The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 1 (May 1, 1928)
In this article I am going to forego personal observations and quote from another writer. The following, by Chas. E. Carpenter, President of the Houghton organisation, is as good as gold. He says:—
“Originally the blacksmith, the shoemaker, the harnessmaker and the wagon-maker was an individual by himself. He did not have to cooperate with anyone. He had the delightful opportunity of conducting his business and doing things as he wanted.
But the moment a ‘journeyman’ was taken on, then the journeyman had to co-operate with the boss and the boss had to co-operate with the journeyman, because the boss could discharge the journeyman and the journeyman could quit if things did not go to the liking of either. It was only the boss who could co-operate, who was competent to add additional journeymen, and only the journeyman who could co-operate who was able to advance to the position of the boss.
This very same principle has continued to prevail with the development of industry and, as it was in the beginning, so it is now, the keynote of success to every organisation.
It makes no matter how much you know; how efficient you are; how loyal you may be or how hard you are willing to work; if you do not co-operate, all of your other virtues are cancelled in the modern present-day business organisation.
And what does ‘co-operation’ mean?
It means ‘getting along with the other fellow.’
That is all it means.
The member of any business organisation who thinks he demonstrates his value to the organisation by spending his valuable time in proving that he is right and the other fellow wrong, has a wrong slant on the meaning of co-operation.
The pest of any business organisation is the chap who spends the company's money dictating long letters disputing with someone else. Dispute is not co-operation, but the opposite thereof.
We would not go so far as to endorse Andrew Carnegie's statement that ‘a co-operator wrong is worth more than a disorganiser right,’ but we will say that Carnegie was not entirely wrong in his estimate of both.
Carnegie once said that Charlie Schwab was the greatest co-operator with whom he was ever associated.
Mr. E. T. Beford, who is dear to the memories of the entire Houghton Organisation, said, in his recent article paying tribute to John D. Rockefeller, that Mr. Rockefeller's greatest asset was his ability to cooperate. Mr. Rockefeller has always been noted for his patience with his associates with whom he did not agree.
Littleness of character is always demonstrated by the ugliness of those who prove themselves right against those who are found to be in the wrong.
One day, when the Old Man was in conversation with a group of the executives, he was asked to what he attributed his advance from the position of office boy to that of President of the Company?
‘Being right as often as possible, and then being as charitable about it as possible. Avoiding, above everything, being disagreeably right.’
When one is right one can afford to be liberal if one has a big mind. To be right and then page 15 rub it in, is evidence of littleness of mind which spells for inefficiency.
If a business organisation could be made up of 100 per cent. of those who were always 100 per cent. right, that business organisation would soon control the business of the world. There would be no limit to its possibilities.
Fortunately, Nature has provided that no person can be right all the time, and thus the might of every human being is limited.
The great successes of the mighty business corporations have not been due to dishonesty as it is too often claimed. Big Business has succeeded solely and entirely because of co-operation. Questionable practice on the part of Big Business has been its liability and not its asset.
If you cannot co-operate you have no useful part in a business organisation and had better get out and go into some business where nothing but your own individual abilities count.
A good refreshment stand on the roadside requires no particular amount of co-operation. Or you might get a good news stand or a newspaper route. But don't ‘kid’ yourself into believing that you are going to get very far in a business organisation by disagreeing with everyone, and rubbing it in when, perchance, you happen to be right.”