi-
ciency due to the application of the principles
of efficiency — all of them — Ideals, Common
Sense, Competent Counsel, Discipline, the Fair
Deal, Reliable and Imediate Records, Schedules
(of 10,000 yards) , Despatching (of big shot at
the rate of ten or twelve a minute) , Standard-
ized Conditions, Standardized Operation (se-
cured by constant and assiduous team drill),
most minute Standard-Practice Instructions
(as to how fifths of seconds can be saved
in time) ; finally, a joyful and much coveted
Efficiency Reward, in both honor and emol-
ument, when the tremendous results have
been accomplished. And when this appears not
only in the spectacular gunnery, but also in the
more prosaic but continuously important opera-
tions of firing coal ; of coaling ship (the record
as to this having increased from 30 tons an
hour to 360 tons an hour on some of the ships
for the whole cruise around the world) ; of
the maintenance of operation of machinery on
board ship without going to Navy yards — these
accomplishments show that high efficiency re-
quires neither great outlay nor protracted
time, but only the proper intelligence, spirit,
and organization. The seagoing form of or-
ganization is admirably adapted to apply the
principles, since a gun drill, a coal drill, a re-
coaling drill, is but a practical and modern
form of drill. The ideal is not a mere dress
parade, but to hit accurately, fast, and furi-
ously, at the greatest distance, an enemy's ship
overtaken by better management throughout;
and this ideal has been accomplished, stop
watch in hand refining all the conditions and
operations, this refinement made possible by
bringing to bear all the available knowledge in
the universe. This Navy work is a great game,
not drudgery ; it is pleasurable excitement and
joyously hard work.

Thus gradually, from all sides — from the watch and sewing-machine and typewriter fac- tory, from the race-track, from the fire-fighters, from the manipulation of the big 12-inch guns, from schedules, despatching, standardized con- ditions and standardized operation in some shops — the methods of efficiency are spreading.

Planning pays; the application of all the principles of efficiency pays; but standardized operation is the principle that most appeals to the individuality of the man, of the worker. Ideals are passive, common-sense is passive, planning in all its phases is passive, but standardized operation becomes an individual joy with its wealth of active manifestation.

Let none hesitate because we cannot stand-
ardize each new operation. We cannot stand-
ardize every errand boy's every trip ; we cannot
standardize every naval battle; but we can so
inspire both errand boy and admiral that each
will always do his best, we can give them train-
ing, knowledge, help, and incentive; and if we
do this for them and for all other workers,
even though we cannot drill and redrill as to
the performance of the occasional operation,
we can be absolutely sure that no savable time
will be wasted nor effort lost in performing it.

Commentary by KVSSNRao

Planning pays; the application of all the principles of efficiency pays; but standardized operation is the principle that most appeals to the individuality of the man, of the worker. Ideals are passive, common-sense is passive, planning in all its phases is passive, but standardized operation becomes an individual joy with its wealth of active manifestation.

No comments:

Post a Comment