By Nigel Balchin, Hamish Hamilton, 1951

Nigel Balchin wrote this under the pseudonym Mark Spade. It is unfortunately out of print. One of my copies is from the Women’s Internation Club Library, Djakarta. The book was originally written in 1934. It’s total tongue-in-cheek, but there are lessons to be learned for those who like big plans and ideas.


IF you are going to be managing director of this factory there are one or two little points of technique which you ought to get clear. Remember these. They are important:

(1) You are being paid to Think. Never forget that, because if anyone ever asks you what the blazes you’re doing that’s the answer – Being paid to think. If you find it difficult to think of anything very much, give it up and read the paper. It’s no use killing yourself with worry.

(2) It is also your job to organise. Remember that the hallmark of a good Organiser is that he never does anything himself. He has Delegated his work so perfectly that there is nothing left to do. The whole art of organisation [p30] consists in getting someone else to do your work. If you find yourself doing something, stop at once and think. After all - your time costs the firm more than anyone else’s. Clearly it would be an economy. to make some other more lowly-paid person do it. Let me give you a single example which illustrates my point. Supposing one winter’s day it becomes so dark in your office that you can’t see the print of your paper. Now your first instinct is probably to get up and switch on the light. But pause a moment. Is that quite fair to the firm? A good organiser would reason like this: “In the next office is my secretary. The cost of her time to the firm is only one seventh of the cost of mine. Clearly we shall save money if I ring for her and let her switch the light on.” You see? The good organiser sees at once how to get the job done as economically as possible.

You will, of course, appreciate, by following this line of reasoning carefully, that it would be definitely wasteful for the managing director to do anything. He resembles nothing so much as a pearl so rare and costly that one could never think of wearing it.