chapter  12
7 Pages

From competence to excellence

The early Industrial Revolution boosted the emergence of a new and finely fashioned language of work. Borrowing from the guilds, it was based on trades - trades which were given formal recognition and involved time-served apprenticeships. If that revolution had consolidated a set of unchanging basic work patterns, no further problem would have arisen. But industry moves on. New operations were born that could no longer fit into the old classification. It must have been an epoch-making event in industrial history when management first acknowledged that a few men knew the exact moment when a furnace was best tapped: they had developed valuable skills on their own account. In their own mysterious way, some workers managed to achieve output targets and quality, while bypassing whatever traditional teachings of apprenticeship were around.