1.Part One: Basic Thinking

- Dunsite Engineering needs a reorganization. I've got a six part series on video cassettes. Will you look at them? No. Here, give me the helm or we'll never get back.
- The secret of high morale and efficiency is to have first class shop floor managers. But there is no shared concept of the term manager. Skilled work and boring work really don't exist. Those stemming from the lack of shared concepts and mental models.
- All human work includes the use of discretion in the pursuit of objectives and the carrying out of tasks. If people capable of using a high level of discretion are given work which requires only a low level, they will be bored. Most boredom is the result of misfit between personal capacity and level of work.
- A manager must have the right to decide who is most or least capable amongst his immediate subordinates. He must also have the authority to veto appointments to roles immediately subordinate to him. If all the answers to those questions are yes, then the role is a managerial one.
- First of a series of films on organization. Communications management by magic. How the Americans do it all better. Ideas in these tips are absolutely practicable. There's nothing revolutionary about it at all.
- The way in which we all behave at work is partly a function of our organizational environment. Random confusion in organization produces anxiety, hostility and antisocial behavior. If we want to avoid such behavior, we must be able to organize better.

Speaker A Well, we should make our anchories before dusk if this breeze holds. Speaker B Hi. Speaker A Get a bit of fishing in, stay aboard overnight, make an early start and go straight to the work...

NOTE: This transcript of the video was created by AI to enable Google's crawlers to search the video content. It may be expected to be only 96% accurate.

Speaker A Well, we should make our anchories before dusk if this breeze holds.

Speaker B Hi.

Speaker A Get a bit of fishing in, stay aboard overnight, make an early start and go straight to the works.

Speaker B So we could have hadn't promised to be home tonight.

Speaker A Oh, damn.

Speaker B But I'll offer you a deal. A deal? If you put on your managing director's hat.

Speaker A No, I keep that for the office, not for sailing.

Speaker B Look, I only want to talk shop for five minutes. And for that I'm prepared to phone my wife and face her off.

Speaker A Five minutes. Okay, it's a deal.

Speaker C Thanks.

Speaker A But you're going to say yet again that there's an organizational problem at Dunsite Engineering which you, as personnel manager, are not in a position to solve. But we're busy. The P L account looks healthy, efficiency, not bad. Labour relations different.

Speaker B And if the general setup says that it is I can't do much more than I'm doing.

Speaker A All right, we've been through all this before. I accept that a degree of reorganization is needed but I'm not convinced that the way to do it is according to some book that you've read about the goings on in some other company.

Speaker B You won't read it?

Speaker A It's too busy.

Speaker B Oh, you think I'm pushing idealism.

Speaker A No, not exactly that, no, you implied it.

Speaker B Now let me say very firmly there's nothing peculiar or idealistic about these ideas. If I implement it, every employee from top to bottom of the organization would know exactly who's accountable to what. And that includes drop, stewards, participation, the writings on the wall.

Speaker A Look, you've said nothing new. Why this deal?

Speaker B But, look, since you won't, I mean well, since you don't have time to read books, I'd like you to do.

Speaker D The next best thing. See some short lectures.

Speaker A Management films?

Speaker B Well, sort of. I've got a six part series on video cassettes. Blame an Italian office if you like.

Speaker A How long?

Speaker B About 20 minutes each some shorter. Will you look at them?

Speaker A No. I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll have a look at the first one, and if I think the ideas are any good, I might have a look at the second.

Speaker D Great.

Speaker C Thanks.

Speaker A Now, your five minutes are up, and you're off course again. Here, give me the helm or we'll never get back.

Speaker B No, I'll concentrate now, and I'll come.

Speaker A Ashore and listen to you chatting up your wife.

Speaker E How does this thing work, Ellie?

Speaker C It's like a sound recorder. It's all buttons, really.

Speaker E Well, you better not be wasting my time.

Speaker F A family tree. An authority chart. An organizational structure, perhaps of a civil service department or of an industrial concern or of a chain store. A network of work roles. One man at the top, accountable for all of the work of the organization with descending layers of managers, specialists, supervisors, clerks, craftsmen, operatives. The all pervading organization structure upon which society is so dependent.

Speaker D You know, it is extraordinary, but there's no term in general use to refer to these pyramids of work crawls. I shall therefore call them employment hierarchies.

Speaker F The employment hierarchy. The most effective way of bringing the work of large numbers of people with widely differing abilities to bear on some common endeavor. It is the basis of our current economic standards of life.

Speaker D In many countries, many attempts have been made to find alternative forms of organization. By and large, they haven't succeeded. Our effort must therefore be directed towards making hierarchies better able to serve social and psychological as well as economic needs. To do this, we need much greater understanding of the nature of hierarchies. The need for this is emphasized that one.

Speaker C Something not clear?

Speaker E Oh, no. Quite clear, Ben. I just wanted a moment for the idea to sink in. That employment hierarchy is the basis of our current standards of life.

Speaker C It is, isn't it?

Speaker E I suppose it is, now I think of it.

Speaker C Then it's important we understand it.

Speaker E That one, yes.

Speaker D To do this, we need much greater understanding of the nature of hierarchies. The need for this is emphasized by.

Speaker F The following figures of the working population in Britain today, more than 90% are employees. Less than 5% are employers or self employed. Nearly 23 million people spend a major portion of their lives in doing work in return for pay.

Speaker D Most employees work in employment hierarchies which tend to grow larger and larger. One of the results of this growth in size is a rapid increase in the amount of confusion, anxiety and hostile behavior. Few of us, whatever our position, are satisfied with the current state of affairs. We tend to criticize others. Somebody else is always the villain. Most people seem to be pessimists about the future. I'm an optimist because I have a firm belief in two important ideas. Here is the first of them.

Speaker F The behavior of an individual at work is as much conditioned by the nature of the role he occupies and its relation with other roles as by his personality and its interaction with other personalities.

Speaker D Behavior as much conditioned by nature of role and its relation with other roles as by personality and its interaction with other personalities. A comprehensive statement and vital to this study of organization. Note that I am not suggesting that the work environment changes personality but I repeat my belief that human behavior can be changed by the organizational environment at work. If we accept that behavior, not personality, can be changed we need no longer look on irrational and antisocial behavior as an inevitable result of the makeup of all of us. We can stimulate more rational behavior by creating an unambiguously, clear and acceptable structural environment. That's what organization is about. And that means do you accept that?

Speaker E I understand the argument, of course.

Speaker C But you'd like some evidence.

Speaker E It might help.

Speaker C For the first year after you became managing director you were only too frequently like a bear with a sore head. We all knew why because the chairman was looking over your shoulder. He didn't know where your authority started or finished. I know you had it out with him, and I know when. Because when you were given real command, you changed.

Speaker E Good God, was it all that obvious?

Speaker C Sorry to get personal, but it makes a point. Your behavior changed, not your personality.

Speaker E Oh.

Speaker C Doesn't all your experience support the idea that organizational model breeds bloody mindedness?

Speaker E Of course.

Speaker C And that clarity brings high morale and all that goes with it?

Speaker E Yes. Well, let's get on.

Speaker D That's what organization is about. And that means that willy nilly, our behavior is affected by the structure of our employment hierarchies and by the relationships between roles. Now, these relationships will vary according to the way in which authority and accountability are distributed. How we set up effective organization is another matter which leads to the second.

Speaker F Important idea to plan and discuss authority and accountability relationships in employment hierarchies, we need precise language. Unless we share this language, then whatever we say may be misinterpreted. Words which refer to precise ideas are, in science, called concepts.

Speaker D Concepts, when rigorously defined, are the bricks we use to build in our minds the mental pictures of situations without which we cannot tackle problems. Unless we're able to share the same mental models of external situations then discussion leads to confusion. 400 years ago, such confusion existed in the physical sciences. The change in the mode of thinking which has led to our present ability to solve scientific and technological problems was initiated by men like Kepler, Galileo, Bacon and Newton, based first on the capacity to describe what they saw in objective terms. In 1620, Francis Bacon wrote about reforming the study of our physical environment as.

Speaker F Follows now, what the sciences stand in need of is a form of induction which shall analyze experience and take it to pieces and by a due process of exclusion and rejection lead to an inevitable conclusion.

Speaker D With these beliefs, he and others reformed science. That's the sort of approach we require today in studying our social environment of which hierarchical organization is a part. The new mode of scientific thinking brought about the existence of thousands of internationally shared concepts. Thinkers were then able to contribute to an international pool of knowledge. For instance, without the concepts of, ohms, volts, amps capacity and inductance there could be no sharing of mental models of electrical circuits. Now, why do the social sciences lack such concepts? Largely, I think because it is assumed that precision and discipline in the use of language is not possible in situations involving human beings.

Speaker E It isn't simply I was I am an engineer. I have no argument with him over his reasons for technological advances and so on. But to use the same modes of thinking about the organization of people no, I can't accept it is too mechanistic.

Speaker C As an engineer, you could easily describe in exact detail the precise function of every part of one of our gearboxes and its relation to every other part, naturally. Could you do the same for Dunsyth Engineering's Employment? Hiroke?

Speaker E Yes, I think I could.

Speaker C Last month you had an Argy bargie with Andrew Black about floor management in the gear factory, and you told him that the secret of high morale and efficiency was to have first class shop floor managers.

Speaker E Well, you'd hardly dispute that.

Speaker C No, but since we've no shared concept of the term manager and we haven't, because this is something we discussed neither Black as general manager nor I as personal nail manager will ever know whether we've achieved the situation you want. So how can you say that you can be as precise in talking to your subordinates about shop floor management as you are when you discuss gear cutting technology.

Speaker D Those stemming from the lack of shared concepts and mental models. For example, too many managers have come to regard a statement of a unit cost as a fact. But unit costs are usually the result of arbitrary assumptions made by cost accountants. Again, some people would describe their men as doing boring work, of this man as performing skilled work. But skill is a property of a person. Boredom is a state of mind. Skilled work and boring work really don't exist. Let me define the term work employment.

Speaker F Work, that is, all human work includes the use of discretion in the pursuit of objectives and the carrying out of tasks. The area over which the individual is authorized to use judgment is bounded by the policies, regulations and routines established by the organization as a whole and by an individual's manager.

Speaker E Discretion equals judgment.

Speaker C If you like the freedom to decide.

Speaker E Or choose, I'll take that. I've never liked the idea that people are employed to do and not to think jobs that don't involve the use of judgment. Discretion, if you like, should be easy to mechanize, like the automatic feeds you.

Speaker C Go black to install on the presses.

Speaker E A case in point.

Speaker D Contrast that definition of employment work with the assumption that managers, foreman and supervisors decide the why and wherefore of the work to be done and their subordinates unthinkingly carry it out. The only reason for employing people rather than machines to do work is because people have minds and can use judgment. Defining the term work throws more light on the subject of so called boring work. If people capable of using a high level of discretion are given work which requires only a low level, they will be bored. Most boredom is the result of misfit between personal capacity and level of work.

Speaker E Practice. What you preach amish. Well, some of those very simple office jobs, there's a terrific turnover of people on them. You'll have to find some pretty simple people to put on those jobs. Then they won't get bored.

Speaker D The term concept, as I've said, means something precise to the physical scientists. They form concepts first by agreeing on a range of perceptions, then by logical deduction they will derive a concept from these agreed perceptions. Note, however, that the perceptions required are not a random selection, but those concerned with the unique characteristics of the idea under study. Applying this method, let us take the concept of manager and build it up. We will do this from a range of agreed perceptions. I'm sure you'll agree that in any organization there are some roles to which more work is allocated than the incumbent can personally perform. He must therefore get some of the work in the role done for him by others. But he is still held accountable by higher authority for the totality of the work in his role.

Speaker F C One, C Two and C Three are subordinate to B and B is subordinate to A.

Speaker D Let us consider the position of B.

Speaker F He must have the authority to veto the appointment of subordinates.

Speaker D Why? Because logically if A imposes a man of his choice upon B and B considers that man incapable of the work, b cannot be held fully accountable for the totality of the work in the role.

Speaker F Therefore, a manager must be able to veto appointments to roles immediately subordinate to him.

Speaker D A manager must have the right to decide who is most or least capable amongst his immediate subordinates and to allocate work to them in the way in which he decides. If A says that C one should do a certain part of B's work and B on his knowledge of C one's capabilities disagrees, then if A insists B again cannot be held accountable for the way in which that work is done.

Speaker F A manager must have the authority to assess the work of immediate subordinates.

Speaker D A manager may have a subordinate who proves, in the manager's opinion, incapable of carrying out the work in his role. If the manager has no authority to insist that the person vacates the role, he cannot be held accountable for the way in which the work of the role is done. Now by that I do not mean that a manager should have the right to discharge subordinates because that implies cessation of employment with the whole company. A person who has proved inadequate in one role may very well fit into another role in the same company. I suggest we say that a manager must have the authority to deselect immediate subordinates. A new word, but I think A necessary one. Thus, if A tells B that C three must be retained in his role, although in B's experience c three isn't capable of carrying out the work required, then again B cannot be held accountable for the totality of the work in.

Speaker F His role, a manager must have the authority to deselect immediate subordinates.

Speaker D We have now derived a concept or definition of a manager by selecting the unique characteristics of the idea under study. A boundary defined concept. Using it, you will find it perfectly simple to define whether or not a person is in a managerial role by asking three questions.

Speaker F One, can he veto appointments to immediately subordinate roles? Two, is he solely accountable for making differential assessments of immediate subordinates? Three, can he deselect subordinates?

Speaker D If all the answers to those questions are yes, then the role is a managerial one. I particularly recommend a look at the role of foreman in this manner. You may find that many are not in managerial roles and that because of this, there's much confusion in this area of organization.

Speaker E Just a minute. I see what he's getting at. He's not describing a manager's work at all.

Speaker C No, he's talking about roles. The definition simply states the aspects of authority that distinguish his type of role.

Speaker E From other types of roles. He uses the word veto. Now, does that give him B, in this case, the right to reject a candidate he doesn't want?

Speaker C That's right. B can't have people foisted on him, but B can't have anybody he wants because A can also veto candidates.

Speaker E Oh, I have no argument about that. I mean, if I'm to function properly, I've got to be looking to the future.

Speaker C Good. Now, for the second statement that your factory managers are the essential judges of that immediate subordinates work.

Speaker E I agree. I'm just staggered that you do.

Speaker C Why?

Speaker E Well, you personnel people seem to spend your time telling managers whether or not the subordinates are any good.

Speaker C I suppose there's some truth in that.

Speaker E And it doesn't half annoy them.

Speaker C Anyway, we've given that up since I started reading this stuff. I can inform managers about past performance because I got the records. But I can't help to assess present performance. Only a man's manager knows the details of his subordinates work. Nobody else can make judgments about performance.

Speaker E That's two of the three points. Now, this curious word deselect, which is made quite clear, doesn't mean the SEC.

Speaker C We already give our managers the limited power to deselect. If one of them's dissatisfied with a subordinate's work, he comes along to see me. And if he's worn the man sufficiently, I take him off his hands and try to fit him into a more suitable job. But our language doesn't fit our practice because our managers call us dismissal. So what to raise the hackles of every shop steward in the place?

Speaker E But you can't always fit them into another job.

Speaker C Then a dismissal situation may arise, but it's not a single person decision. I tried bloody hard to fit a man in because I regard it as quite ridiculous to assume that because a man's field in one job, he's not fit for any other in the company. And added to that, I reckon it costs between 301,000 pounds to select, induct and train a new veteran.

Speaker E Yes, I've seen your figures. I must say, Hamish, there seems to have been some infiltration of these ideas, at least in your setup. Let's see.

Speaker D Some more managerial judgments about subordinates must be based on their work as subordinates. It must not be influenced by their race, religion, politics, length of hair or external activities, and so on. So individual appeal procedures are necessary in order to protect subordinates against managerial assessments being based on matters other than work. I shall be discussing this very important matter of individual appeal procedures in detail in the fifth part of this series. Now, I want to take up good evening, James.

Speaker E Oh, good evening.

Speaker D Good evening, Roberts.

Speaker C Evening, sir.

Speaker G What's all this blue films?

Speaker E Nothing so exciting, I'm afraid. It's a lecture Hamish has inflicted on me.

Speaker G Bring the Lecturer into the office. And what's it all about? Communications management by magic. How the Americans do it all better.

Speaker E It's the first of a series of films on organization.

Speaker G Oh, that ancient problem. I used to read all the books. I couldn't understand most of it.

Speaker C And the ideas in these tips are absolutely practicable. Mr. Hope. There's no magic. Nobody saying he knows it all. Just very objective about understanding the problems of organization. They're making definitions. There's nothing revolutionary about it at all. They've codified and analyzed practice.

Speaker E Have you got time to have a look at it, sir?

Speaker G I've only got a few minutes. I saw your light on. I thought we might discuss tomorrow's meeting, but that can wait. Let's have a look at it.

Speaker D Now, I want to take up the issue of supervisors. The word is currently used in several different senses. I want to give it a meaning which refers to a particular type of role. Now, managers at shop floor level often require assistance. I shall define supervisor as a special type of managerial assistant.

Speaker F An employee who assists his manager by assigning tasks to those members of his manager's immediate command allocated to him and seeing that those tasks get done.

Speaker D If the supervisor's requirements are not met, he must seek to get his manager to give the necessary instructions. A supervisor is not a manager because he can't veto appointments, make final assessments of those allocated to him, or deselect people. Now, this shows a situation very common in workshops and offices.

Speaker F Those at rank one level have free access to their supervisor at rank one and a half level, but not to their manager. The manager doesn't know his immediate subordinates nor the details of their work performance. The supervisor does. So the supervisor who has the knowledge to assess people hasn't got the authority to make decisions about them. And the manager who has the authority lacks the knowledge. This is the situation which should exist. In it. All the manager's subordinates have free access to him. He must know them and their work performance. From our definition of a managerial role, he must have the authority to make differential assessments and to give effect to those assessments.

Speaker D The need for a firm definition of supervisor is made very clear. If we look at the rank one, rank two levels of most large employment hierarchies. There's often organizational confusion of a very serious sort.

Speaker G However right he is.

Speaker C You don't quarrel with all that, sir?

Speaker G I can scarcely contradict a man who says there's often organizational confusion. James, were you thinking?

Speaker E I don't know. Even if I were convinced that the ideas were worth using, I'd be worried about interference from a certain quarter.

Speaker G Mind you, if you did take a decision as chairman, I'm in a good position to keep a dimmer colleague. Zodia here.

Speaker E Yes, thank you. That would help enormously.

Speaker G Well, whatever you do, James, don't involve us in detail. Just make it work. 10:00 tomorrow, then. I suppose you've done your homework.

Speaker C I have.

Speaker G Good night, then.

Speaker B Do you want to see any more, sir?

Speaker G No. I'm too old a dog to be taught new tricks. Good night.

Speaker C Good night. Good night, sir. Did that mean that you?

Speaker E Let's see the rest of it, Hamish.

Speaker D There is often organizational confusion of a very serious sort arising from a proliferation of ill defined roles. These are variously titled leading hand, charge hand, supervisor, assistant foreman, foreman, senior foreman, and so on. It is possible to bring order to this confusion by defining the term manager. Then the crucial facts about who does what and who manages who can be stated. There is often confusion about the degree of authority attached to various roles in our employment hierarchies. But when we have defined employment work, as I did earlier, we can proceed to a definition of authority.

Speaker F Authority is that quality of a role which sanctions the incumbent to make decisions and act within defined limits.

Speaker D We can describe the authority of a role thus by stating the main policies which limit the discretion of the person in the role and by giving examples of the major types of decisions which he is accountable for making if he is to carry out the work of the role. Note the fact that the limits on the authority of a role are sometimes contained in unwritten nonexplicit policies, customs, traditions and so on. Shall I replay that?

Speaker E Just a minute. The main policies which limit discretion and major types of decision which he's accountable for making, et cetera. No, that's all right.

Speaker D I'll conclude with a brief summary of the theme of this first part of the series. The way in which we all behave at work is partly a function of our organizational environment. Random confusion in organization produces anxiety, hostility and antisocial behavior. Now, if we want to avoid such behavior, we must be able to organize better. This entails the same sort of ability to describe our social environment as scientists have achieved in respect of our physical environment by a disciplined conceptual approach. I've chosen to define work authority, manager and supervisor as illustrations of the value of a similarly disciplined conceptual approach to the description of our social environment.

Speaker C Well, what do you think?

Speaker E I'll see the next.

Speaker C Great. And you like the ideas?

Speaker E I didn't say that. Oh, don't look so disappointed, Hamish. You can't expect me to suddenly change my way of thinking. I'm used to dealing with people. Now I'm asked to define roles without people in them.

Speaker C If a role is explicit, then the person who fills it will know exactly where he is and so will all his colleagues. He'll have a great deal more freedom than he has in a non explicit situation.

Speaker E Oh, I see the arguments well enough, but what's the next one about?

Speaker C The roles of staff officers, specialists and accountants.

Speaker E Staff officers? Sounds more like the army, as a matter of fact. All right, there's no need to preempt the cassette. Anybody who can define the role of accountants has got me as a listener.

Speaker H Now, these films are based on the results of research carried out in the Glacier Metal Company Limited, which have been in practice in the company for many years and which are described in detail in Lord Wilfred Brown's book Organization.

Glacier Institute of Management

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