Pal’chinskii worked as a consultant to the Soviet government after the 1917 revolution advising on a host of major projects, including Dneprostroi. He continued to read foreign technical literature widely — not to copy ideas, but to develop principles applicable to Russia. It was at this time he started to warn against prestige projects and advocate for smaller projects on the basis they were often more efficient than gigantic ones.
By 1926 Pal’chinskii’s research showed that the most efficient enterprises in the Soviet Union were not those with the most modern equipment but those that treated workers best. He advised Russian managers that concern for human beings “will bring more fruits than anything else” and that the rebuilding of Russian industry should be based on this and not a forced top down importation of foreign technology. The Soviet Union's 80 million workers he argued were a “non-utilised force compared to which all the other great natural riches of the country paled in significance.”
Pal’chinskii developed three key principles for managing transformations in an uncertain and unpredictable world and strongly urged leaders to adopt them.
Pal'chinskii's 3 Principles for Managing Transformations:
- Make plans but allow people locally to use their initiative to discover how it best fits their context
- When trying something new do it on a small enough scale that failure (which is inevitable) is survivable
- Create feedback loops free of delay and distortion to learn quickly from mistakes so you can adapt as you go.
Petr Pal’chinskii was arrested and executed in 1929.
source: The Ghost of the Executed Engineer. Technology and the Fall of the Soviet Union. Loren R. Graham (1993)
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