The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 5 (September 1, 1927)
Production Engineering — (Part XIV.) — Co-Operation of Committees
Much has been said about “Co-operation.” What is “Co-operation?”
Co-operation is the mutual agreement between individuals or parties to work together for the accomplishment of a given object, and the loyal carrying out of that agreement.
It happens, in the Workshops, that the two parties concerned in cooperation constitute a large number of individuals on each side. It is physically impossible to get into personal touch with everyone on both sides, so each body elects a small number to represent them, and thus we have a practical Committee.
The Committee system is good, because it ensures the combined thoughts and judgments of a number of men, as opposed to the possibility of one man's opinion-which might not be right-dominating.
You may not know, but in head office there are a number of committees operating with very definite objects. Co-operative they certainly are, in order that the best judgment possible may be obtained in the decisions required.
For instance, take the new Workshops scheme. We have a building committee, a machinery committee, and an electrical committee, each comprised of Railway officers concerned and experts from the Public Works Department. These committees, in their respective spheres, approve all specifications and analyse all tenders that are required as the scheme progresses. They certainly have been co-operative and have been productive of good results.
So it is nothing new.
Now, in our Workshops we have a number of problems wherein the interests of the men are vitally concerned. The Department could itself, without a doubt, deal with all these problems as they arise, but it might not deal with them as satisfactorily-to the men-as it could if the men co-operated with the management.
By reason of the establishment of these committees, the Department does not sidestep any of its responsibility in any connection; it merely asks for the co-operative action of the men, through the committee, in accomplishing certain aims and objects.
Through the committee, the management can explain what it wants and why it wants it. If the committee considers it good, they will support the move, and the “esprit de corps” of the shops will become something real.
For instance, if I sent an order to a Workshop Manager to build a certain structure and told him my estimate of the cost of doing it, and that-if we could do it for the price-it was intended to build such structures in our own shops in future instead of importing them from abroad, the Workshop Manager would explain the position to the committee.
Such an order being in accordance with the principle of building up our own industries, and thus equally sound from the viewpoints of both management and men, I would expect all hands to give the job the best “go” possible-in other words, to co-operate.
I do not want the Committee to be simply a “Complaint Department.” Its development should be mutually constructive and educative, and members representing both management and men are invited to bring forward any suggestions for the development of the service.
I set up as the ideal for these meetings “Honesty and frankness in all dealings,” and I am sure that if this is sincerely agreed to, a real means of co-operation will be established that will give big benefits to both sides.