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 industry.
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 examples.
_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 the organization.
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 remarkable results.