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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 17. 19th July 1972

Re-Routing the Grind

Re-Routing the Grind

The companies which are introducing the concept include Ford. Chrysler, IBM and Philips Electrical. But job improvement has applications in other areas of industry. A very successful American businessman called Robert Townsend wrote a book called "Up the Organisation" which outlined how it could be implemented in ordinary business firms. Here are a few things he said:-.

"In the average company the boys in the mail room, the president, the vice-presidents, and the girls in the steno pool have three things in common: they are docile, they are bored, and they are dull. Trapped in the pigeonholes of organisational charts, they've been made slaves to the rules of private and public hierarchies that run mindlessly on and on because nobody can change them.... (we have got to) start dismantling our organisations where we're serving them, leaving only the parts where they are serving us."

The quality-of-life movement has its most popular expression at the present time in the environment band-waggon. We all know about it so I won't go into it. Except to say that I think the movement to control our present technologies is motivated by something more than the desire to lessen their damaging impact on our environment. People don't realise it, but man gets one of his most sublime satisfactions from mastering and beating not his fellow man — but technology. When I worked in Auckland I wrote several stories on acts of vandalism against cars. I actually saw a new car that vandals had worked on after the owner left it on the side of a country road one night. They jumped up and down on the roof and bonnet, kicked in the doors, smashed the windows, lights and grills, slashed the tyres, smashed the dashboard, ripped up the seats, and ripped out all the movable parts from the engine. When you see something like that you can't help feeling the causes go deeper than drunkenness and mindless antisocial behaviour. Why do we love watching movies of cars crashing against brick walls at 70 miles an hour? Why do crowds gather round a property where a building is being demolished? It's because we love seeing man take on technology—and win for once. Have you seen those photographs of New Yorkers walking along streets which have recently been closed to the traffic for a few hours each day? They all seem to have nervous smiles on their faces. They are getting a real kick out of it but they feel they are doing something wrong. These people are going through the first stages of liberation from technology, a certain rediscovery of self, and mastery of their own environment.

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