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July 1945


Probably the most vulgar ambition of humanity is the wielding of authority without responsibility, while the most common failing of organisation is the allocation of responsibility without the appropriate delegation of authority.

The second is a frequent consequence of the first which often manifests itself, in the unfortunate personalities that it infests, as tyranny, brutality and delusions of grandeur. Out of it has arisen the most abominable concept in history, that of the master race.

Closely associated phenomena are self importance and that insane desire to be right which prevents many otherwise quite rational people from ever admitting that they have made a mistake or that their sources of information are fallible. Other allied manifestations of faulty and unrealistic attitudes of mind which betray immature mentalities consist in emotional reactions to the institution of routines, to the maintenance of essential records, and to the issuing of orders essential to the normal carrying on of business.

There is a type of bright individualist who sees in "red tape and all the appurtenances of a low class bureaucracy", a common cockshy at whose expense the sluggish wits of his more callow contemporaries can be stirred to simian sallies designed to show how much they are superior to the bulk of their fellows. From here it is only a short cut back to the creed of domination by a master race, and thence, by a common device of rhetoric, to its antithesis.

The concept of service is not only the oldest, but also the latest contribution to the basic activities out of which live and effective organisations are built. It involves in every individual a very broad acceptance of responsibility for the success of all projects with which he (or she) is in any way concerned.

It demands that authority derives directly from responsibility and from no other source. This is indeed almost a measure of democracy, and among free people tends to arrive automatically. Under such conditions responsibility and authority are always combined in proper proportions.

Service is not the prerogative of any one level in the organisation, nor is it a vector quantity: the higher must serve the lower as faithfully as the lower must serve the higher, each in their appropriate function.

The proper rendering of service leaves no loose ends untied, no responsible person unconsulted or unadvised, and no action untaken or undelegated.

Appreciations of the functions of service makes people understand the mechanisms and routines which are the bugbear of the uninitiated.

Understanding of the principles of service enables the spirit of all requirements to be fulfilled instead of merely the letter: in rendering service, action is taken as far as is necessary and not merely as far as specified or requested. This may be illustrated by an example of the work of the American Telegraph and Telephone Company who have developed a very high level of morale built round the notion of service. The following story was told to the writer by a passenger on a transatlantic boat who had no connection with the A.T.&T. Names and places have been substituted for those which have been forgotten.

One evening when in Chicago he put through a call to a Mr. Buggins of the Western Union Roller Mills at Detroit who was visiting the Associated Cement Manufacturers at Illinois. After a couple of hours the exchange girl came through and said, "I've fixed your call. The man you want to see is not Mr. Buggins, it's Mr. Jameson, he's not at Illinois, he's at San Francisco, he doesn't belong to the Western Union Roller Mills of Detroit, but is a director of the Universal Stamping Machines at Camden, and the call will be through at 8 o'clock in the morning. And it was.

Anyone who experienced the spirit pervading this organisation at that time will realise how such a happening could come about. The business of rendering service was made a game which was played enthusiastically; there was no keeping of accounts, but there was definitely a somewhat childish and completely delightful pleasure in going to almost extravagant lengths to help people. A success was a definite score in a never ending game.

It will be recognised from the above brief presentation of certain attributes of service that it fulfills simultaneously the mutually somewhat anomalous functions of motive power, prime mover, connecting rod and lubricant. It provides gears and wheels and lays the track, Finally it cleans up the track after the machine has gone its way.

The strangest thing about service, when practised in the proper light, is that it has no relation to servitude. It's just fun.

At the present time, when so much is in the melting pot, when people are turning over to new jobs, when old jobs have to be cleared up and many tedious tasks of tidying up have to be done, and when new projects have to be started which may not see service for many years (it is hoped), it is inevitable that there should be a general healthy reaction of a complicated kind. In so far as this is merely the con-comitant of relaxation after a period of strain, it is a good thing; to the extent that it makes people feel a lack of direction and a personal aimlessness it is not so good, although this too is quite a normal response.

It is a matter of ancient knowledge that under such circumstances the erection of a fetish as a focus of attention has an almost astringent effect on the psyche giving it self confidence and purpose. The erection of the fetish of service is an interesting experiment in self discipline which anyone can try for themselves, anywhere and at any time.

Please note: the original of this document is typewritten. I OCRd the whole of the document to produce a text file and then used that to create these web pages. In the original document there are references to page numbers - to the best of my knowledge I have linked these to the correct page. You may find errors in the OCRing and also in the original document for which my apologies - I corrected quite a lot of typos in the original. There are lots of Greek symbols in some places, hopefully I have found all these, along with the integrals and square roots. 
Colin Hinson.

THE DESIGN OF RADAR TRAINER.............................. G.W.A. Dummer

THE DEVELOPMENT OF CENTIMETRE AI......................W.E. Burcham


............... G. Bradfield B.Sc.

FISHPOND ...............................................................................H. Minckley

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Page last updated on the 15th February 2018 by Colin Hinson.