Well folks, as a special treat I have decided to revisit the first ever post that went up on this blog all the way back in January of 2007, I have slightly ammended a few sentances here and there but the post is for the most part identical.
I was recently involved in helping design an eCommerce website that is being put forward for a grant proposal. During the process of designing the interface, I noticed that above all - even more than complaining about things - I enjoy looking for the most efficient ways of doing things.
“A man who is fit to handle pig iron as a regular occupation is that he shall be so stupid and so phlegmatic that he more nearly resembles in his mental make-up the ox than any other type. The man who is mentally alert and intelligent is for this very reason entirely unsuited to what would, for him, be the grinding monotony of work of this character. Therefore the workman who is best suited to handling pig iron is unable to understand the real science of doing this class of work."
I have worked in only one real job so far in my life and that was in Marks and Spencer, and I have witnessed the problem posed by lack of incentives first hand, Taylor from what I can see was entirely correct. For instance in this store we knew that if we just worked a little faster than the mentally dim guy who turned up about only half of his allotted days we’d be safe in our jobs.
I guess I do mostly agree with what the reader says, Taylor did have a rather cynical view of workers, and the do as I say method does indeed throttle innovation. Firstly I suppose I am trying to express the business value of what his theories brought about, NOT whether his theories left a warm fuzzy feeling in the hearts of the workers. I suppose it is worth noting that when Taylor came up with these theories England was a major manufacturing nation, and of course in more recent time the more developed countries have seen their manufacturing industries move to the likes of China etc.
Taylorism in its raw form is obviously not applicable to some of the new more creative industries in operation in the western world – However as unpalatable as it may be, for manufacturing jobs this approach is probably as close to perfect as you are going to get. Mining, sewing pieces of fabric together, operations robots that make cars, packaging things etc etc do not require high levels of innovation from staff, Taylorism offered staff much higher wages than competitors could offer, and much better working conditions than competitors could offer, while making much greater profits than the competitors. And although his methods do not result in a workers paradise, all things are relative.