ARG-099

The following is a recommendation from the personnel director to the president of Acme Publishing Company.

"Many other companies have recently stated that having their employees take the Easy Read Speed-Reading Course has greatly improved productivity. One graduate of the course was able to read a 500-page report in only two hours; another graduate rose from an assistant manager to vice president of the company in under a year. Obviously, the faster you can read, the more information you can absorb in a single workday. Moreover, Easy Read would cost Acme only $500 per employee—a small price to pay when you consider the benefits. Included in this fee is a three-week seminar in Spruce City and a lifelong subscription to the Easy Read newsletter. Clearly, to improve productivity, Acme should require all of our employees to take the Easy Read course."


Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the advice and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the advice.


In this letter of recommendation, the writer proposes that the Easy Read Speed-Reading Course is behind the improved productivity at many companies, as two graduates of the course have benefited considerably, seeing significant improvements in reading speed and receiving promotion respectively. Thus, the writer recommends that, in order to increase overall productivity at Acme Publishing Company, the company should pay for their employees to attend the course. While having employees attend said speed reading course could potentially be beneficial, through close examination of the letter, it is evident that certain pieces of the writer’s argument lack fundamental evidence.

To begin with, in addition to attending a specialized speed reading class, there are myriad other ways in which people can improve their reading skills, so the company needs additional evidence to determine if the speed reading skills of the employees have a direct correlation to the classes in which they participated. If, for example, some of the employees acquired speed reading skills via other sources, such as informative books or videos on the internet and found these resources to be more helpful than the course, there would then be a discrepancy as to whether or not it would be worthwhile and cost efficient to spend time and money on the course. In addition, the company should also examine the reading materials with which the employees were provided, as employees would be able to read simple texts at a faster pace than more complicated, in-depth ones. Contrarily, if the speed reading course is truly the impetus behind reading improvement among employees, and the provided reading materials vary in complexity, then the company could potentially reap future benefits by investing in this course; therefore, evidence proving that the speed reading course is truly behind the increase in reading skills of employees is crucial to the company’s final decision. Likewise, we need evidence to figure out what the true reasons are behind the promotion of the graduate mentioned in the prompt. If the graduate got promoted due to his exceptional performance, and the promotion was right at the end of the reading course, then the association made between the promotion and the course is merely a coincidence.

Furthermore, even if the speed reading course is ameliorating the reading skills of other companies’ employees, we still need to ascertain whether the improvement found in the employees who have already participated in the course will manifest itself in other employees, especially in those who work at Acme. Perhaps this speed reading course has been useful to employees at other companies—promoting improved speed reading skills—but, before a final decision is made, Acme needs to pose questions, like could this course truly enhance reading skills of the employees, could results at Acme mirror those of other companies, and could the course boost overall productivity of the company. If the answers to the above questions are all “Yes,” then the suggestion would be worthy of consideration; however, if any of the answer is “No,” the company shouldn’t be hasty when making their final decision.

Additionally, we need more information regarding other costs accompanying the course. The speed reading course, costing $500 per employee, provides the employees with a three week seminar and a lifelong subscription to Easy Read newsletter; however, there are also some unseen costs that the company needs to take into consideration, such as how to manage without these employees, and who will work while the employees are away. In the same vein, will employees actually use the lifelong subscription to Easy Read newsletter, whose cost is included in the $500. If some employees only choose to attend the seminar in Spruce City, and don’t end up using the subscription, will the cost of the course still be reasonable? If there isn’t anyone to complete the employees’ work while they are gone, or the employees don’t use the lifelong subscription, then the course would not be that worthwhile, the writer’s suggestion would be invalidated.


Lastly, even if the speed reading course is truly helpful in regard to improving reading skills and the opportunity costs of the course are all taken into consideration, there is still room for discussion regarding which employees should attend the course. There are, undoubtedly, many different workers at the company, but not all of them require speed reading skills, like interns, printing workers, cleaning workers, etc., so the company should first decide which employees would benefit from the course, then see if said employees would be willing to participate in the seminar. Without evidence showing which employees’ work would benefit by the course, the company could end up sending all or many of their employees to attend the course and allocate an exorbitant amount of money to do so. If this were to be the case, the company would not reap all of the expected benefits of the course, and the writer’s proposition would be weakened.


To conclude, while the writer’s suggestion to send employees to attend the above-mentioned speed reading course could prove to be beneficial to the company in the future, the company still needs to accumulate more evidence to support this recommendation, such as effectiveness of the program, applicability of the method in Acme, and opportunity cost of the course. Additionally, the company should contemplate over which employees would benefit the most from attending the course. The above-mentioned evidence will be critical to the company’s final consensus.

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