Cutting Corners

Work by Wilfred kalf

 

Cutting Corners

Everyone likes to gain the maximum benefit from the work they do. We all like a shortcut home, especially welcome if you are feeling tired, after a long walk. A shortcut is in its very essence more efficient than taking the longer route. But usually it brings with it other perils. You might need to cross a field with a raging bull in it. Or negotiate a babbling brook. Wet socks could be the trade-off for the time or distance you save. 

Efficiency

It is said that some managers look for lazy people to do jobs because they find the easiest way to do things and so the most efficient. A technology manufacturer is apt to say something like this. And it amuses most people when they think about it. The danger lies in whether or not the person coming up with the more efficient method fully understands the reason for the work in the first place. There is something about honest work that wins our respect. But efficiency is not that new a notion. In fact, the wheel was probably one of the earliest efficiency improvements as an upgrade for the rolling log or boulder.

So, what could possibly be wrong with modern efficiency?

There is nothing wrong with modern efficiency in itself, as long as we do not lose sight of the point of what we are doing. Factories seek efficiency because that is their nature. They are efficiency machines.

The Process

Individual crafts people and small teams of artisans have always looked for ways to improve the things they make. And sometimes this improves efficiency too, although this is rarely their primary focus. They do not cut corners to squeeze out a fraction more profit, because they have accepted that good work takes time. They have embraced that because they love the process of making as much as the reason for making the thing.

So when a true artisan cuts corners, you know it is not to save time, but more likely to stop you from picking up a bruise.




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