- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 3 Nov 1955, p. 71-89
- Whitehead, Commander, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Automation and the development of the mechanical age. A reconsideration of the growing significance of the human factor. Mechanization and the introduction of new and fantastically powerful weapons and explosives during the Second World War. The human factor remaining of supreme importance and the need for adjustment of outmoded points of view. The practice that gained ground during World War II of explaining exactly why and what it was all about to the men who were going to do the actual fighting. A Churchillian story. The significance of the human factor in a number of spheres of experience in which the speaker has been personally involved. Illustrative examples of the significance of the human factor. The art of management. Selection and training of individuals. An example from the military. Development and education of employees. The successful introduction of improved methods. The speaker's experiences in education and training. A Treasury publication "TARGET" and its effectiveness on management. Sixteen major points of a personnel policy from Thomas G. Spates, former Director and Vice President in charge of labour relations in General Foods Corporation, and more recently a consultant on the subject at Yale. The significance of the human factor in the speaker's company. Importance to Canada's industrial and commercial practice. Canada as the land of the future. The need for Canada to continue "to attract the best leadership material that exists; and to ensure that the industrial climate is such that they and the men who follow their lead are satisfied that in Canada a man can give of his best unhampered by avoidable frustration and unhappiness; confidence that whilst seeking his own salvation he is also ensuring the future of this great Country."
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- 3 Nov 1955
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- Full Text
"THE HUMAN FACTOR" A PERSONAL STORY
An Address by COMMANDER WHITEHEAD President of Schweppes (U.S.A.) and the General Manager of Schweppes (Overseas)
Thursday, November 3rd, 1955
CHAIRMAN: The President, Dr. C. C. Goldring.
DR. C. C. GOLDRING: Our guest today has a distinguished record of achievement. Commander Whitehead is President of Schweppes (U.S.A.) and the General Manager of Schweppes (Overseas). During World War II, he served in the Royal Navy and rose to the rank of Commander.
After the War, he served in non-political positions in the Government of the United Kingdom. First he was assigned to the Ministry of Labour to advise on the resettlement of war veterans. Later he accepted a top administrative appointment in the Treasury at the time when Sir Stafford Cripps was Chancellor. In this post, the Commander advised both management and labour on human factor problems affecting industrial productivity, and was responsible for interpreting Britain's economic needs to industry.
During recent years, Commander Whitehead has travelled in many parts of the world in the interests of his company, which has expanded rapidly throughout North and South America, as well as carrying on business in France, Belgium, Malta, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Kenya, Mexico, Ceylon, and India.
From his wide experiences in various fields of work, and as a result of his knowledge of conditions in many countries, Commander Whitehead is well qualified to speak on the general subjects of human values in relation to business and industry.
The Empire Club is always happy to welcome a guest from England. Most of us have seen Commander Whitehead's picture and some of us have seen him in action on television. Now we are happy to have him here with us and we anticipate the pleasure of hearing him address us on the topic "The Human Factor".
COMMANDER WHITEHEAD: At this stage in the development of the mechanical age, when automation is the current word and the progressive elimination of manual effort is the trend in industry, it is salutary for us to reconsider the growing significance of the human factor. There can be little doubt that more and more turns on man, the individual.
In war, despite mechanization and the introduction of new and fantastically powerful weapons and explosives, the human factor remains of supreme importance and continues to call for adjustment of outmoded points of view.
During World War II 1 had quite a bit to do with Naval training, officer selection, and morale problems, and I know that it was necessary and at times very difficult for some senior officers to adjust themselves to new concepts and to accept changes that were as inevitable as the march of time. 'Twas ever thus, no doubt. The traditional outlook dies hard.
Some of these concepts were not of themselves new, but the circumstances were and their application, their effect upon men who were called upon to bear the heat of the day called for a fresh approach, a reassessment of the human factor.
Take, for instance, the practice that gained ground during World War 11 of explaining exactly why and what it was all about to the men who were going to do the actual fighting. Field Marshall Lord Montgomery's North African departure from the norm in putting everyone into the picture on the eve of battle was emulated in other spheres and in other services. The effect upon morale was often staggering.
Some of you will have heard the Churchillian story, which certainly ought to be true, illustrating the Prime Minister's concern with this subject. On a visit to a certain command that had been slow to adopt this approach, Winston Churchill is supposed to have told a certain General that he thought there was room for some improvement in his communications - particularly between officers and men.
"I've always taken the view, sir, that familiarity breeds contempt" replied the General.
"Without a certain amount of familiarity", said Churchill, "it would be difficult to breed anything at all."
In fact, of course, this was no new thing. Over a century earlier, in my own Service, Nelson had practised something very similar and I have little doubt that outstanding leaders of men, far back into history, have made for themselves the discovery that men fight better, with better heart, when they know why and for what exactly they are fighting. The attitude expressed by Tennyson's lines, "Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die" is, of course, the very antithesis of this philosophy. We would appear to be struggling towards the light.
But, I don't propose to spend more time on war problems. I want to point up the significance of the human factor in a number of spheres of experience in which I have personally been involved since the end of World War II. I cannot offer you a skilled analysis of all the considerations that arise in each of these instances. This is essentially a layman's interpretation, a personal story. I shall endeavour to pick out a central theme and emphasise some of the main conclusions that I have come to as a result of this variety of experience.
During the year that followed the end of the war I remained in the Service to do a job, the need for which I had spent quite a bit of time and trouble pointing out to those above me.
It had been part of my assignment to make a study of the British Government's provisions for the resettlement of the servicemen, the sailor in particular; and I'd been responsible in part for setting up arrangements to communicate and explain these provisions to the men serving in ships and establishments all over the world.
Towards the end of the war I had toured the Pacific and East Indies Fleets to explain, primarily to officers, exactly what was planned and help them, in turn, to explain these things to the men serving under them-some of them 12,000 miles from home.
At the end of all this, I had come to the conclusion that the Government's enactments and plans for the average rating would probably be effective in dealing with the complicated questions that were likely to arise at the end of the war. Broken Apprenticeships, Further Education and Training, Reinstatement in Civil Employment, and other such acts and provisions seemed to take care of the foreseeable problems. But what of the officer? Particularly the man who had developed and displayed qualities of leadership and skills that could not be easily defined, but which would be nonetheless necessary in industry and commerce in the Post War World. Translation of service qualifications to a civilian environment had always been fraught with difficulties; but to make the best use of the talent that had been evinced, particularly amongst younger men who had been given an opportunity to develop latent qualities of leadership, was, to my mind, essential from everyone's point of view - not least the officers themselves.
The official channel through which these men were expected to seek their niche was the Ministry of Labour Appointments Office; Service Departments, including the Admiralty, were not regarded as being officially concerned. Should the Admiralty, in its own interests, not concern itself? I thought so. I foresaw real difficulties and, having stated them to my superiors and made specific recommendations, I eventually found myself landed with the job of doing something about it.
During the year or so that followed I interviewed and endeavoured to help hundreds of naval officers, mostly reservists like myself, and I did what I could, within and without the "official machine", to help them. I made independent efforts to "sell" N.O.'s to industry and commerce - starting with concerns in which ex-Naval Officers were Directors or in positions of influence.
In the course of this work I made a few discoveries; some of them rather obvious; some that underlined the needs I'd had in mind at the outset. The men who had most to offer in the way of degrees and civilian experience, were, of course, much in demand and presented little difficulty. Industry was quick to snap them up. But the men who were not so equipped were very difficult to "sell". The difficulties were obvious, o€ course. Those who had vacancies preferred to play safe and wait for a candidate with the accepted paper qualifications, rather than take a chance with one who had not.
The situation was often aggravated by the shortcomings of the candidates themselves. They were not practised in the art of presenting themselves and often lacked the capacity to strike a responsive note in the minds of those who interviewed them.
Time does not permit me to attempt to analyse the many factors bearing or deal, in detail, with improved methods of selection such as the "Country House" or "House Party" method, adapted from the fighting services; but I want, here and now, to make one point amply clear.
Arbitrary rules as to minimum qualifications and methods of selection that do not allow full consideration of the individual - particularly that elusive personal quality that I call the "answering gleam in the eyes", that quick responsive spark that is found in all too few candidates-will bring in plenty of good average men. But in the process the employer might well be losing the future leaders he seeks; men of real capacity, men of vision, men with a rapid grasp of fundamentals, men with fire in their bellies.
Spotting such men in the embryo stage, seeing potential where it exists and providing the "culture" in which it can grow and develop are skills that are not easily come by. They are the very essence, the basic function, the very art of management-man management.
Improved selection techniques undoubtedly help but, at best, these are aids.
Since I compiled these notes I read in the New York "Times" the following:
INDUSTRY ADVISED ON CHOOSING MEN
An interim report of the Conservation of Human Resources Project, set up five years ago by President Eisenhower at Columbia University, has made two salient points: That vast reservoirs of talent will be wasted if too much reliance is placed on screening devices similar to those used by World War II psychiatrists.
That industry should not sharply differentiate in its personnel practices between college trained and non-college trained job applicants. . . It is explained that psychiatrists have concluded that too much emphasis was placed on too short a screening interview and that in the interview too much stress was put on nail biting, shyness and related traits.
The report also explains that among those individuals with the most aptitude for learning-those who score in intelligence tests in the upper 6 per cent of the population-less than half are graduated from college. "The fact that such a high percentage of the best `brainpower' in the country has not graduated from college has important policy implications for employers", the report says.
"Any personnel policy which differentiates sharply between college trained and the non-college trained group is dangerous. The college trained group includes many individuals of quite average and perhaps inferior ability, while the non-college trained group includes many very able persons."
We are learning about things all the time. A few employers, individualists usually, used to say to me "I know you can provide many candidates worth a thousand a year here and now, but show me two or three to whom I can justifiably pay two thousand five hundred pounds a year, and I'll snap them up."
It is because the field here is pretty thin and because of the difficulties of selection that one hears so often top men of large concerns saying that the only limiting factor in the development of their business is manpower. And they don't mean for the middle echelon. It's leaders that are wanted.
I'd like to give you one example. I'm quoting facts 'though I'm changing the names, for obvious reasons. Amongst the many young Lieutenants, in their late twenties, that came to me for advice and assistance was one I shall call James. His qualifications on paper were virtually nil; his liabilities were considerable-he had acquired a wife and son during his service in the Royal Navy; he had no money; he was spending the last of his gratuity supporting his family; there was another baby on the way. His qualifications were limited to a brief experience as a cadet, at sea, before the war.
However, James had what I have described as an answering gleam in the eye. I was convinced that he was the stuff that leaders are made of. I submitted his name, with details, to two or three employers and inevitably he was turned down because he hadn't got the minimum requirements - usually a second class honours degree. Then I went to the head of a large company, that I shall call Browns, and told him about James, saying I would stake my reputation on his suitability for training for a top management position. Almost as a favour to me James was taken on, with two or three candidates with the right qualifications, and put to work as an ordinary labourer in a large plant in the Midlands.
A year or so later, when I had left the Service, I happened to be visiting this plant in the Midlands and whilst being shown around by the manager I spotted James, working at a lathe with other men, indistinguishable except by his cheerful countenance. He caught my eye and we were about to speak when the manager nudged me and said "Don't notice him now, you will have a chance later". So I passed on and continued my tour of the plant.
Later that afternoon I was asked to return to the Boardroom, where I found James, with three or four other candidates that I had channeled in to that firm, invited to tea, schoolboy style, to say hello to me. I learned from James that he was living with his wife and two children in a small working man's house, with other workers from the; factory on either side of him. He had not, like the other candidates, segregated himself and lived entirely separately, away in the city. The Manager told me that he was showing considerable promise, particularly in his ability to get on with other men; more, in fact, than any of the other candidates that they had taken on since the war.
Next I ran into James about another year later, when I was working at the Treasury in London. He told one that he'd been put in charge of an experimental division, details of which are irrelevant. It was clear that he was being given his chance to show his initiative and enterprise. He telephoned me a month or so later to tell me that he had hit upon a good idea which was working out happily as far as his experiment was concerned.
I didn't hear from him again until two years later. I had just joined Schweppes when I had a call from him and barely remembered who he was. He asked me to lunch with him as he had news for me, and I fixed the date for about three weeks ahead. I remember when the day came around and my secretary told me that a young man called James was waiting for me below, I had to keep him waiting for about ten minutes. When I joined him I was somewhat surprised to be led out to a large chauffeur driven car and whisked off to a smart restaurant in the West End, for lunch.
It didn't take long for me to learn the details of his progress. His Company had instituted a modification of the "Country House" type of selection procedure for the purpose of finding, amongst their own junior executives, a top man for the position of Sales Manager of the whole concern. Though James was by far the youngest candidate, he'd been picked. He told me that he was very surprised to find himself selected because he had not been able to complete some of the tests; but he had been forthcoming in explaining why the tests were not, in his view, entirely appropriate and, incidentally, beyond his experience. Quite obviously he had argued his case pretty effectively.
In the opinion of the Managing Director of the Company, I learned afterwards, James was head and shoulders above the other candidates, but because he was too young to be given the job of Sales Manager, he was made Personal Assistant to the Managing Director, who for the time being assumed the additional responsibilities.
I've dwelt at some length on this aspect of the human factor because I surmise that it is just about the most important single factor to you in this most promising field for new blood, in this land of opportunity, this Country with a big future, Canada.
During the next phase of my life, as Secretary of BACIE, a voluntary association or foundation of Industrialists and Educationalists, whose aim was to raise the level of education and training in industry, I had ample opportunity to observe other aspects of the human factor.
In this and my subsequent job, at the Treasury, I came into close contact with leading industrialists who were in the vanguard in developing and applying enlightened concepts in the field of human relations.
Starting with a somewhat idealistic view of these things, convinced of their worthwhileness for their own sake, I came, in time, to regard them with a more realistic eye. But I have retained unstinted admiration for those industrial pioneers who, for humanitarian reasons, fostered and influenced others to introduce, schemes for the continued non-vocational education of young people who had left school at an early age to work for them.
Many would argue that the proper development and general education of employees is no concern of the employer; beyond, of course, their training for the job. But, fortunately, there are and have been for many years those who take a broader view. A farsighted few realized that the future of Great Britain, the future of mankind perhaps, might depend upon our capacity to bring out the best that is in every man; to give each youngster a chance to develop himself up to the limit of his capacity.
If one subscribes, as I do, to the broad definition that an educated man is one who can entertain another, entertain himself and entertain a new idea, the worthwhileness of these endeavours is obvious.
The Education (or Butler) Act of 1944 effectively acknowledged the work of these pioneers and introduced many of the improvements they had been advocating for 25 years.
The ideal behind these efforts is difficult to put in a few words. It is best expressed, I think, in the lines of Nicholas Vachel Lindsay:
"Let not young souls be smothered out until they do quaint deeds and fully flaunt their pride.
It is the world's worst crime, its babes grow dull, its poor are ox-like, limp and leadeneyed.
Not that they sleep, but that they sleep so dreamlessly; not that they sow, but that they seldom reap; Not that they serve, but have no gods to serve; not that they die, but that they die like sheep." 'Though comparatively few employers in Britain were prepared to interpret, quite so generously, their responsibilities towards their employees, more and more were introducing enlightened personnel policies that were not only sound, from an ethical and humanitarian point of view, but paid, ultimately in terms of dividends. Moreover, many concerns came to realise that such schemes could be supported as enlightened self-interest.
As I discovered, particularly in my subsequent job, the concerns that had adopted such policies were more often than not the same ones that were making substantial increases in productivity-at a time when this was vital to Britain's recovery.
The successful introduction of improved methods, reorganisation, work study and other innovations that are sometimes unpopular with employees at the outset, went hand in hand with full explanation and a proper understanding and interpretation of the employees point of view. Upon perception of this fact often depended the success of such innovations.
Within these same organisations one found proper examination and the appropriate application of schemes that ensured security of employment; proper incentives; a well marked channel for promotion; facilities for joint consultation, for airing grievances and making suggestions; adequate recognition of status and authority, particularly of intermediate management; a clear-cut chain of command, with no authority without responsibility and vice versa; education and training; pensions, health and profit sharing schemes. All these subjects were recognised for their importance and bearing upon that elusive question: What makes a man tick and give of his best?
Despite the fact that I was limited primarily to education and training I would not have relinquished my work with BACIE, in which I was happy in a field abounding with opportunity, had not Sir Stafford Cripps, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, persuaded me to accept responsibility for the task of explaining, and finding ways and means of explaining, Britain's economic needs to industry -management as well as labour.
Sir Stafford, whose contribution towards the economic recovery of my Country is seldom recognised, was an inspiration to work for. Regardless of party politics and the natural antipathy of usually Tory employers towards a Socialist Chancellor, I found industrialists, by and large, recognised his innate integrity and dedication to his task, and were therefore amenable to his efforts to inculcate some appreciation of what the trouble was and what had to be done about it. The Unions and the T.U.C. were not slow to appreciate this need; there was less reason for them to be.
With Sir Stafford's leadership we introduced TARGET, a Treasury publication that went free to every employer of more than a hundred men, in which case histories, drawn from a wide variety of industries, were presented month by month. In the early stages these case histories demonstrated what was being done in this firm and that, towards increasing awareness and providing incentives towards greater effort-not necessarily longer or harder hours of work but genuine effort directed towards the achievement of the Country's economic goals through full recognition of the contribution of the individual, working through his team, his firm and his industry.
We sought to encourage the practice of bringing workers into the confidence of management, telling them exactly how and why their efforts could contribute towards the solution of their Country's difficulties. We sought to encourage the idea which Montgomery had propounded during the war-that men work better when they know exactly what is expected of them and for what they are working.
Later, TARGET's case histories emphasised the less abstract contribution of firms that had succeeded in increasing productive efficiency, positive gains in output, from substantially the same resources. New capital equipment being non-existent, almost, this was an important contribution towards Britain's economic recovery.
It was during this period that I had the privilege of sitting in on the deliberations of the Human Factors Panel, under the Chairmanship of Sir George Schuster; this was one of a number of panels set up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Lord President of the Council, to consider specific aspects of productivity.
Through TARGET and by addresses to groups of employers and Trade Unionists up and down the country, we sought to disseminate information on all aspects of this subject likely to be helpful in obtaining increased productivity.
During that time, and often since, I have been asked to express in a few words the fundamentals of a sound personnel policy. Assuming your interest, it might be worth passing on to you a concise sixteen point policy which I learned from its author, Thomas G. Spates, then Director and Vice President in charge of labour relations in General Foods Corporation and, more recently, a consultant on this subject at Yale.
Until the time I first heard Mr. Spates outline his policy at a Conference at Brighton, 1 had not referred, in the brief editorials of TARGET which I used to write, to any non-British examples of this kind, but my colleagues agreed that this should be the exception. This was clearly as concise and pithy a statement as one was likely to find. Time and space does not permit elaboration of this policy, but here is an outline of its sixteen major points:
1. The practice of high standards of character and morality so that the institution stands as a source of inspiration which endows all other personnel practices with qualities of honesty and integrity. This practice helps everyone on the payroll keep his chin up when the going gets tough. 2. Provide everyone on the payroll with a written statement of principles of personnel administration consistent with the philosophy upon which our nation was founded, and act on those principles courageously in every situation. 3. Good leadership, motivated by high standards of administration rather than by expediency and exploitation. There are volumes of testimony and some scientific data to support the conclusion that the greatest single factor in the productivity of the individual is his mental attitude toward his boss. 4. Organisation concept and structure consistent with long-established standards affecting authority, responsibility, planning, co-ordination, control and channels of communication. Developing a personnel program without a sound organisation structure is like putting frosting on a poor piece of cake. 5. The designation of a well qualified person in the highest level of general management to specialize in solving the problems of people, and to help see to it that all the practices of the code are made effective. This person should be selected according to standards of personal and technical competence, no less than those required of other important members of general management. 6. The practice of satisfying the desire for participation, by means of consultation and explanation, both up and down, through all echelons of organisation. If one were forced, under pain of severe punishment, to express the essence of sound personnel administration in just two words, those words would be "Consultation" and "Explanation". 7. The practice of keeping everyone on the payroll informed on all matters affecting their interests. 8. Encouraging freedom of expression of points of view and attitude without fear of reprisals. 9. A total work environment that appeals to the self respect and dignity of the individual. 10. Sympathetic consideration of people's trials and tribulations, particularly supervisors who too often are not given time or the place to go to air their gripes. 11. Steadiness and certainty of employment. It is the psychological rather than the financial aspect of this practice that justifies its inclusion here. 12. A plan of promotional opportunity. People like to have the answer to the questions "Where do I go from here?" and "By what route?" 13. Equitable wage and salary structures that recognise differences in job and position requirements, as measured by such factors as knowledge, skill, difficulty and responsibility. 14. A training programme designed to help everyone perform, in the best known ways, the tasks that are assigned for the attainment of stated objectives. 15. Recognition, particularly through individual evaluation, so that it may be said of each person on the payroll: He is prepared with what to go where. 16. A spirit of friendliness which is the essence of all good human relations and which should be diffused throughout the organisation like the sunlight that pierces the clouds.
Why is this such an outstanding example of sound personnel policy? The answer is, I think, that underlying the statement is a recognition of the fact that employees are people. The accent is on the human factor. When industry is organised in large units and management is concentrating its attention on keeping up with the latest technological improvements there is a tendency to think of workers as machines. They are distinguished from real machines only by the facts that they go home at night and do not require any maintenance. We are beginning to realize, however, that this view leads neither to happiness for the worker nor to high productivity for the plant. We need to give more attention to the social and spiritual needs of employees and the conditions which have to be met if they are to be both happy and productive.
Perhaps I might mention in this connection that next summer men and women from all over the Commonwealth are going to meet at Oxford to do just this. His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, who has always taken a great interest in industrial welfare, has called a Study Conference on the Human Problems of Industrial Communities. I understand the Conference will be attended by about 280 members, 30 of whom will come from Canada. The members will include people from both management and labour and they will be predominantly people who are actively engaged in industry rather than research workers. The Conference will provide wonderful opportunity for people from countries in various stages of development to compare notes on the problems which industrialisation brings with it and to do some serious constructive thinking about these problems.
The calling of this Study Conference is a bold and imaginative approach to the task which we were trying to tackle through the Human Factors Panel and TARGET. While one does not expect immediate and startling results in this kind of work, I am sure that over the long run the Duke of Edinburgh's Conference will be of great benefit to those attending it and the organizations with which they are associated.
My experience since I left the Treasury and joined Schweppes in July, 1950, has been in very different fields. Purposely so, since my new boss-F. C. Hooper -generously regarded me as being reasonably well qualified in the matter of human relations in industry, and wanted me to learn other sides of business.
It had always seemed to me a great pity that men who had made exhaustive studies in the field of personnel management were often incapable of effecting the changes they knew to be desirable, either because of their own lack of force of personality - perhaps coupled with the fact that their bosses desired to pay no more than lip service to the cause - or because they had insufficient experience outside that particular field. As a result, their management colleagues paid them scant attention, cherishing the thought that a little down to earth experience in the field of making the company pay would soon cure all this airy fairy nonsense.
I welcomed this chance of broadening my experience. But to revert to my most recent experience. It has been my added good fortune that during the past three years I have had the satisfaction of being able to play some small part in putting into practice one of the major precepts urged upon industry at the time I was working for the Government, i.e. to earn more dollars. Britain's economic salvation depends on just that.
In the process, and entirely fortuitously, I have learned of another facet of the human factor. Here I cannot avoid being specific and referring to myself and my product.
It would be immodest for me to appear to attach undue importance to the role that I personally have been called upon to play in the introduction of domestically bottled Schweppes to North America. But, standing outside myself for a moment and viewing this thing objectively, I am convinced that we owe much to David Ogilvy-who conceived the idea of personalising the product in this way-and to my colleagues, Al Steele and F. C. Hooper, who had the perspicacity to support him.
Despite the quality of the product and the tremendous support we have had from our colleagues, the Pepsi-Cola Company, I cannot blind myself to the fact that without this factor, it would have taken us many more years and a heap more money (which could not have been forthcoming, owing to Britain's dollar shortage) to gain coast-to-coast recognition and public acceptance upon the scale that we have already achieved.
We still have a long way to go, of course-we cannot yet boast national distribution throughout Canada and the United States of America - but having spent a lot of time travelling back and forth across this continent - as well as twice around the globe last year - I wonder how many people really appreciate the scale of such an undertaking? What we have achieved, even so far, is no small thing.
"People are more interested in individual personalities than in corporations" says David Ogilvy, and I think he has proved his point. How else, under what other circumstances, would we, promoting the sale of a British product, be given the hospitality of the editorial columns of newspapers and equivalent T.V. and Radio time in almost all the major cities up and down the North American continent?
This is not wholly attributable to a personal idiosyncrasy - the fact that I elected to retain the beard I grew during the war - it is because there is an intangible something in all this. For want of a better definition we could call it "human interest" or "news value".
People are curious to know more about this odd Englishman who combines the offices of President and model. Who is he? What is he really like? How did all this come about? How does he keep the situation from getting out of hand? Does he retain a sense of humour about the whole thing, and is he able to laugh at himself? Can he continue to advance his Company's affairs without taking flagrant commercial advantage of all these opportunities? How does he fill this wildly un-British role that he has been called upon to play?
These are the kind of human problems that interest people. I know because they have formed the basis of countless questions at innumerable interviews.
The questions themselves have ranged widely. I am expected to defend British foreign policy in S.E. Asia; to justify trading with China and our point of view on all kinds of controversial issues. Also, to answer loaded questions such as the one asked by a young woman - member of the "live" audience at a Los Angeles T.V. show: "How do American women strike you?" (I replied, correctly, "So far, none have.")
Needless to say, the beard, as a subject for discussion, has loomed large. As a result of this enforced self-examination, I can now put up a case for not shaving that I would not have dreamed existed when, in September 1939, hearing that war was declared, I threw my razor over the side and vowed not to shave until victory should be won.
And what is the relevance of all this to my subject? The thread that I have endeavoured to maintain throughout these episodes in my post-war life has, I admit, become a little tenuous. But having set down some of my main conclusions - drawn from pre-1950 experience - it seemed false modesty on my part to omit to continue from there and draw the conclusion that in one more field of endeavour the human factor would seem to be of paramount importance.
What is the particular significance of all this to Canada? Not having had the opportunity to do any research into Canadian industrial and commercial practice in this field, it may be that I am preaching to the converted - that the approach that I have indicated in broad terms is generally accepted and applied. But in case not, I would humbly suggest that it behoves you, gentlemen, to think on these things; strive to avoid the pitfalls and the mistakes that we in the old world have perforce had to surmount.
This is the land of the future. Plenty of keen young men, dissatisfied with the restrictions of the old order, have asked my advice as to where in the world they should go to seek their fortunes. Industrial leaders of my acquaintance with far more influence than I, have replied, "Canada".
If you are going to succeed in attracting and keeping the best of them you must not waste time learning lessons that have already been learned. You must stand on our shoulders and press on from there.
Canada's phenomenal growth and development so far, is, as I see it, only an indication of what can be and will be achieved during the next few decades.
But to secure this and to ensure that this progress is in the right direction and along sound lines, it will be necessary for you to continue to attract the best leadership material that exists; and to ensure that the industrial climate is such that they and the men who follow their lead are satisfied that in Canada a man can give of his best unhampered by avoidable frustration and unhappiness; confident that whilst seeking his own salvation he is also ensuring the future of this great Country.