Edmund Burke on TQM

http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/history/virtual/portrait/burke.jpgIf you’ll allow me my fancy, it occured to me that, mutatis mutandis, Edmund Burke might have been contrasting the slow cumulative progress of TQM or the Toyota Production System nicely written up by James Suroweki here, with more ‘dynamic’ (and often less successful) methods of American super CEOs.

But you may object “1t seems as if it were the prevalent opinion in Paris, that an unfeeling heart, and an undoubting confidence, are the sole qualifications for a perfect legislator. Far different an my ideas of that high office. The true lawgiver ought to have a heart full of sensibility. He ought to love and respect his kind, and to fair himself. It may be allowed to his temperament to catch his ultimate object with an intuitive glance ; but his movements towards it ought to be deliberate. Political arrangement, as it is a work for social ends, is to be only wrought by social means. There mind must conspire with mind. Time is required to produce that union of minds which alone can produce all the good we aim at. Our patience will achieve more than our force. If I might venture to appeal to what is so much out of fashion in Paris, I mean to experience, I should tell you, that in my course I have known, and, according to my measure, have co-operated with great men ; and I have never yet seen any plan which has not been mended by the observations of those who were much inférieur in understanding to the person who took the load in the business. By a slow but well-sustained progress, the effect of eacli step is watched ; the good or ill success of the first gives light to us in the second ; and so, from light to light, we are conducted with safety through the whole series. We see that the
parts or the system do not clash. The evils latent in the most promising contrivances are provided tor as they arise. One advantage is as little as possible sacrificed to another. We compensate, we reconcile, we balance. We are enabled to unite into a consistent whole the various anomalies and contending principles that are found in the minds and affairs of men.

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15 years ago

A good and proper fancy, I think, Nicholas. They seem wholly admirable sentiments, whether applied to the workplace, politics or indeed any other social endeavour.

15 years ago

This is flawed but may apply where a contrivance (say, the internal combustion engine) is already invented. The history of the West is the history of the competition of strong narratives. Burke despises ‘party’ as much as Parkes would a century later avoid such labels. The irony is that Burke – an Irish intellectual – derives his franchise from the death of Charles I.