The Call Center Professor

Division of mental labor violations

Violation One, No Thought to Capability

If we violate the Division of Labor by confusing the responsibilities of management with those of operations, we have no basis for assessing the capability of the facility. We in management can only ask operations to do what the facility is capable of doing. This way we can hold operations accountable for the correct and consistent running of the facility. Management must provide operations with a facility that is capable of producing the customer’s product.

Violation Two, Forced Capability

Good Trooper Award: If we violate the Division of Labor by trying to place the responsibility for strategic decisions on operations, we will not be able to meet customer demands, and we also make a more defective product than was necessary in the first place. The harder a good associate works with improper instructions (violating the Second Principle), the poorer the quality. Quality will continue to degenerate.

Violation Three, Poor Productivity

If we violate the Division of Labor on an extremely capable process, we will make the process, operation, or machine appear less capable than it really is, and we must conclude that we are not running this machine correctly and consistently. Instead, we must run the machine to its own personality as correctly and consistently as possible. We must not be lulled into accepting products that are only as good as the customer wants and allow the process to float inside the customer’s specification.

Violation Summary

We must guard against any violation of Second Principle — Division of Labor. A good associate who is put in the situation of having to run a facility with improper directions that violate the Second Principle is doomed to disaster. The better and more conscientious the employee, the worse the situation will become because the person will go to any lengths to carry out those improper directions.

The principle of Division of Labor will have just as profound an effect on decision-making as Adam Smith’s principles had on physical labor. The concepts in the following chart must be clearly understood, for without them, no improvement is possible.


If you would like to learn more about division of mental labor (decision-making), read chapter 3 of my book Optimize Your Operation.