Igniting The Competitive Spirit

June 20, 2011
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Dale Carnegie knew what it took to stimulate competition. Not in the sordid, money-getting way, but rather in the desire to excel.

Carnegie liked telling the story of Charles Schwab, who had a mill manager whose men weren’t producing their quota of work.

Schwab asked his manager, “How is it that a man as capable as you can’t make this mill turn out what it should?”

“I don’t know,” the man replied, “I’ve coaxed the men; I’ve pushed them; I’ve sworn and cussed; I’ve threatened them with damnation and being fired. But nothing works. They just won’t produce.”

Schwab happened to be talking to his manager at the end of the day, just before the night shift came on. He asked for a piece of chalk and then asked how many (parts) the shift had made that day. The man answered that the six parts had been produced.

Schwab then chalked a big figure six on the floor and walked away. When the night shift came in, they saw the “6” and asked what it meant. The daytime men told them that the big boss had come in and asked how many parts they made that day and that’s what the “6” represented.

The next morning Schwab walked through the mill and saw that the night shift had erased the number six and replaced it with a big number “7.” When the day-shift men saw that, they took it as a challenge. By the end of that day they had erased the night shift’s “7” and replaced it with a “10.”

And thus, the competition began between the day and night shifts to produce more parts than the other. Shortly this mill, that had been lagging way behind in production, was turning out more work than any other mill in the plant.

The principle of the story is that the way to get things done is to stimulate competition through the desire to excel. It is an infallible way of appealing to persons of spirit.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Indiana. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

Photo credit: renjith krishnan

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