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INCREASING HUMAN EFFICIENCY
A CONTRIBUTION TO THE
PSYCHOLOGY OF BUSINESS
WALTER DILL SCOTT
AUTHOR OF ``THE THEORY OF ADVERTISING,'' ``THE PSYCHOLOGY
OF ADVERTISING,'' ``THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PUBLIC
SPEAKING,'' ``INFLUENCING MEN IN BUSINESS''
I. THE POSSIBILITY OF INCREASING HUMAN EFFICIENCY......1
II. IMITATION AS A MEANS OF INCREASING HUMAN
III. COMPETITION AS A MEANS OF INCREASING HUMAN
IV. LOYALTY AS A MEANS OF INCREASING HUMAN
V. CONCENTRATION AS A MEANS OF INCREASING
VI. WAGES AS A MEANS OF INCREASING HUMAN
VII. PLEASURE AS A MEANS OF INCREASING HUMAN
VIII. THE LOVE OF THE GAME AND EFFICIENCY...........186
IX. RELAXATION AS A MEANS OF INCREASING HUMAN
X. THE RATE OF IMPROVEMENT IN EFFICIENCY............223
XI. PRACTICE PLUS THEORY............................254
XII. MAKING EXPERIENCE AN ASSET: JUDGMENT
XIII. CAPITALIZING EXPERIENCE: HABIT FORMATION......303
INCREASING HUMAN EFFICIENCY
THE POSSIBILITY OF INCREASING HUMAN
THE modern business man is the true
heir of the old magicians. Every
thing he touches seems to increase
ten or a hundredfold in value and usefulness.
All the old methods, old tools, old instruments
have yielded to his transforming spell or else
been discarded for new and more effective
substitutes. In a thousand industries the
profits of to-day are wrung from the wastes
or unconsidered trifles of yesterday.
The only factor which has withstood this
wizard touch is man himself. Development
of the instruments of production and distribution
has been so great it can hardly be
measured: the things themselves have been
so changed that few features of their primitive
models have been retained.
Our railroad trains, steamships, and printing
presses preserve a likeness more apparent
than actual. Our telephones, electric lights,
gas engines, and steam turbines, our lofty office
buildings and huge factories crowded with
wonderful automatic machinery are creations
of the generation of business men and scientists
still in control of them.
_By comparison the increase in human efficiency
during this same period (except where
the worker is the slave of the machine, compelled
to keep pace with it or lose his place) has been
Reasons for this disproportion are not
lacking. The study of the physical antedates
the study of the mental always. In the history
of the individual as well as of nations,
knowledge of the psychical has dragged far
behind mastery of tangible objects. We come
in contact with our physical environment and
adjust ourselves to it long before we begin to
study the _*acts_ by which we have been able
to control objects around us.
It was inevitable, therefore, that attention
should have been concentrated upon the material
and mechanical side of production and
distribution. Results there were so tangible,
so easily figured. For example, if the speed
of a drill or the strokes of a punch press were
multiplied, the increase would be easily recognized.
The whole country, too, was absorbed
in invention, in the development of tools to
accomplish what had always required hand
labor. The effort was not so much to increase
the efficiency of the individual worker--
though many wise and far-sighted employers
essayed studies and experiments with varying
success--as to displace the human factor
As the functions and limitations of machinery
have become clearer in recent years,
business men have generally recognized the
importance of the human factor in making
and marketing products. Selecting and handling
men is of much more significance to-day
than ever before in the history of the world
--the more so as organizations have increased
in size and scope and the individual
employee is farther removed from the head
and assigned greater responsibilities.
It is not a difficult task to build and equip
a factory, to choose and stock a store. The
problems of power and its transmission come
nearer solution every day. Physics and chemistry
have revealed the secrets of raw materials.
For any given service, the manufacturer
can determine the cheapest and most
suitable metal, wood, or fabric which will
satisfy his requirements, and the most economical
method of treating it.
Of the elements involved in production or
distribution, the human factor is to-day the
most serious problem confronting the business
man. The individual remains to be
studied, trained, and developed--to be
brought up to the standard of maximum
results already reached by materials and
Few employers can gather a force of effi-
cient workers and keep them at their best.
Not only is it difficult to select the right men
but it is even harder to secure top efficiency
after they are hired. Touching this, there
will be no dispute. Experts in shop management
go even farther. F. W. Taylor, who has
made the closest and most scientific study,
perhaps, of actual and potential efficiency
among workers, declares that:--
``_A first-class man can, in most cases, do
from two to four times as much as is done on
``This enormous difference,'' Mr. Taylor
goes on to say, ``exists in all the trades and
branches of labor investigated, from pick-
and-shovel men all the way up the scale to
machinists and other skilled workmen. The
multiplied output was not the product of a
spurt or a period of overexertion; it was
simply what a good man could keep up for
a long term of years without injury to his
health, become happier, and thrive under.''
Ask the head of any important business
what is the first qualification of a foreman
or manager, and he will tell you ``ability to
_Men who know how to get maximum results
out of machines are common; the power to get
the maximum of work out of subordinates or out
of yourself is a much rarer possession_.
Yet this power is not necessarily a sixth
sense or a fixed attribute of personality.
It is based on knowledge of the workings of
the other man's mind, either intuitive or
acquired. It is the purpose of this and
succeeding chapters to consider some of the
aspects of human nature that can be turned
to advantage in the cultivation of individual
efficiency and the elimination of lost motion
and wasted effort.
In a thousand instances, in factory and
market place, unrecognized use has been made
of the principles of psychology by business
men to influence other men and to attain their
_For the science of psychology is in respect
to certain data merely common sense, the wisdom
of experience, analyzed, formulated, and codified_.
_It has taken its place, alongside physics and
chemistry, as the ally and employee of trade and
The time has come when a man's knowledge
of his business, if the larger success is to be
won, must embrace an understanding of the
laws which govern the thinking and acting of
the men who make and sell his products as well
as those others who buy and consume them.
The achievements of the human mind and
the human body seem to many to be out of
the range of possible improvement through
application of any science which deals with
these human activities. Muscular strength
and mental efficiency seem to be fixed quantities
not subject to increase or improvement.
_The contention here supported, however, is
that human efficiency is a variable quantity
which increases and decreases according to law.
By the application of known physical laws the
telephone and the telegraph have supplanted the
messenger boy. By the laws of psychology
applied to business equally astounding improvements
are being and will be secured_.
Employers sometimes find that their men
are not working well, that they loaf and kill
time on every possible occasion. The men
are not trying and are indifferent to results.
Under such circumstances a new foreman,
the dismissal of the poorer workmen,
modification of the wage scale or method of
payment, or some other device may correct
the evil and induce the men to exert themselves.
Again, the men are working industriously
and may feel that an increase in output would
be injurious to health or even impossible.
They think they are doing their best; while
the employer himself may feel that he is
achieving but little, although he assumes that
he is doing as much as it is wise to attempt.
For instance, Mr. Taylor, in his studies, found
that both employers and men had only a vague
conception of what constituted a full day's
work for a first-class man. The good workmen
knew they could do more than the average;
but refused to believe when, after close
observation and careful timing of the ele-
ments of each operation, they were shown that
they could accomplish twice or three times as
much as their customary tasks.
_Actual instances prove that great increase of
work and results can be secured by outside stimulus
and by conscious effort_.
If there is one place where the limit of
exertion can be counted upon, it is in an inter-
collegiate athletic contest. While taking part
in football games, I frequently observed that
my team would be able to push the opposing
team halfway across the field. Then the
tables would be turned and my team would
give ground. At one moment one team would
seem to possess much superior physical
strength to the other; the next moment the
equilibrium would be changed apparently
without cause. Often, however, the weaker
team would rally in response to the captain's
coaching. On the field a player frequently
finds himself unable to exert himself. His
greatest effort is necessary to force himself to
work. In such a mental condition a vigorous
and enthusiastic appeal from the coach may
supply the needed stimulus and stir him to
sudden display of all his strength.
I recently conducted a series of experiments
on college athletes to determine
whether coaching could actually increase a
man's strength when he was already trying
his ``best,'' and whether he could continue
to work after he was ``completely exhausted.''
I put each man at work on machines which allowed
him to exert himself to his utmost and
measured his accomplishment. While he was
thus employed, the coach began urging him to
increase his exertion. Ordinarily the increase
was marked--sometimes as much as fifty
Again, when the man had exhausted himself
without coaching, the extra demand would
be made on him; usually he was able to continue,
even though without the coaching he
had been unable to do any more. There was,
of course, a point of exhaustion at which the
coaching ceased to be effective.
_The tests proved conclusively that when a man
is doing what he believes to be his best, he is still_
_able to do better; when he is completely exhausted,
he is, under proper stimulus, able to continue_.
Before a horse is started in a race it is
vigorously exercised, ``warmed up.'' To the
uninitiated this process seems so strenuous
as to defeat its purpose by wearing out the
strength of the horse. Every horseman knows,
however, that the animal cannot attain top
speed till after it has undergone this severe
In training for a contest an athlete usually
takes long runs. Soon after the start he feels
weary and exhausted, but, by disregarding this
feeling and continuing to run, a sudden change
comes over him commonly known as ``getting
his second wind.''
Thus the runner feels wave upon wave of
exhaustion followed by waves of invigoration.
Had he stopped when he first began to tire,
he never would have known of his wonderful
reserve fund of strength which can be drawn
upon only by passing through the feeling
of exhaustion. He seems to be able to tap
deeper and deeper reservoirs of strength.
_Many men have never discovered their reserve
stores of strength because they have formed the
fixed habit of quitting at the first access of weariness_.
Thus they never become conscious of the
wonderful resources which might be used if
they were willing to disregard the trifling
wave of weariness.
Our best energies are not on the surface
and are not available without great exertion.
We have to warm up and get our second wind
before we are capable of our best physical or
mental accomplishments. All our muscular
and psychical processes are dependent upon
the activity of the nervous system. This activity
seems to be at its best only after repeated
and vigorous stimulation and after
it has reached down to profound and widely
_Most of us never know of our possible achievements
because we have never warmed up and
got our second wind in our business or professional
When an individual succeeds in tapping his
reserve energies, others marvel at the tremendous
tasks he accomplishes. They judge in
terms of superficial energy, and for such the
results would, of course, be impossible, even
though many of the admiring spectators could
actually equal or excel the deed.
Consider for a moment the work achieved
by Mr. Edward Payson Weston who recently
walked the entire distance from New York
to San Francisco without halt or rest in one
hundred and four days. Throughout the
entire journey Mr. Weston covered about
fifty miles daily, once attaining the remarkable
distance of eighty-seven miles in twenty-four
hours. Though Mr. Weston is seventy years
of age, at the close of the walk he seemed to be
relatively free from exhaustion and undaunted
The work accomplished by such men as
Gladstone and Roosevelt is incomprehensible
to most of us who have never undertaken
more than puny tasks. These men retain their
strength and in no way seem to be undermining
their health by the accomplishment of their
Herculean labors. Body and mind seem to
respond to the demands made upon them.
Their periods of sleep and their vacations
seem to be no more than the hours and days
of rest required by those of us who accomplish
No need, however, to go beyond the field
of business or industry to find men whose
super-energy has carried them to epochial
discoveries or feats of organization. The
invention of the incandescent lamp by Edison
is said to have been accomplished, for instance,
only after forty-eight hours' continuous
concentration on the final problem of finding the
right carbon filament and determining the
proper degree of vacuum in the inclosing
bulb. Months of experiment and research
had gone before; eighteen hours a day in the
laboratory had been no uncommon thing for
the inventor and his assistants, but in the last
strenuous grapple with success his own physical
and mental powers were alone equal to the
strain. Not once during the two days and
nights did he rest or sleep or take his attention
from the successive tests which led up to the
assembling of the lamp which lights the world's
work and play.
The steel blade that is used seems to last as
long as the one which is allowed to lie idle.
The wearing out in the one case does not seem
to be more destructive than the rusting out
in the other.
We have a choice between wearing out and
rusting out. Most of us unwittingly have
chosen the rusting process.
This, indeed, may be said to be Edison's
regular method of work, as it is the method of
many other men who have accomplished great
things in science and industry. Both mind
and body have been trained and accustomed to
exertions which seem quite impossible to ordinary
Many persons find that increased intellectual
activity results in less fatigue and
greater achievements. As a student I did
my best work and enjoyed it most the year
I carried the greatest number of courses and
assumed the most outside duties. In my
capacity as adviser to college students I find
many who are able to accomplish thirty per
cent more work than is expected of college
students but fail to do equally well the regular
amount. There are others who can carry the
regular amount but not more without injury
to their health.
College grades afford a means of recording
intellectual efficiency directed toward particular
problems. With no apparent change in
bodily conditions the same student frequently
increases his efficiency a hundred per cent.
The increase seldom has an injurious effect
on health, but is merely evidence of the fact
that he has suddenly wakened up and is
applying energies which before were undiscovered.
A slow walk for a single mile leaves
many persons ``dragged out'' and exhausted,
but a brisk walk of the same or a greater distance
results in invigoration and recuperation.
Likewise the droning over an intellectual task
results in exhaustion, while vigorous treatment
whets the appetite for additional problems.
This swift, decisive attack on problems was
the method of Edward H. Harriman, who
crowded into ten years the railroad achievements
of an extraordinary lifetime. Decisions
involving expenditure of many millions of
dollars were arrived at so quickly as to seem
off-hand, even reckless. In reality, they were
the products of brief periods of intense application
in which he reviewed all the conditions
and elements involved, and forged his conclusion,
as it were, at white heat. Back of each
decision was exact and thorough knowledge
of the physical and traffic conditions of each
of his railroads. In the case of the Union
Pacific, at least, he gained this mastery by
patient, intensive study of each grade and
curve and freight-producing town on its 1800
miles of track.
The inhabitant of the torrid zone upon
moving to a northern climate is severely
affected by the chill of the atmosphere. The
discomfort may last for days or months, but
he becomes acclimated and is able to withstand
the cold without serious discomfort. Likewise
the inhabitant of a cool climate feels exhausted
by the heat of the torrid zone. In some cases
he is unable to accustom himself to the change,
but in many instances the acclimatization
follows rapidly and leaves the individual well
fortified against the dangers of excessive heat.
Persons who have accustomed themselves
to stimulants of any sort are completely depleted
if they are unable to get the special
form to which they have been accustomed.
This holds true for tobacco, morphine, coffee,
and many other forms of stimulants actually
indulged in by many persons. If they are
able to resist the temptation and deny themselves
the stimulant, the period of exhaustion
soon disappears and the subject may even lose
all craving for that which formerly seemed
essential to his very existence.
The quantity which we eat is partly a
matter of habit. There is doubtless a minimum
of nourishment which is absolutely necessary
for health and strength. On the other
hand there is doubtless a maximum limit
which cannot be passed without serious injury.
Our bodies seem to demand the amount of
food to which we have accustomed them. If
we should increase the amount ten or twenty
per cent, we might, for a while, feel some
discomfort from it, but soon our system
would begin to demand the greater quantity
and we could not again return to the lighter
diet without a period of discomfort. Likewise
the amount of food which most of us
consume could be reduced materially with no
permanent injury or reduction of energy or
danger to health. Following the reduction
would be a period of discomfort and probable
reduction of weight. This period would last
for but a relatively short time, after which we
would again strike a physiological equilibrium
such that an increase of food would not be
craved nor be of any benefit.
Any great increase in the amount of physical
or mental work results in a feeling of weariness
which is usually sufficient to cause us to return
to our habitual amount of expenditure of
energy. Our system is, however, wonderful
in its capacity to adjust itself to changed
demands which come upon it, whether these
demands be in the nature of changes in temperature,
in stimulants, in nourishment, or in
the expenditure of physical or mental energy.
There is, of course, a limit to possible human
achievements. There are resources which
may not be exhausted without serious injury
to health. Those who accomplish most, however,
compare favorably with others in length
of days and retention of health.
_While overwork has its place among the things
which reduce energy and shorten life, it is my
opinion that overwork is not so dangerous or so
common as is ordinarily supposed_.
In not a few industries, the dominant house
or firm has for its head a man past seventy
who still keeps a firm and vigorous grip on the
business: men like Richard T. Crane of
Chicago, E. C. Simmons of St. Louis, and
James J. Hill, whose careers are records of
intense industry and absorbed devotion to the
work in hand.
_Many persons confuse overwork with what is
really underwork accompanied with worry or
A recent writer on sociology calls attention
to the fact that nervous prostrations and
general breakdowns are most common among
those members of society who achieve the
least and who may be regarded as parasites.
Exercise both of brain and of muscle is necessary
for growth and for health.
Those nations which expend the most energy
are probably the ones among whom longevity
is greatest and the mortality rate the lowest.
In the city of Chicago there are many conditions
adverse to health of body and mind, yet
the city is famous for its relatively low mortality
as a parallel fact. It is also affirmed
that the average Chicago man works longer
hours and actually accomplishes more than
the average man elsewhere. This excess in the
expenditure of energy--in so far as it is
wisely spent--may be one of the reasons for
the excellent health record of the city.
In every walk of life we see that the race
is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong.
We all know men clearly of secondary ability
who nevertheless occupy high positions in
business and state. We are acquainted also
with men of excellent native endowment who
still have never risen above the ranks of mediocrity.
_Human efficiency is not measured in terms
of muscular energy nor of intellectual grasp. It
is dependent upon many factors other than native
strength of mind and body_.
The attitude which one takes toward life
in general and toward his calling in particular
is of more importance than native ability.
The man with concentration, or the power of
continued enthusiastic application, will surpass
a brilliant competitor if this latter is
careless and indifferent towards his work.
Many who have accomplished great things
in business, in the professions, and in science
have been men of moderate ability. For
testimony of this fact take this striking quotation
from Charles Darwin.
``I have no great quickness of apprehension
or wit, which is so remarkable in some clever
men,'' he writes. ``I am a poor critic. . . .
My power to follow a long and purely abstract
train of thought is very limited; and therefore
I never could have succeeded with metaphysics
or mathematics. My memory is extensive,
yet hazy; it suffices to make me cautious by
vaguely telling me that I have observed or read
something opposed to the conclusion which I
am drawing, or on the other hand in favor
of it. So poor in one sense is my memory,
that I have never been able to remember for
more than a few days a single date or a line
of poetry. I have a fair share of invention,
and of common sense or judgment, such as
every fairly successful lawyer or doctor must
have, but not, I believe, in any higher degree.''
This is presumably an honest statement
of fact, and in addition it should be remembered
that Darwin was always physically
weak, that for forty years he was practically
an invalid and able to work for only about
three hours a day. In these few hours he
was able to accomplish more, however, than
other men of apparently superior ability who
were able to work long hours daily for many
years. Darwin made the most of his ability
and increased his efficiency to its maximum.
For a parallel in business, Cyrus H. McCormick
might be named. The inventor of the
reaper and builder of the first American business
which covered the world was not a man of
extraordinary intellect, wit, or judgment. He
had, however, the will and power to focus his
attention on a single question until the answer
was evolved. Again and again, his biographers
tell us, he pursued problems which
eluded him far into the night and he was
frequently found asleep at his desk the morning
following. When roused, instead of seeking
rest, he addressed his task again and
usually overcame his obstacle before leaving
All these considerations point to one conclusion.
It is quite certain, then, that most of
us are whiling away our days and occupying positions
far below our possibilities. A corollary
to this statement is Mr. Taylor's conclusion that
``few of our best-organized industries have attained
the maximum output of first-class men.''
_Not to give too wide application to his discovery
that the average day's work is only half
or less than half what a first-class man can do,
it is more than probable that the average man
could, with no injury to his health, increase his
efficiency fifty per cent_.
We are making use of only part of our existing
mental and physical powers and are not
taxing them beyond their strength. Increased
accomplishments, and heightened efficiency
would cultivate and develop them, would
waken the latent powers and tap hidden
stores of energy within us, would widen the
fields in which we labor and would open up
to us new and wider horizons of honorable
and profitable activity.
In succeeding chapters will be described
specific methods, many of which are employed
by individual firms, but which could be utilized
by other business men, to insure their own efficiency
and that of their employees. The experiences
of many successful houses will be linked
to the laws of psychology to point the way that
will bring about greater results from men.
AS A MEANS OF INCREASING HUMAN
TWENTY years ago the head of an industry
now in the million-a-month
class sat listening to his ``star'' salesman.
The latter, in the first enthusiasm of
discovery and creation, was telling how he had
developed the company's haphazard selling
talk and had taken order after order with a
standard approach, demonstration, and summary
of closing arguments. To prove the
effectiveness of ``the one best way,'' he challenged
his employer to act as a customer,
staged the little drama he had arranged, secured
admissions of savings his machine would
make, ultimately cornered the other, and sold
``That's great,'' the owner declared the in-
stant he had surrendered to the salesman's
logic. ``If we can get all our agents to learn
and use this new method of yours, we'll double
our business in three years.''
Then followed discussion of the means by
which the knowledge could be spread.
``I've got it,'' the manager announced at
last. ``I'll telegraph five or six men to come
in''--he named the agents within a night's
ride of the factory--``and you can show
them how you sold fifteen machines last week.
``We could take down your talk in shorthand
and send it to them, but that wouldn't
do the business. I want them to watch you
sell, to study how you make your points, how
you introduce yourself, how you get your
man's attention, how you bring out his
objections and meet them, how you lead up
to the signing minute, and show him where
to sign. _*What you say_ is about half the trick:
_*how you say it_ is the convincing part--the
thing the slowest man in the force by watching
you can learn more quickly than the smartest
could work out at home.''
The result of that conference was one of
the earliest organized training schools for
salesmen in the country. It was an unconscious,
but none the less certain, utilization
of the instinct of _*imitation_ for increasing the
efficiency in employees. Since then, business
has borrowed many well-recognized principles
from psychology and pedagogy and adapted
them to the same end.
Many important houses have grafted the
school upon their organizations and _*teach_
not only raw and untrained employees, but
provide instruction calculated to make workmen
and clerks masters of their jobs and also
to fit them for advancement to higher and
more productive planes. Teaching is by example
rather than by precept, just as it was
in the old apprentice system.
_The newer method uses even more than the
older a perfect example of the process and the
product for the learner's imitation and makes
them the basis of the instruction_.
No man was made to live alone. For an
individual, existence entirely independent of
other members of the race is the conception
of a dreamer; apart from others one would
fail to become _*human_. Modern psychology
has abandoned the individualistic and adopted
the social point of view. We no longer think
of _*imitation_ as a characteristic only of animals,
children, and weak-minded folk.
_We have come to see that imitation is the
greatest factor in the education of the young and
a continuous process with all of us. The part
of wisdom, then, is to utilize this power from
which we cannot escape, by setting up a perfect
copy for imitation_.
The child brought up by a Chinaman
imitates the sounds he hears, hence speaks
Chinese; brought up in an American home,
English is his speech--ungrammatical or
correct according to the usage of his companions.
If one boy in a group walks on
stilts or plays marbles, the others follow his
example. If a social leader rides in an automobile,
wears a Panama hat, or plays golf,
all the members of this circle are restless till
they have the same experience. The same
phenomenon is seen in the professions and in
business. If one bank decides to erect a
building for its own use, other banks in the
city begin to consult architects. If one manufacturer
or distributor in a given field adopts
a new policy in manufacturing or in extending
his trade zone, his rivals immediately consider
plans of a similar sort. Partly, of course,
this act is defensive. In the main, however,
imitation and emulation are at the bottom
of the move.
For the sake of clearness, in studying acts
of imitation we separate them into two
classes--_*voluntary_ imitation (also called conscious
imitation) and _*instinctive_ imitation (also
known as _*suggestive_ imitation).
A peculiar signature may strike my fancy
so that consciously and deliberately I may
try to imitate it. This is a clear case of
voluntary imitation. Threading crowded city
streets, I see a man crossing at a particular
point and voluntarily follow in his path. In
learning a new skating figure I watch an expert
attentively and try to repeat his perform-
ance. In writing letters or advertisements
or magazine articles, I analyze the work
of other men and consciously imitate what
seems best. Or I observe a fellow-laborer
working faster than I, and forthwith try to
catch and hold his pace.
The contagion of yawning, on the other
hand, is instinctive imitation. Also when in
a crowd during the homeward evening rush,
we instinctively quicken our pace though there
may be no reason for hurry.
For precisely similar reasons, a ``loafer''
or a careless or inefficient workman will lower
the efficiency or slow up the production of
the men about him, no matter how earnest
or industrious their natural habits. Night
work by clerks, also, is taken by some office
managers to indicate a slump in industry during
the day. To correct this the individuals
who are drags on the organization are discovered,
and either are revitalized or discharged.
_I have seen more than one machine shop where
production could have been materially raised_
_by the simple expedient of weeding out the workmen
who were satisfied with a mere living wage
earned by piecework, thereby setting a dilatory
example to the rest; and replacing them with
fresh men ambitious to earn all they could, who
would have been imitated by the others_.
In these instances it is assumed that the
imitation is not voluntary, but that we
unconsciously imitate whatever actions happen
to catch our attention. For the negative
action, the ``slowing down'' process, we have
the greater affinity simply because labor or
exertion is naturally distasteful. One such
influence or example, therefore, may sway us
more than a dozen positive impulses towards
Imitation thus broadly considered is seen
to be of the utmost importance in every walk
of life. The greatest and most original genius
is in the main a creature of imitation. By
imitation he reaches the level of knowledge
and skill attained by others; and upon this
foundation builds his structure of original and
creative thought, experiment, and achieve-
ment. Furthermore he does not imitate at
random; but concentrates his activity on
those things and persons in the line of his pursuits.
Among my associates are both industrious
and shiftless individuals. I instinctively imitate
the actions of all those with whom I come
in contact; but if I am sufficiently ambitious,
I will consciously imitate the acts of the industrious.
This patterning after energetic models
will render me more active and efficient than
would have been possible for me without such
_Imitation, accordingly, is an imperative factor
both in self-development and in the control of
groups of individuals. Knowing that I instinctively
imitate all sorts of acts, I must take
care that only the right sort shall catch my attention_.
And since imitation is a most effective aid
in development, I must provide myself with
the best models. To reduce my tendency to
idleness or procrastination I must avoid the
companionship of the shiftless. To acquire
ease and accuracy in the use of French, I must
consort with masters of that tongue.
In handling others, the same rule holds.
_To profit from the instinctive imitation of
my men, I must control their environment in
shop or office and make sure that examples of
energy and efficiency are numerous enough
to catch their attention and establish, as it were,
an atmosphere of industry in the place_.
There are instances in which it would be
to the mutual interest of employer and employee
to increase the speed of work, but conditions
may limit or forbid the use of pacemakers.
In construction work and in some
of the industries where there are minute subdivision
of operations and continuity of processes
this method of increasing efficiency is
very commonly applied. In many factories,
however, such an effort to ``speed up'' production
might stir resentment, even among the
pieceworkers, and have an effect exactly opposite
to that desired. The alternative, of
course, is for the employer to secure unconscious
pacemakers by providing incentives
for the naturally ambitious men in the way of
a premium or bonus system or other reward
for unusual efficiency.
To take advantage of their conscious or
voluntary imitation, workpeople must be
provided with examples which appeal to them
as admirable and inspire the wish to emulate
them. A common application of this principle
is seen in the choice of department heads,
foremen, and other bosses. Invariably these
win promotion by industry, skill, and efficiency
greater than that displayed by their fellows,
or by all-round mastery of their trades which
enable them to show their less efficient mates
how any and all operations should be conducted.
This focusing of attention upon individuals
worthy of imitation has been carried much
farther by various companies. Through their
``house organs''--weekly or monthly papers
published primarily for circulation within the
organization--they make record of every
incident reflecting unusual skill, initiative, or
personal power in an individual member of
A big order closed, a difficult contract
secured, a complex or delicate operation performed
in less than the usual time, a new personal
record in production, the invention of
an unproved method or machine--whatever
the achievement, it is described and glorified,
its author praised and held up for emulation.
This, indeed, is one of the methods by which
the larger sales organizations have obtained
_Graphically told, the story of an important
sale with the salesman's picture alongside makes
double use of the instinct of imitation. It
suggests forcibly that every man in the field can
duplicate the achievement and tells how he can
Frequently, examples of initiative and efficiency
are borrowed from outside organizations.
``Carrying a message to Garcia'' has
long been a business synonym for immediate
and effective execution of orders. One big
company, employing thousands of mechanics
and developing all its executives and skilled
experts from boys and men within the or-
ganization, has printed in its house organ
studies of all the great American and English
inventors from Stephenson and Fulton to
Edison and Westinghouse. These histories
emphasize the facts that these men were self-
taught and bench-trained, and that their
achievements can be imitated by every intelligent
mechanic in the organization.
_In teaching and learning by imitation certain
modifying facts are to be kept constantly in mind.
We tend to imitate everything which catches our
attention, but certain things appeal more powerfully
The acts of those whom I admire are particularly
contagious, but I remain indifferent
to the acts of those who are uninteresting.
Acts showing a skill to which I aspire are
immediately imitated, while acts representing
stages of development from which I have escaped
are less likely to be imitated. We imitate
the acts of hearty, jovial individuals more
than the acts of others. This point cannot
be pressed too far since a surly and selfish
individual often seems to corrupt a whole
group. Also it is not always the acts which
I admire that are imitated. If I am frequently
with a lame person, I am in danger
of acquiring a limp; one who stutters is
clearly injurious to my freedom of speech;
round-shouldered friends may at first cause
me to straighten up, but soon I am in danger
of a droop.
That imitation is merely something to be
avoided by teachers, employers, and foremen
is an idea soon banished when the importance
and complexity of the process is comprehended.
In teaching we find precept inferior
to example wherever the latter is possible.
Particularly in teaching all sorts of
acts of skill the imitation of perfect models
is the first resort. In business, however,
insufficient consideration has been given to the
possibilities of imitation in increasing human
_In the preparation of this article representative
business men who had been especially successful
in dealing with employees were asked
the following questions_:--
In increasing the efficiency of your employees
do you utilize imitation by
(1) placing efficient workmen where they
may be imitated by the less efficient?
(2) having the men visit highly efficient
(3) bringing to the attention of your men
the lives of successful men and the work of
(4) bringing frequently to the attention of
the men model methods of work?
(5) Have you observed any pronounced
instance of increase or decrease in the work
of a department due to imitation?
The men interviewed took a decided interest
in the subject, and their answers
contained much of general value. Some admitted
that they had never made any conscious
effort to utilize imitation as implied
in the first four questions. Many others
had made particular use of one or more of
the methods. A few of the firms interviewed
had employed all four methods with entire
The following is a fair representative of
the answers. It is the response of a very
successful general manager of a railroad:--
``I beg to give you below the answer to
the questions which you have asked:--
``1. The superintendent and foremen in
our shops are the most efficient we can find.
They are imitated, and thus influence the less
``2. We have the heads of our departments
visit other shops to see how they are progressing
in the same line. If they notice anything
that is better than what we have as to the
output of work, we imitate it by following
``3. We have not made a practice of bringing
to the attention of our employees the lives
of successful men or the work of successful
``4. We keep standard models of the different
kinds of work in plain view of the men. If
there is any doubt in their minds, they can
study these models.
``5. We have observed a pronounced in-
crease in the work of our shops, due to imitation,
since in lining up our organization we
put the most competent men we have at the
head. Their influence over the men in their
charge increases the work, as there is no
question that a good leader is imitated by
the men, and the company is benefited by
_Judged by the results of the investigation the
most common use of imitation is in the training
or ``breaking in'' of new employees. The
accepted plan is to pick out the most expert and
intelligent workman available and put the new
man in his charge_.
By observing the veteran and imitating his
actions, working gradually from the simpler
operations to the more complex, the beginner
is able to master technic and methods in the
shortest possible time. The psychological
moment for such instruction, of course, is the
first day or the first week. New men learn
much more readily than those who have become
habituated to certain methods or tasks;
not having had time or opportunity to experi-
ment and learn wrong methods, they have
nothing to unlearn in acquiring the right.
They fall into line at once and adopt the stride
and the manner of work approved by the
This is the specific process by which the
most advanced industrial organizations develop
machine hands and initiate skilled mechanics
into house methods and requirements.
It has been largely used by public service
corporations--street-car motormen and conductors,
for instance, learning their duties
almost entirely by observation of experienced
men either in formal schools or on cars in
actual operation. Many large commercial
houses give new employees regular courses in
company methods before intrusting work to
them; the instructor is some highly efficient
specialist, who shows the beginner _*how_ to get
output and quality with the least expenditure
of time and energy. The same method has
been adapted by leading manufacturers of
machines, who call their mechanics or assemblers
together at intervals and have the most
expert among them show how they conduct
operations in which they have attained special
_In the training of salesmen imitation has
received its widest application in teaching new
men the elements of salesmanship; in showing
them how to make the individual sale; in giving
old men the best and newest methods--all by
Not only is the recruit to the selling ranks
in formal schools given repeated examples of
the most effective ways to approach customers,
to demonstrate the house goods and secure the
order; but the more progressive companies,
after this preliminary instruction, assign him
to a training ground where he accompanies
one of the company's best salesmen and
merely observes how actual sales are made.
Then the new man is sent out alone; usually
he fails to secure as large an order as the
house wants. Again the star salesman takes
him in hand, analyzes the student's approach
and demonstration, points out their weaknesses
and, going back with the new man,
makes the right kind of approach and secures
a satisfactory order. For the beginner this is
the most vivid lesson in salesmanship; he
cannot but model his next selling effort on the
lines proved so effective.
The use of imitation, however, is carried
further. In the monthly or semiannual district
conventions of salesmen which most big
organizations call, the newest and most effective
selling methods are staged for the
instruction both of new men and veterans.
The district leader in sales, for example, or
the man who has closed an order by a new or
unusual argument is pitted against a salesman
equally able, and the whole force sees
how the successful man secured his results.
_Educational trips to other factories were
employed by several firms to stimulate mental
alertness and the instinct of imitation in their
men. These trips usually supplemented some
sort of suggestion system for encouraging employees
to submit to the management ideas for
improving methods, machines, or products_.
Cash payments were made for each suggestion
adopted, quarterly prizes of ten to fifty dollars
were awarded for the most valuable suggestions;
and finally a dozen or a score of the
men submitting the best ideas were sent on a
week's tour of observation to other industrial
centers and notable plants. In some instances
the expense incurred was considerable, but the
companies considered the money well spent.
Not only were the men making helpful suggestions
the very ones who would observe
most wisely and profit most extensively from
such educational trips, but they would bring
back to their everyday tasks a new perspective,
see them from a new angle, and frequently
offer new suggestions which would
more than save or earn the vacation cost.
Business managers, it was made plain, are
coming more and more to depend upon imitation
as one of the great forces in securing
a maximum of efficiency without risking the
rupture or rebellion which might follow if the
same efficiency were sought by force or by
any method of conscious compulsion. Tactfully
suggested, the examples for imitation will
lead men where no amount of argument or
reasonable compensation will drive them. I
am therefore led to suggest the following uses
of imitation for increasing the efficiency of the
In breaking in new recruits they should
be set to imitate expert workmen in all the
Gang foremen and superintendents should
always be capable of ``showing how'' for the
sake of the men under them.
The better workmen should, where possible,
be located so that they will be observed
by the other employees.
Inefficient help should be avoided since the
example of the less efficient should become the
model for the larger group.
Educational trips or tours of inspection
should be regularly encouraged for both
workmen and superintendents.
The deeds of successful houses should be
brought to the attention of employees.
Where conditions admit, pacemakers should
be retained in various groups to key up the
Favorable conditions should be provided
for conscious and instinctive imitation for all
the members of the plant.
Persons who are sociable and much liked
are imitated more than others, and if efficient,
are particularly valuable; but if inefficient,
are especially detrimental to others.
At the formal and informal meetings of the
men of a house or a department, demonstrations
of how to do certain definite things are
very interesting and helpful to all concerned.
Demonstrations should be more common.
AS A MEANS OF INCREASING HUMAN
THIRTY years ago American steel
makers were astonishing the world
with new production records. What
English ironmasters, intrenched in their
supremacy for centuries, had regarded as a
standard week's output for Bessemer converters,
their young rivals in mills about the
Great Lakes were doubling, trebling, and even
further increasing. Hardly a month passed
without a new high mark and a shift in possession
of the leadership.
To this remarkable increase in efficiency
William R. Jones--``Captain Bill'' Jones as
he was familiarly known--contributed more
than any other operating man. He was a
genius among executives as well as an inventor
of resource and initiative--a natural leader
and handler of men. When he was asked by
the British Iron and Steel Institute in 1881,
to explain the reasons for the amazing development
in the United States, he attributed it to
organization spirit of the workmen and the
rivalry among the various mills.
``So long as the record made by a mill
stands first,'' he wrote, ``its workmen are
content to labor at a moderate rate. But let
it be known that some other establishment
has beaten that record and there is no content
until the rival's record is eclipsed.''
_It was on this idea of competition for
efficiency--of production as a game and achievement
as a goal--that the wonderful growth of
the steel industry was based_.
On the intensive development of this idea
by Andrew Carnegie, within his expanding
organization, hinged the tremendous progress
and profits of the Carnegie Company. ``The
little boss'' matched furnace against furnace,
mill against mill, superintendent against
superintendent. He scanned his weekly and
monthly reports not merely for records of
output, but for comparative consumption of
ore, fuel, and other supplies, for time and labor
costs in proportion to product.
If a superintendent, foreman, or gang failed
to respond to this urging, failed to get into
the race for the famous broom which crowned
the stack of the champion Carnegie mill or
furnace, the parallel showing of the other mills
became a club to drive the laggards into line.
So intense was the competition, so sharp the
verbal goads applied that Jones, after resigning
in indignation, parodied in sarcastic
notes in this manner the Carnegie fashion of
bringing executives to task: ``Puppy dog
number three, you have been beaten by puppy
dog number two on fuel. Puppy dog number
two, you are higher on labor than puppy
dog number one.''
How effective was this system of pitting
man against man, plant against plant, was
shown by the dominant position of the Carnegie
Company in the trade when the Steel
Corporation was launched and by the stag-
gering value put upon its business. Indirect
testimony of the same fact was given another
time by Jones when he refused thousands of
dollars in yearly royalties for the use of his
inventions by outside companies, this though
the men who sought them were personal friends
and his contract with the Carnegie Company
allowed such licenses. His excuse was eloquent
of the power residing in the Carnegie
contest for efficiency and results: leadership
for his charge, the Edgar Thompson works, in
output and costs, meant more to him than
money and a chance to help his friends.
_The Carnegie system was one of the most
comprehensive applications in business of man's
instinct of competition to the work of increasing
individual and organization efficiency_.
In the handling of executives it was carried
to such extremes as few great managers would
approve to-day. Undeniably, however, the
contest idea was an important influence in the
building up of a vast business in relatively brief
time, while the influence on the pace of the
whole industry gave the United States its
present supremacy in steel and iron. It survives
in the parallel comparisons of records
with which the Steel Corporation measures
the efficiency of its units of production and
keeps its mill superintendents to the mark.
It is utilized, in some degree and in varying
departments, by hundreds of successful houses.
Let us analyze the facts, the habits of
thought, the emotions behind competition and
determine where and how it may be applied
to the task of increasing our own and our
The experienced horseman knows that a
horse is unable to attain his greatest speed
apart from a pacemaker. The horse needs the
stimulus of an equal to get under way quickly,
to strike his fastest gait and to keep it up.
In this particular an athlete in sprinting is like
the horse. He is unable by sheer force of will
to run a hundred yards in ten seconds. To
achieve it he needs a competitor who will push
him to his utmost effort.
_The struggle for existence, one of the main
factors in the evolution of man, has raged most_
_fiercely among equals; without it, development
scarcely would have been possible_.
So fundamental has been this struggle
that the necessity for it has become firmly
established within us. We require it to stimulate
us to attain our highest ends.
As is made evident by a consideration of
imitation we are eminently social creatures.
We imitate the acts of those about us. Imitation
is, however, only the first stage of our
social relationship. We first imitate and then
compete. I purchase an automobile in imitation
of the acts of my friends, but I compete
with them by securing a more powerful or
swifter car. By erecting a new building because
some other banker has done so, the
second individual does more than imitate.
He competes with the first by planning to
erect a more magnificent structure and on a
more commanding site. Or a great retail
store, announcing a ``February sale'' of ``white
goods'' or furniture, invariably tries to surpass
the bargains offered by rival establishments.
We do indeed imitate and compete with all
our associates, but those whom we recognize
as our peers are the ones who stimulate
us more to the instinctive acts of imitation and
_Our actual equals stimulate us less than those
whom we recognize as the peers of our ideal
selves--of ourselves as we strive and intend to
become. The man on the ladder just above me
stirs me irresistibly_.
The effect of one individual upon others,
then, is not confined to imitation. There is
a constant tendency to vary from and to excel
the model. My devotion to golf is mainly due
to he example of some of my friends. My
ambition is to outplay these same friends.
Imitation and competition, apparently antagonistic,
are in reality the two expressions
for our social relationships. We first imitate
and then attempt to differentiate ourselves
from our companions.
The manufacturer or merchant imitates his
competitor, but tries also to surpass him.
Indeed it is a truism that competition is the
life of trade. In the shop and in the office,
on the road and behind the counter, in all
buying and selling, competition is essential
to the greatest success. Competition, the
desire to excel, is universal and instinctive.
It gives a zest to our work that would otherwise
be lacking. In every sphere of human
activity competition seems essential for securing
the best results.
_We assume ordinarily that competition exists
only between individuals. As a matter of fact,
a slight degree of competition may be aroused
between a man's present efforts and his previous
While not so tense or so compelling as is
competition between individuals, it has the
advantage of avoiding the creation of jealousies.
In all the more exciting and stimulating
games, rivalry between individuals is a
prominent feature. In golf the game is frequently
played without this factor, the only
competition being with previous records or
with the mythical Bogy.
Such competition adds considerable zest
to the game, and the same principle is applicable
to business. The most compelling rivalry
is between peers; without this, however,
it is possible to pit the possibilities of the
present month against the achievements of
the previous four weeks or the past year or
even against a hypothetical individual ``bogy.''
This bogy may be fixed by the executive, and
the man induced to compete with it. Thus
the dangers of competition may be minimized
and the advantages of the human instinctive
desire for competition be gained.
In the average well-organized business the
carrying out of such a plan would not be difficult.
Studying the previous records of his
men, a manager or foreman could determine
what each individual bogy should be. The
employee should know just what the _*record
is_ that he is competing with, and that his
success or failure would be recorded to his
credit or otherwise. Above all, the bogy
must be fair and within the power of the man
_Competition need not be confined to individuals._
_Frequently one city finds a stimulus in competing
with another. Nations compete with one another.
In any organization one section may compete
In an army there may be competition between
regiments. Within the regiment there
may be the keenest rivalry between the different
companies. We are such social creatures
that we easily identify ourselves with our
block, our street, our town, our social set, our
party, our firm, or our department in the firm.
Like teams in any game or sport, these groups
may be rendered self-conscious and thus made
units for competition.
It is possible to create such units for
competition in business organizations. In some
instances individual employees of one firm
are pitted against those of a competing firm,
the contest proving stimulating to the men in
both. In other instances the competition is
restricted to the house, and similar departments
or sections are the units.
The closer the parallel between the units
and their activities, as in the Carnegie blast
furnaces and steel mills, the more interesting
and effective the competition becomes.
This principle has received widest recognition
and achieved greatest success in the
sales department. Here individuals are on
a footing of approximate equality or may be
given equality by a system of handicaps based
on conditions in their territories. Success
has also attended the pitting of selling districts
against each other. These larger competing
units work against bogies of the same
character as do the individual ones. The whole
house may be keyed up to surpass previous
records or to attain some fixed standard.
To ascertain to what extent the principle
of competition was consciously employed by
business firms and what methods were used
to apply it in increasing the efficiency of the
men, a number of successful business firms
were asked the following questions:--
_How do you utilize competition in increasing
efficiency among your employees?_
(1) Do you regard it as unwise to stimulate
competition in any form?
(2) Do you encourage men to excel their
own records of previous years?
(3) Do you encourage competition between
men in the same department?
(4) Do you encourage competition between
your own departments?
(5) Do you encourage competition with
departments of competing establishments?
(6) In competition do you make it fair
by ``handicapping'' your men?
_What reward does the winner receive, e.g_.:--
(1) Monetary reward?
(3) Public commendation?
_In answers by equally successful managers
great diversity of opinion prevailed. Some
men were afraid of all forms of competition_.
They believed that co
to success and that any form of competition
among the men tended to lessen such
believed that competition when wisely handled
is very effective in stimulating the men.
Of course, most firms try in some way to
encourage their men to excel their record of
previous years. The inquiry developed, however,
that a few are unwilling to employ competition
even in this mild form as a means to
increased efficiency. Most of the firms made
conscious use of this principle and were convinced
of its potency.
Competition between men in the same
department was approved by a majority of the
firms, and its adaptability to the selling
department was especially emphasized. But
some of the best houses will permit no such
competition. The diversity in opinion was
very pronounced in answering this question.
As to encouraging competition between departments
in the same firm, no general answer
is satisfactory. Organizations differ widely.
In many houses such competition is not practicable;
in others it certainly is not to be encouraged.
In many organizations which would
admit of such competition the experiment had
not been tried. In others it has become a
regular practice and is looked upon with favor.
In competition between members of the
same department or between departments the
danger of jealousy and enmity seems to be so
real that the greatest caution has to be
observed in managing the contests. When
such caution is exercised, the results are
ordinarily reported upon favorably.
As to encouraging competition with departments
of rival establishments, the diversity
of business makes general statements un-
illuminating. Even where such a course is
possible, some managers reject the practice
as unwise. They believe that it is not best
to recognize other houses or to consider them
in this particular. A few firms report that
they are able to stimulate their men successfully
in this way, even though the conditions for
such a contest are difficult to handle. Of those
who utilize competition a few houses employ
no handicaps to put their men on the same
level and make success equally possible to all.
_The principle of handicaps is so manifestly
fair that organizers of contests can hardly afford
to neglect this essential to the widest interest and
participation in the competition_.
If the little man in a country territory
doesn't feel that he has a fighting chance to
equal or surpass the man in the big agency,
he makes no attempt to qualify. And the
purpose of every contest, of course, is to get
every man into the game.
Touching monetary rewards for the winners,
there is practical unanimity of opinion.
The winner should receive a prize in cash or
its equivalent. Usually the effort is to distribute
the prizes so that all who excel their
average records receive compensation and
recognition for the additional work. In many
instances unusual increases in sales or output
are rewarded by a higher rate of compensation.
_That success in contests should influence
promotion was generally agreed. The knowledge
and energy shown are indications of capacity to
occupy a better position_.
The contest merely reveals such capacity;
the promotion might well follow as part of the
prize for the winner or winners.
Public commendation of winners in com-
petitions is held by many firms to be bad
policy. There is fear that such commendation
might render the participant conceited
and unfit for further usefulness. A majority
of firms, however, give the widest possible
publicity to such commendation. This, indeed,
is the reward most generally used and
apparently most keenly desired by employees.
Reproduction of photographs of the winners
in the house organ with an account of their
achievements is the commonest acknowledgment
of their success, though posting the
names of the winners in various parts of the
establishment is the method employed by
_Many important houses use competition as
part of their regular equipment for handling
and energizing men_.
Particularly is this true of manufacturers
and distributors of specialties, patented machines,
trade-marked goods and lines, and
wholesalers whose travelers are selling in
territories where conditions are generally the
same. Several firms of this sort make con-
scious and elaborate use of the instinct of
competition in their ordinary scheme of management.
A concrete and typical illustration of its
application to selling is afforded by the
experience and the undoubted success of one
of the largest specialty houses which distributes
its products direct to the consumer.
The sales force numbers about 500 men, and
executives of wide experience declare that the
organization is, of its size, the most efficient
in the United States. Analysis of this company's
methods is most illuminating and suggestive
because every phase of the instinct
of competition has been exploited to the
advantage of both the house and its employees.
The medium of competition is a series of
contests--monthly, quarterly, even yearly which
bring into play all the motives urging
individuals to maximum effort and industry desire
to beat bogy, ambition to win in individual
contest with immediate neighbors and
against the whole organization, team spirit in
the matching of one group of agencies against
another group, and finally organization spirit
in the battle of the whole force to equal or
surpass the mark which has been set for it.
_The first and basic contest here is that of the
individual salesman against his bogy or ``sales
This quota, the monthly amount of business
which each agency should produce, has
been worked out with great care and has a
scientific foundation. Since the great bulk
of sales are made to retail merchants, the
possibilities of each territory are determined
by reckoning the total population of all towns
containing three retailers rated by commercial
agencies. For normal months there is a standard
quota, a little above the monthly average
of all agencies the previous year, reckoned
against their total urban populations. In
``rush'' months, this quota is advanced from
fifteen to forty per cent, as the judgment of the
sales manager dictates. If general and trade
conditions lead him to believe, for instance,
that the month of May should produce
$1,000,000 in orders, while the sum of the
usual quotas is $800,000, he calls for an over-
plus of twenty per cent. The territory containing
one per cent of the total urban population
of the country, as reckoned, would then be
expected to make sales equal to $10,000. This
would be the agency quota for the month,
and the first and most important task of the
agent would be to secure it.
_Because all quotas, both normal and special,
are figured on the productive population of the
territories and standings may be calculated by
percentages, it follows that all agents are on terms
This is essential in a contest for individual
leadership as well as in team or organization
matches. For at least eight months of the
year, there is such a competition for the best
selling record in the entire force. Variety
is given to these contests and the interest of
the men sustained by changing the terms of
the competition. One month the chief prize
will be given to the salesman who secures his
quota at the earliest date; next month the
award will be for the individual who first obtains
a fixed sum in orders, usually $2500;
leadership the third month will go to the man
who gets the highest per cent of his quota
during the entire period; again, the honor will
fall to the agent whose net sales total the
greatest for the month.
_Further changes are rung and the inspirational
effect of the contest immensely increased by enlarging
the conditions so that every third or
fourth agent is able to qualify for the month's
honors and a prize_.
Here, for instance, besides the prize for
the first agent selling $2500, there will be
prizes--like hats, umbrellas, and so on--for
every man who closes $2500 in orders before
the twentieth of the month, with the attendant
publicity of having his portrait and his record
printed in the house organ which goes to
every agent in the field and every department
and executive at the factory. Before leaving
the individual contests, mention should be
made of the ``star'' club of agents who sell
$30,000 or more during the year; the presi-
dency going to the agent who first secures
that total, the other official positions falling
to his nearest rivals in the order in which
The team and organization contests are
usually carried on simultaneously with the
individual competitions. These range from
matches between the forces of the big city
offices, like New York, Chicago, and St. Louis,
upward to district contests in which each team
represents from thirty to fifty salesmen and
finally to international ``wars'' where the
American organization is pitted against all
the agents abroad. Challenges from one
district to another usually precipitate the
district competitions; once a year there is a
three months' general contest in which all the
districts take part for the championship of the
whole selling force.
_To announce contests is a simple matter;
to organize and execute them so that they are of
benefit is much more difficult_.
Unless the interest of the men is focused on
the contests, they are not worth while. To
make them successful the firm under consideration
utilized the following devices:--
During the contest the house organ appeared
often and was devoted almost exclusively
to the contest. In it the record of
each salesman was printed, his quota, his
sales to date, and other pertinent information.
The sheet was edited by a ``sporting editor,''
and great tact and skill were displayed in giving
the contest the atmosphere of an actual
race or game. In addition the sales manager,
the district managers, and the house executives
wrote letters and telegrams of encouragement,
and even made trips to the agencies that got
under way too slowly.
The unique feature of the contest was the
manner in which the ``sporting editor'' gave
actuality to the contests by pictorial
representations. One competition took the form
of a shooting match. The house organ contained
an enormous target with two rings
and a bull's eye. When a salesman qualified
with orders for $625, he was credited with a
shot inside the outer ring and his name was
printed there. With $1250 in sales, he moved
into the inner ring, and when his orders
amounted to $2500, he was credited with a
bull's eye and his name blazoned in the center
Another contest was represented as a balloon
race between the different districts.
Each district was given a balloon, and as sales
increased, the airship mounted higher. On
the balloon the name of the district leader in
sales was printed, while cartoons enlivened
the race by showing the expedients, in terms
of orders, by which the district managers and
their crews sought to drive their airships
higher. Each issue of the house organ showed
the current standing of the districts by the
heights of their balloons. This conception of
the selling contest was very successful.
``Going up--going up--how far are you up
now?'' was used as a call, and it seemed to
strike the men and inspire them. It became
the greeting of the salesmen when they met, and
irresistibly produced a feeling of competition and
a desire to have the district balloon go higher.
Other ingenious fancies by which the contests
were given the appeal and interest of
popular sports was their conception as a baseball
game, a football game, an automobile
race, a Marathon run, and so on.
In providing prizes, the firm was rather
generous, though the expense was never great.
While the contest was in progress, all those
who were really ``in the running'' had the
satisfaction of honorable mention, with their