"Sometimes doing things faster or with less detail does not add to effectiveness..."

The president of a large corporation gave his tickets to the evening performance of Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony" to the company's efficiency expert. The next morning, the president found the following written report on his desk:

1. For considerable periods, the oboe players had nothing to do. The numbers should be reduced and their work spread over the whole orchestra.

2. All twelve violins were playing identical notes. This seems an unnecessary duplication, and the staff of this section should be drastically reduced.

3. Much effort was absorbed in the playing of grace-notes. This seems an excessive refinement and it is recommended that all 16th notes be rounded up to the nearest eighth. If this were done, it should be possible to use trainees and lower-grade operators at reduced salaries.

4. No useful purpose is served by repeating with the horns, the same passages that have already been handled by the strings. If all such redundant passages were eliminated, the concert could be reduced from two hours to twenty minutes. In fact, if Schubert had attended to these matters, he probably should have been able to finish the symphony after all.


Last updated Wednesday December 13, 1995
Jonathan Dufour (jdufour@cs.ucsd.edu)