This paper is an edited version of an article by A. Wyrcan, first published in Management Today, March 1975.
Published here July 2010

Editor's Note | Introduction | The Interview | The First Day
From "Chaser" to General Manager | Authority Confused with Management
Labor and Management Confrontation | The Business Must Be a Winner
At the End of Four Months | Conclusion | Issues for Discussion


Is poor industrial performance the fault of the worker or its managers? Wanting to find out, an ex-consultant joined a small company at the bottom and found trouble at the top. Here is his story.

I am retired, and I live on the dividends and interest from investments bought from earned income and this, of course, stimulates an intense interest in the state of the economy. I should explain that, as a former managing director and sometime consultant, I have a reasonable track record and was considered competent to evaluate commercial, industrial and labor performance.

I have read so much of the intractability of production people, the stupidity of managements and the greed of financiers and the like, that I have been inclined to accept these allegations. But are our production forces truly lazy, greedy and unmanageable? Is industrial management really inept, corrupt, effete and lacking in stamina? The only way I could really find out was to get on the inside and see for myself.

I was not looking for a top management job for this study, I wanted to get in where the action was and do a job which would involve me in most aspects and at all levels of an undertaking. I was curious, too, to ascertain my own capabilities after some years away from this sort of activity. But how could I say: "I just want to see how well you perform?"

In any case this was a problem because, at fifty plus, it was questionable whether any company, large or small, would give me a job and even if they did, would it be representative for the study I had in mind? Indeed, would it furnish the opportunity I had in mind? However, I came to the conclusion that if the company was still alive under today's poor conditions, it must be fairly representative. And if not representative, then at least the plan would be an exercise in measuring my own deterioration, if any, after my lay-off.

I wrote some 49 applications without effect but persistence finally produced a result. Scanning the vacancies columns in a local newspaper, I found a company seeking the services of a "progress chaser". I promptly ignored the instruction to write in my application. Instead, I telephoned the company and in 25 minutes presented myself at the reception.

Editor's Note  Editor's Note

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