Compiled by David Ferguson
Newsletter of the Gilbreth Network
Welcome to the current issue of The Quest, Vol. 4, No. 4, Winter 2000-01, published in January 2001. The Quest is published quarterly.
The Quest is published by and copyright David Ferguson.
Inside this issue:
Goodbye to a Dear Friend
Thanks to Our Supporters
That Bowling Ball on Your Neck
In the Gilbreth Tradition
Vol. 4, No. 4 Winter 2000-01
It is with deep sadness that we report that Dr. William Jaffe passed away this past September 25th. He succumbed to health problems, on which began about a year ago.
While I never had the chance to meet him in person, we had many long and enjoyable phone conversations and letters through these past years. He was a mentor for the Gilbreth Network and provided me with valuable guidance. He also supported us with donations as well as a wonderful article on his memories of Lillian Gilbreth.
He had a wonderful sense of humor, and our phone calls always ended with him sharing a joke or two. Even in our last conversation, in August, he still had that wit, despite his illness.
William Julian Jaffe was born March 22, 1910. He received a BS in Math and Physics from NYU, his MA, in Math, from Columbia Univ., an MS in Industrial Engineering and his ScD, in engineering, from NYU. From 1931-41, he was a consulting engineer, in private practice. During the war, (1941-5) served as a naval architect, in the US Navy and from 1946 to 1975, he was a professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He was a Fellow with: AAAS (Am. Assn. for Advancement of Science), ASME, IIE, SAM.
He was the author of a book on the management pioneer, L.P. Alford (L.P. Alford: The Evolution of Modern Industrial Management) as well as numerous articles. Some of these wonderful writings included reviews of the work of Dr. Lillian Gilbreth, as well as several co-written with Dr. Gilbreth.
Like Henry Towne and others in the early management movement, Dr. Jaffe found his interest in applying principles of engineering and science to management. Despite a long career, he never received proper recognition for this work. However, there is no denying that, like so many other teachers, he leaves a bedrock legacy with the many students he taught.
Dr. Jaffe cherished his association with Dr. Gilbreth. He first met her, during his schooling in engineering. They later attended many conferences together. Their friendship, in part, was strengthened by their common view of the need for the human factor in management.
As the epitome of the lack of the human factor, (Frederick Taylor) Dr. Jaffe was found of citing John Dos Passos' book, The Big Money. In it, Dos Passos writes of Taylor, on his deathbed, winding his watch. We can be sure that Dr. Jaffe passed with much warmer associations.
We are most grateful to those generous members, who responded to our request for donations, in the last issue of The Quest. Our members contributed a total of $750.00, bringing us out of the red, for 2000 and successfully funding 2001. We greatly appreciate your generosity. We have been asked to keep some donors anonymous. Our donor role is set up as follows: Therblig- $25; Motion Study- $50; One Best Way- $100 or more. As promised, all donations of $100 or more received a US Postal Service, First Day Cover, honoring Lillian Gilbreth.
For the Year 2000
Totals for All Years
Total for All Years
One Best Way
For the Year 2000
The Boren Foundation (Rebecca Boren)
Institute of Industrial Engineers
Total for All Years
Frank Gilbreth, Jr.
Ben Graham, Jr.
Joseph M. Juran
Note: In the last issue, I alerted readers to the inherent safety issues in the new scooter fad. Since that article was written, reports of children being injured on these scooters continue to develop, including one, close to home. My granddaughter came to Thanksgiving dinner, with her arm in a cast, from a scooter accident. This was a little too prophetic for me.
Frank Gilbreth once said he thought people should learn about Motion Study in school, so that they could apply it both at work and at home. Indeed, his children, to this day, still remember the lessons in efficiency he taught.
I spend most of my time training groups and individuals in ergonomics, so that they can reduce fatigue and prevent cumulative injuries (aka: Repetitive Strain Injuries). Most people I talk to have no idea how the mechanics of their bodies work. So, let's start at the top.
For the average person, the head weighs in the range of 12-16 pounds; about the same weight range as a bowling ball. If you happen to have a bowling ball at home, take it out and place on your palm, with your palm facing up and by your shoulder. It's heavy, but since you're holding it straight up, the force is largely a downward and supported by the bones/tendons in your arm
Now, extend your arm out, until your elbow is at about a 90 degree angle. You can feel a strong muscle tension as you try to support it using muscle tension. In the same way, when your head is erect, muscle tension is neutral and hence, we call this a "neutral position." Frank Gilbreth called these "natural positions."
When your head/neck is bent for long periods of time, (such as doing long hours of hand writing or reading, you may experience a stiff or sore neck. If you repeat this process, day in and day out, you could develop a condition such as Neck Torsion Syndrome, which is partly related to a low level whiplash people get when they're hit from behind in a car.
Some causes of neck problems can be: performing detailed work at a desk, such as assembly work or handwriting. Also, if you have the habit of keeping a telephone cradled between your head and shoulder, problems can develop. Studies have identified a similar problem with violinists.
In his work in Germany, Frank Gilbreth saw this problem with workers inspecting light bulb filaments. Prior to his modifications, workers would bend their heads back, holding light bulbs up in the air, so the overhead lights would let the workers see if the filament was properly attached. Not only did this require constant extension of the head (bent backwards), but the arm holding the light bulb also got fatigued. Frank's solution was brilliantly simple. He arranged for the light bulbs to be placed on a conveyor. Then, each inspector sat in front of a lighted panel, where they could watch the bulbs go in front of the panel light, and inspect the filaments. This eliminated the neck bending and the need to hold the bulbs up to the ceiling lights.
A similar solution, for the diehard telephone cradeler is the use of a telephone headset. Models are readily available for wired and wireless phones, as well as cell phones. They have a lightweight headband, with an ear piece and microphone. Not only does the headset allow you to hold your head erect (in a neutral position), you now have both hands free to write things down or look up information on your computer. As with Frank Gilbreths light bulb inspection improvements, the telephone headset not only reduces neck problems, but improves your efficiency.
Along the same lines, when setting up your computer, the top edge of the monitor screen should be even with or slightly below your sitting eye height. This allows your head to remain erect and also reduces eye fatigue (by the way, for the average, 15 to 17 inch screen, you should sit about 20 to 24 inches away from the screen).
A major source of neck tension/stress is reading. To reduce this neck stress, you should adjust your lighting and reading material so that it causes the least amount of bend in the neck. For example, using a book prop/easel can greatly reduce neck tension.
Also regarding reading in general, one of the major contributors to neck stress is poor vision. People with poor vision tend to crane their neck forward, in what I call a pigeon neck posture. If you ever start experiencing neck soreness, particularly if it's combined with headaches, have your eyes checked.
There are many other ways you can reduce neck strain, in your daily activities. If you just think of trying to balance that bowling ball, you'll be amazed at the changes you can improvise.
Four year old Samantha Crabtree, of Richmond Virginia and the Gilbreth Network want to say a big thanks to Alex Weinstein, an inventor from Richmond, Virginia. Samantha, a real cutie, was born with a birth defect called arthogryposis, which has caused a malformation in the bone structure and muscle mass of her arms, limiting her range of motion.
Until Mr. Weinstein put his inventive genius to work, Samantha couldn't bring a spoon to her mouth, to feed herself. Now, as with bricklaying, before Frank Gilbreth designed his system, one would certainly admit that little has been done to improve the spoon since our distant ancestors stopped eating soup with their fingers.
We can also say that, like the Gilbreths, Mr. Weinstein took advantage of gravity. The spoon mechanism, which is held in the hand, locks in place (is rigid) when it scoops up food. Then, a counterbalance, attached to a push rod, uses gravity to keep the spoon level, as Samantha brings the spoon to her mouth.
The spoon, which weighs 7 ounces, is ideal for people with cerebral palsy or Parkinson's, where maintaining steady muscle control is difficult. In Samantha's case, even this 7 ounces was too heavy, so her therapist attached it to what looks like a foam rubber strawberry, to act as a flexible support.
Called the SteadySpoon, already, about 150,000 units have been sold throughout the world. Alex Weinstein, a graduate of VMI, first applied his inventiveness to the aircraft industry, but frustrated with the red tape of big business, he turned his attention to items in the home.
Just as with the many innovations the Gilbreths developed for the disabled, the SteadySpoon provides the ultimate independence for people. As reflected in the delight of little Samantha: "I eat at home all by myself."
We all owe a big thanks to Alex Weinstein, who has helped thousands of people become more independent. I know the Gilbreths are smiling down on you.
Here are a few corrections for the article, That Most Famous Dozen. Thanks to Dan Gilbreth for calling my attention to them. First, while Dan Gilbreth may have moved from Montclair, he is by no means retired, and still operates his Export Business-the man won't quit. Contrary to previous information, both of the Gilbreth lighthouses, on Nantucket, still survive. Finally, Martha had 5 children, not 4, as I reported (I told you it was hard to keep count).
Work Simplification is the modern decedent of Motion Study and Efficiency. The Ben Graham Corp. offers classes this year around the country. During the first half of the year, classes are being offered in Tampa, Florida-- Dayton, Ohio- Irvine, Calif.-& Atlanta, Georgia. You can find dates and locations by contacting The Ben Graham Corp. at
(937) 667-3380, FAX (937) 667-8690 or go to their web site at: www.worksimp.com.
Kelly Lankford, a student of Dr. Daniel Wren (at the University of Oklahoma), has competed a really big job, as part of her interest in the Gilbreths' work. She has made the job of conducting research much easier, by creating a Finding Guide for the four reels of the Gilbreth Collection microfilm.
To back up for a second, many years ago, Bell and Howell created a four reel set of documents and images on microfilm, of selected documents in the Gilbreth archive collection at Purdue University. While this was not a complete copy of all the documents, the microfilms give you an excellent overview of documents from various topics in the collection. The images were listed under various topics, but if you wanted to find specific information, it was a daunting task.
Thanks to Ms. Lankford, you can now search her 15 page finding guide and locate any number of specific and related topics. Just as the existing finding guide, for the entire Gilbreth archive is a valued asset, the microfilm guide will save hours of searching.
The major advantage of the Gilbreth microfilms is the fact that students researching the Gilbreths don't need to travel to Purdue to do their studies. These microfilms can be found in a number of college/university libraries and are also still available for purchase through UMI. Indeed, UMI owes Ms. Lankford a big 'thank you' for her work.
Let's hope that this latest effort can help to prevail on UMI to transfer the images to a computer CD-ROM format. After all, the market for a CD-ROM would be thousands of times greater, since it could be used at home instead of just at the library. Besides, microfilm, even with a guide, is time consuming to use and makes lousy photocopies.
To obtain a copy of the Finding Guide, your can write Dr. Daniel Wren: e-mail: [omitted] or write him at Price College of Business, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019. Also, you can obtain a copy of the current set of microfilms through UMI.
— from the website The Gilbreth Network Online. Reformatted but unedited. All rights remain with the author and/or publisher.
It can be assumed that all physical and web addresses in this document are obsolete.