The Power of
His first days with The Company were full of new experiences for Stanley, and sometimes these
understanding of the ways of the corporate world generally, and of The Company particularly.
not pleasant experiences. Like most new hires, Stanley had lots of book knowledge, but precious little
-Where in the hell is he?" Ben Franklyn's bellow reverberated through the building. Stanley's first
impulse was to answer back, "Over here,” but he caught himself. He knew Ben was referring to him,
and he knew that everybody else a hundred yards in each direction knew it too. But for the life of him,
A minute or two later, Ben Franklyn came into Stanley's office, where Stanley had been sitting all along.
he couldn't figure out what he'd done.
(Ben could have found him without all the bellowing, but then Ben liked to bellow.)
"What in the hell have you been doing in B Building?"
"Nothing, since the crew finished installing those overhead pipes," replied Stanley. “Is there a problem?
"Let's take a walk over to B; I want to show you something." Stanley tagged along after Ben, still
bewildered. There was certainly nothing wrong with the overhead pipes, so what could it be?
Ben, pointing above, growled, "What is that stuff?” Ben knew, of course, but that wasn't the
"You've never seen Insuban?” said Stanley innocently. "Insulating material. The specs called for those
pipes to be insulated, so I ordered the best stuff I could find."
Ben is just about purple. "Insuban?" he fumed. "Expandrium! Ex-pan-dri-um! That's what we make!"
"Damn right, for insulation and a lot of other things you've never thought of. And we will use it. If we
don't use it, then who the hell else will???
"Well, we can't take it down now," said Stanley. "There's a lot of money up there. I guess it's too late"
"Oh no, it isn't. Get yourself some Expandrium paint and have somebody go up there and cover that
stuff up. Now! Right away! Before somebody sees it!"
“So I had it taken care of,” Stanley is telling me later, “but how come Franklyn's getting so excited about
something like that? Who the hell is ever going to look at what's on those pipes? And who in the world
Stanley, in reliving the story, is getting heated up all over again. “Who ever heard of insulating anything
with Expandrium anyhow? Man, I'm an engineer, not a salesman! That's not the kind of thing I'm
supposed to worry about!”
Scarcely a few weeks had passed when Ted Shelby, one of Mr. Marsh's staff assistants, announced
that the CEO himself would be touring the now-finished project that week. Stanley, as Assistant Plant
Engineer, would accompany the touring party to provide “technical backup,” to answer questions that
might arise on details of the new construction. The occasion was to mark the official opening of the
B Building facility and, incidentally, give Mr. Marsh an opportunity to impress upon members of the
Board of Directors that The Company was indeed a dynamic, world-class organization.
So it is that Mr. Marsh and the board members, along with Ted and Stanley, all properly outfitted in
hardhats and safety glasses, are clambering along the elevated catwalk that runs the length of the building.
“Good view of the entire show from here, Ted," comments one of the influential board members. “Say,"
he says, pointing to Stanley's disguised overhead pipes, which are right in front of his nose, “Isn't that
Expandrium insulation? I don't believe I've seen that application before.
Stanley, seizing the moment, cuts in politely, “Well, sir, it's always been our material of choice in The
Company. Fact is, we're finding new uses for Expandrium almost every day. We see it this way—when
your own outfit makes the best product, you go with it.”
Mr. Marsh could be seen nodding vigorously at Stanley's explanation. And later, just after the group
breaks up, but before Stanley is out of earshot, Marsh turns to Ted and says: “Good show, Ted. You
know, I wish more of our people would understand, like young what's-his-name there does, that every
one of us is a salesman for The Company.
1. How does this story illustrate impression management? (Think of more than one way.)
2. How does this story illustrate socialization? What did Stanley learn specifically, and
3. In reliving the story, why does Stanley say, “I am an engineer, not a sales person, I am
not supposed to worry about that sort of thing anyway"?
4. Do you agree with Mr. Marsh's statement that, “I wish more people would realize that
we are all sales people for the company"? In other words, are all employees of a given
organization salespeople for the organization?Why or Why not?
5. Can you recall any significant socialization experiences? (It may have been an instance
made a "mistake” of some sort and learned from it by figuring out the
reasons for peoples' reactions, rather than by someone explaining the reasons to you.)
It was a trying time for everybody the year The Company built its Extruded Expandrium plant in Pocatello.
The business office, the planning office, the architects, and top management finally got everything ready,
and construction was begun. Ben Franklyn was to be Plant Construction Superintendent, and Ted Shelby
and Stanley were his staff. Their task was to coordinate the efforts of the contractors, the mechanical
engineers, the electrical engineers, and the operations people.
They soon found this was not easy, and about a month after the ground was broken, Ben called a staff
meeting. “I don't like the way this project is going,” he told Ted and Stanley.
“That's my take too, Ben," said Ted. “As I see it, there's a problem in getting everybody together on
what's to be done."
"Yeah," added Stanley, “I can tell you exactly what's going on. One of the electrical engineers comes
and says that his group needs another generator installed. So you go to the mechanical engineers to see
about the structure to house it. They're busy working on the ventilating system, and anyhow, they can'
do a thing about the generator structure until the contractor hires some ironworkers. So you go to th
contractor. He's busy on the main building, and anyhow, he can't submit any plans until the operatior
people okay the specifications for the generator installation."
He continued, “So you go to the operations people. They're busy making modifications in the materia
flow charts, and anyhow, they can't pass on the specifications until the electrical engineers explain
them why they want the extra generator in the first place. All those people have their own priorities a
their own schedules, and none of them worries very much about the others.”
"I know all that, " growled Ben. "The question is how do we fix it?"
“But work starts at 7:30," says Stanley.
"I'd say we need to get together and talk it over. We need open communication," Ted suggested,
idea at all. Get together and get our signals straight, yeah, each morning before work.”
"Meetings!” says Ben. “We've wasted enough damn time already!” Ben doesn't like to have meetings
But after a minute's thought, “You know, Shelby, maybe that's not such a bad idea, no, not such a bra
"Well, an hour should be enough,” says Ben. “We'll start at 6:30.” And almost absentmindedly, "Yeah
"Now just a minute, Ben," says Ted, who doesn't like meetings that much, "if we can't get
together now, we certainly can't get them together when we're all half asleep.”
Ben schedules a series of meetings every morning at 6:30 A.M. for the supervisors and engineers from
his various groups, and he notifies them that they are expected to be there. For two straight weeks they
6:30 ought to do it all right.
"Never you mind,” says Ben. “I know what I'm doing.
are there, and they are not happy. Still, they do manage to solve some of their problems,
The first meeting of the third week, Ben begins by saying, "I gotta tell
that I am real happy with the
progress we've been making. In fact, if things go OK today, I don't know that we really need to meet
Things go just great that day, and Ben skips a day on the meeting. The next meeting ends with Ben
saying, "It seems to me that we've got the next couple of days under control, so what do you say we
skip the meetings until next week. You've all got your marching orders, so let's see how things go, and
maybe we'll have a meeting next Monday morning.
service” that anybody had to attend for the duration of the project.
As it turned out, everything kept going so smoothly, that next Monday's meeting was the last “sunrise
Why did such a tactic work? Could Ben Franklyn do anything but generate animosity by requiring his
people to attend a meeting at 6:30 in the morning? Well
, in the first place, he demonstrated that he meant
business by showing up himself at all those meetings. In the second place, he made it quite apparent that
all they had to do to quit having those meetings was to get together and coordinate their efforts
The principle Ben used here we have termed negative reinforcement, that is, the removal of an unpleasant
situation contingent upon the production of the desired behavior. Ben wouldn't have appreciated the
psychologists' terminology, but he sure did understand the application of the principle.
1. How did Ben Franklyn use the principle of negative reinforcement to achieve his objective?
2. Why did negative reinforcement work better than punishment or positive reinforcement in this
3. How was Ben able to avoid hostility and anger throughout the "sunrise services?""
Can you think of similar examples from your own experience where a person of authority
used negative reinforcement? Was the individual as clever as Franklyn in arranging to deflect
personal criticism? Was he or she successful?
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