At the End of Four Months
Now, what about the lazy, indolent, work-shy production force? There had been a glorious cleanup around the factory and the yard, the stores and the offices. Walls had been painted, windows could be seen through, the heating system had been put in order, and the lavatories were clean. On the production front, any job that would not flow was withdrawn to be ironed out by Design and Engineering before reintroduction to the shop. Internal and Goods inspection was nailed down. This and much more had been done with a will and almost a sense of excitement - there was so much to see for the effort. Apart from several early occasions, when I mentioned my discontent to the Works Manager about the lack of activity of some of the workforce, I had no cause at any time to complain of quality or quantity and certainly not behavior.
At the end of the fourth month I had the happy experience of going round telling individuals and groups how proud I was of their performance. Without overtime or cash incentive they had increased throughput by 140%. In a few more months we could clear the pressing debts, and I could do something about pay. Not one soul had asked for an increase over this period.
All very corny, you might say. To the management theorist, perhaps so, but when you get beyond the understanding of the lowest common intellectual denominator you lose touch, and when you lose touch you lose control. I kept my bargain, I would not go into the works without the manager, and I would not deal with anyone but department or section heads. To identify other problems, for months I dealt personally with incoming mail, which mainly revealed the delicate cash situation and customer discontent.
The Boss was delighted. When he went on his sales trips he carried with him a book detailing each client's outstanding orders and when they would be delivered. It detailed, too, the work-in-progress so that he could satisfy delivery questions on new enquiries and orders.
He was sufficiently impressed to offer me the Managing Director's job. I accepted. Unfortunately, his colleagues, whom he had not consulted, decided against it and so I promptly resigned. I was asked to see a director of the banking company. He informed me that I was his sort of man, whatever that meant. He certainly was not mine.
He had some weird notion that my appointment might be an embarrassment to the sale of the company, which was the only way in which they could recover the money they had put in. But how could it be offered for sale unless it was put into shape? He promised that I would be brought into the affairs of the company at monthly directors' meetings.
What was it that they could talk about that I did not already know or control? But I stayed on for the sake of my colleagues. I was in no hurry.