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It has been inevitable that the meager literature of office management should eventually be enriched by a book inspired by the point of view of scientific management. It has been desirable that when such a book should appear, it should be the contribution of one who has had intimate practical contact with the problems of "supervision of clerical work," and at the same time the vision to see his problems in terms of principles rather than of detail and apparently unrelated mechanisms. In this book these requirements have been met. Characteristics which impress me are:
1. Its appraisal of the importance of clerical work. Clerical workers constitute one of the largest of occupational groups. The increase has been constant, notwithstanding the fact that management is possessed by a deep-seated prejudice against indirect labor as unproductive and an evil to be avoided. In the face of this mental attitude, industry has constantly increased its clerical staff. Circumstances have compelled it to do so. It has acknowledged in fact, although it has not been willing to acknowledge in theory, that clerical labor is indispensable, and that this indispensability is proof that it performs an inherently productive and essential function. That function the author designates as the linking function; clerical work ties together and makes effective the unit operations of general administration and of the financial, sales, and production managements. This concept of the importance of clerical work should bring to every office worker and to every office manager a new appreciation of the dignity of his labor.
2. Its disclosure of the waste in clerical work as now organized, supervised, and conducted. Because indirect labor has been considered unproductive and an evil, because the clerical group has been increased under pressure of ne
cessity and not by intent, and because, therefore, managers have not taken thought concerning the organization and control of clerical work, industry has permitted a huge clerical staff to grow up-just grow up, without regard to economy of energies. It is probably now reasonable to assert that, worker for worker, there is no greater opportunity for elimination of waste than in the field of clerical operations.
3. Its demonstration of the universality of the principles of scientific management. The mental attitude of scientific management-the establishment of policy, principle, and detail method on a factual basis by investigation and experiment, analysis and constructive synthesis-must govern the management of clerical as well as of processing operations; in fact, desk activities are processing operations as surely as are activities at machine and bench. The established principles of scientific management-such as the separation of planning and execution, and the establishment and maintenance of standards of material, equipment, methods, and performance-hold in the field of office management. Even some of the tools and mechanisms of scientific management, discovered in the development of advanced shop management-such as time and motion study, standing orders, and instruction cards-are equally essential in the management of clerical operations. This is not a book on "efficiency management," "which has to do with tinkering and patching, and if it is lucky, finding a better way than the reigning one"; it is a book on "scientific management," which is concerned with finding "the best way of doing a job on the basis of extant technical knowledge."
4. Its assertion that each office presents a problem of management which is in important features not duplicated in any other office and must be solved on the basis of its own discovered facts. Office managers are accustomed to assume that all offices are identical and that mechanisms and methods usable in one may be used successfully, without modification in nature or in application, in any other. Office managers
are generally imitators and adopters, not adapters. It is true that many of the mechanisms and methods which have proved their value in one office will prove their value, in principle, in most other offices; but for the manager of a particular office two questions are always pertinent: Is the function performed by this mechanism or method essential in the office for which I am responsible? If the function is essential, must the inechanism or method be modified to enable it to perform the function economically and adequately as required in my office? There is but one way of finding the answers to these questions-by investigation and experiment.
5. Its consistency in remaining throughout predominantly a book on office management. Mechanisms and methods are abundantly referred to for the purpose of illustrating principles, but nowhere are systems or forms displayed in such detail that the unwary office manager will be tempted into copying them. Instead, there is, for instance, exhaustive explanation of how to go about the designing of forms. Principles, illustrations of principles, and how to go about the utilization of principles, are the things with which a book on management should be concerned.
It is a book to stimulate thinking and the development of a method of attack on problems of office management; and for some readers, no doubt, a book to inspire the formulation of a philosophy of office management.
Taylor Society, New York.
H. S. PERSON