[Footnote text: A revision of material originally under title of
Human Factor in Works Management by James Hartness, published by
McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., New York.]
The navigator in preparing for a voyage carefully examines each of
his instruments. He must know the present error of his chronometer
and its rate of change, and its general reliability as indicated
by its past record. He must also know errors in his compasses for
each point, and he should have the fullest information regarding
the degree of reliability of every other means on which his
success depends; and, last but not least, he must accurately
determine his starting-point or point of departure.
In taking up the subject before us we will do well to follow his
In doing so, our task will be to examine two principal elements:
one, the means on which we depend for interpreting the information
that is available; and the other, the source and character of the
The means may be considered analogous to the navigator's
instruments, and is no less a thing than the brain or mental
machinery; and the information is simply the world about us as
seen in the existing things, such as machinery, methods, popular
notions, textbooks, etc., all of which may be classed as
environments, and may be considered as analogous to the charts and
other publications of our worthy example.
Like the mariner, we must determine the degree of reliability of
all these sources of information and our means for interpreting
When we have ascertained this we will know what allowance to make
from the "observed" to get the actual facts. With this knowledge
we will be able to accurately determine both our starting-point
and best course.
The importance of considering our own minds will be seen when we
realize that every new fact taken in must in a measure conform to
the previous ideas. If some of these old ideas are erroneous, the
mind must be more or less ready to discard them. It is very
difficult to dislodge deep-seated convictions. Contradictory ideas
are not assimilated. Only one of them is actually accepted. Even
when to the objective reasoning they seem false, they frequently
continue to control our actions.
Since we are loaded with the popular ideas which we have absorbed
from our environment, it will be well for us to begin by
critically examining our environment and the process by which
ideas have been taken in. This may enable us to put out some of
the erroneous views, and perhaps more firmly fix the true ideas;
thereby preparing the mind for a more ready acceptance of what
otherwise would be barred out as contradictory.
We shall not go deeply into the psychology of the subject, as it
will not be necessary to go contrary to or beyond the well-known
We shall not try to locate the man or refer to him as the ego or
inner man. We shall simply say that we know that we can use our
brains to think on any subject, and we can use our senses to
collect information regarding any chosen subject.
Our senses and mental faculties can be directed to consider one
element in a business, and for the moment be unmindful of the many
other elements. In other words, we can to a certain extent manage
our mental processes. Just as a horse can be managed, so may we
manage our brains. A driver may carefully control the expenditure
of energy and the course traveled, or he may throw the reins over
the dash and allow the horse to go his own gait and route. In the
same way we may manage or mismanage our brains.