SCHUBERT´S UNFINISHED SYMPHONY AND THE EFFICIENCY EXPERT


The president of a company was also the chairman of the local symphony orchestra. He couldn’t go to one of the concerts, so he gave his tickets to a man working for the company as a management consultant. The next morning the president asked the consultant how he’d enjoyed the performance. Instead of the usual polite remarks, he handed the president a memorandum that went something like this:

The undersigned respectfully submits the following comments and recommendations relative to the performance of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony by the civic orchestra as observed under actual working conditions.

A. For considerable periods, the four oboe players had nothing to do. Their numbers should be reduced and their work spread over the whole orchestra, thus eliminating the peaks and valleys of activity.

B. All twelve violins were playing identical notes with identical motions. This is unnecessary duplication and the staff of this section should be drastically cut with consequent substantial savings. If larger volume of sound is required, this could be obtained through electric amplification, which has reached high levels of reproductive quality.

C. Much effort was expended in playing 16th notes or semi quavers. This seems an excessive refinement since most of the hearers are unable to distinguish such rapid playing. It is recommended that all notes be rounded to the nearest 8th. If this were done, it would be possible to use trainees and lower grade operators with no loss of quality.

D. No useful purpose would appear to be served by repeating with horns the same passage that has already been handled by the strings. If all such redundant passages had been eliminated, the concert could have been reduced from two hours to twenty minutes, with savings in salaries and overhead. In fact, if Schubert had attended to these matters, he probably would have finished his symphony.
Respectfully submitted,
I.M. Efficient