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THE DECLINE OF CRAFTSMANSHIP

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 20, 2013

BRYCE ON WORK ETHIC

- They are getting harder and harder to find.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I happened to visit my brother-in-law in Cincinnati not long ago. He is a master machinist in a machine-tool company up there. He gave me a tour of his company and it was interesting to see how he can take a block of aluminum and transform it into a high-precision instrument. He patiently explained the whole process to me and described the details for making such an instrument. His knowledge of the overall process along with the tools he used was very impressive. More importantly, he expressed his pride in his company and the products they produced. This was all very refreshing to me as you don’t hear too many people anymore who take pride in their work and know it thoroughly.

I think you can trace the decline of craftsmanship back to the 1980’s when the bean counters started slashing costs and programs aimed at the production of quality products. Fortunately, this didn’t happen at my brother-in-law’s company which is privately owned by a German immigrant who is also a craftsman and invests heavily in his people and research and development. The consciousness of the people in the plant is such that if the product isn’t just right, it is done over again. Interestingly, the company doesn’t have any problems in terms of morale, tardiness, or absenteeism. The older workers mentor the younger workers, and the employees in general relate to their work. In other words, management has created an environment of cooperation as opposed to competition, thereby allowing workers to focus on their work and take personal initiative to solve problems themselves. By doing so, the workers have been able to marry their personal and professional lives.

I found this all somewhat eerie and I felt I had been transported back in time to another era where workers were dedicated craftsman and genuinely cared about their work. We don’t see a lot of craftsmanship any more, particularly in I.T. departments who prefer “quick and dirty” solutions these days. I shouldn’t single out I.T. departments though as they are not alone in this regards. Just about everywhere you go, you don’t find too many people who understand the total process of building something and sweat over the details. Most people simply don’t care and disassociate their personal lives from their professional lives, …which I find rather sad.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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6 Responses to “THE DECLINE OF CRAFTSMANSHIP”

  1. Alton Walston said

    Ah Brother Tim, Again you have pulled strings dear to my heart. “Craftsmanship” a word that if we don’t take precautions will soon be obsolete. As a wee boy, I started out in model building with Strombecker Kits. These were crude blocks of wood with a 3 view instructions, My first attempts to make something look like the picture on the box was less then satisfying, however my dad bought me more wood and taught some of the finer details of the art and I got better. To the best of my knowledge, I never did get my dad to approve one of my “Carved models” as a good one, he would praise my efforts buts not the products. Then as I got older and built different kits applying the same logic to the work as I did to the carved models they got much better. I believe my dad passed away before he ever got to see one of my “better” models. What he did teach me was craftsmanship and the value of “Good Craftsmanship” One of the first things I remember he taught was a poem that governed all projects from the day I learned it. “In the elder days of art, the builders wrought with Greatest care, each minute and unseen part For God see everywhere”

    {Longfellow} I was taught that in making a part, or project, that if I found a flaw in it before, during or after the completion, I threw it away and started again until I got it right. I still work that way. I taught my son an daughter the same thing and am proud to say they also follow in “pops”footsteps. Both are craftsman in their own right.

    I remember through school, hear the teacher say “Do it the best you can and that is good enough.” but that is not really true. For some folks simply say that is the best I can do and never strive for good and true work. they use the phrase to get them by.

    Now you know why I love to teach the kids to build models. I actually get the chance to turn them into craftsman.

    Attached are photos of my latest project, A year long restoration project of an 36% Edge 540 model

    Cheers ole Blake

    ________________________________

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  2. Brother Tim,
    As I read your article I could not help but think that using your brother’s company’s work ethic in Masonry would be a good thing. The story could be visiting a Master Mason in a lodge where they take pride in crafting a man into a Mason. As you know this type of focus is not present in many lodges today and wouldn’t it be great if all lodges were, as you stated, ” where workers were dedicated craftsman and genuinely cared about their work.”

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    • Tim Bryce said

      Brother Mike –
      Yes, I agree. The problem though is the perception of what Freemasonry. If it is nothing more than a club or a stepping stone to the Shrine, it will not work. But if Masons think of it in its proper context, for what it truly is, then Yes it can work.
      All the Best,
      Tim

      Like

  3. sirchristiantheheck@reagan.com said

    “Right as rain” and TOO damn true.

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