The Efficiency Expert

The Efficiency Expert

Study Guide 5: Consultants

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Guide opening:

The Efficiency Expert is set in Australia in the 1960s. The movie works on several levels: as a coming of age story about a young worker, the getting of wisdom by an industrial patriarch, the getting of different wisdom by a hard-nosed consultant. While these elements add to the overall appeal of this little-known Australian movie, its great strengths lie in its articulation of problems facing modern businesses and their employees in the wake of changing markets.

Excerpt from the plot summary:

Wallace complains that the reforms aren’t being adhered to and tells Ball he must enforce them. He then confronts Ball over the financial information he has received, noting that Ball has been selling off assets to protect the business and the workers. “You haven’t made a real profit since 1963. You’re in a dire situation, Mr. Ball, and you know it. The kind of changes I’ve been making won’t make one iota’s worth of difference.”

Ball will make sure the changes are tried. He takes charge, going to the lunchroom and noting, with sad-eyed firmness, that the new work rules have been ignored and that they must be followed. “Those of you who shouldn’t be here, please return to your stations.” They do, apologizing to Ball as they return to work, but giving the cold shoulder to Carey, whom they feel has ratted them out. Later we see Carey being ignored as he says good night to old friends at shift’s end. One of them informs him that they’ve let the air out of his bicycle tires. Carey’s father remains supportive. He tells Carey not to worry about, that his former colleagues will get used to the changes.

Summary of the commentary:

The commentary explores Ball’s failure to empower his employees by instilling in them a sense of control over their own destiny. Ball’s Moccasins is even more paternal and anachronistic in its management style than is Other People’s Money’s New England Wire & Cable. In Ball’s case, there’s no need to worry about takeover because there will soon be nothing left. Closure, not new management, awaits the company unless something happens fast. The commentary discusses the roles and techniques used by productivity consultants, comparing and contrasting the applications of these techniques at Ball’s and Duramax. It also presents lessons based on Ball’s product lines, its focus on product instead of customers, Mr. Ball’s misunderstanding of his stewardship responsibilities and the problems of succession in a small family firm.

The commentary is supplemented by Breakout Boxes dealing with these topics:

  • Wallace’s Three Rules for a Healthy Bottom Line
  • The Articulate Manager: Mr. Ball’s Credo
  • The Articulate Manager: Erroll Fixes the Blame
  • Consultants: What They Do and How They Do It
  • Measuring Productivity: Taylorism and Demmingism
  • Six Rules for Retooling the Product Line: Keeping in Touch with Markets

THE GUIDE also includes an essay that looks at business as depicted in the movies. For an introductory section on how to use the Management Goes to the Movies™ program, click through to Using The MGTTM Training Program.

This guide will soon be available for purchase as an instant download for $5.95.