In part this explains the migration of many industries to the smaller towns and the development of a new type of city factory with sound- proof walls and floors, windows sealed against noise, and a system of mechanical ventilation.

The individual manufacturer or merchant, therefore, need not wait for a general crusade to abate the noise, the smoke, and the other distractions which reduce his employee's effectiveness. In no small measure he can shut out external noises and eliminate many of those within. Loud dictation, conversations, clicking typewriters, loud-ringing telephones, can all be cut to a key which makes them virtually indistinguishable in an office of any size. More and more the big open office as

an absorbent of sound seems to be gaining in favor. In one of the newest and largest of these I know, nearly all the typewriting machines are segregated in a glass-walled room, and long-distance telephone messages can be taken at any instrument in the great office.

_Like sound in its imperative appeal for attention is the consciousness of strangers passing one's desk or windows_.

Movement of fellow employees about the department, unless excessive or unusual, is hardly noticed; let an individual or a group with whom we are not acquainted come within the field of our vision, and they claim attention immediately. For this reason shops or factories whose windows command a busy street find it profitable to use opaque glass to shut out the shifting scene.

This scheme of retreat and protection has been carried well-nigh to perfection by many executives. Private offices guarded by secretaries fortify them against distractions and unauthorized claims on their attention, both from within and without their organizations.

Routine problems, in administration, production, distribution, are never referred to them; these are settled by department heads, and only new or vital questions are submitted to the executive. In many large companies, besides the department heads and secretaries who assume this load of routine, there are assistants to the president and the general manager who further reduce the demands upon their chiefs. The value of time, the effect of interruptions and distractions upon their own efficiency, are understood by countless executives who neglect to guard their employees against similar distractions.

_Individual business men, unsupported by organizations, have worked out individual methods of self-protection_.

One man postpones consideration of questions of policy, selling conditions, and soon until the business of the day has been finished, and interruptions from customers or employees are improbable. Another, with his stenographer, reaches his office half an hour earlier than his organization, and, picking out the day's big

task, has it well towards accomplishment before the usual distractions begin. The foremost electrical and mechanical engineer in the country solves his most difficult and abstruse problems at home, at night. His organization provides a perfect defense against interruptions; but only in the silence, the isolation of his home at night, does he find the complete absence of distraction permitting the absolute concentration which produces great results.

This chapter was prefaced by an instance where protection from distractions through organization was joined with methodical attack on the elements of the day's work. This combination approaches the ideal; it is the system followed by nearly all the great executives of America. Time and attention are equably allotted to the various interests, the various departments of effort which must have the big man's consideration during the day. Analysis has determined how much of each is required; appointments are made with the men who must coperate; all other matters are pushed aside until a decision is reached;

and upon the completion of each attention is concentrated on the next task.

A striking instance of this organization of work and concentration upon a single problem is afforded by the ``cabinet meetings'' of some large corporations and the luncheons of groups of powerful financiers in New York.

Increasing Efficiency in Business Page 30

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