Nicmar thoughts and Theories of



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NICMAR

Thoughts and Theories of

Scientific Management

Submitted By:

Sudhir Kabra (221077)

Kirti Kaushal (221081)

Mukul Mishra (221097)

Abhishek Navander (221111)

National Institute of Construction

Management and Research

Thoughts and Theories of

Scientific Management


Scientific Management is a term coined in 1910 to describe the system of industrial management created and promoted by Frederick W. Taylor (1856– 1915) and his followers. Though Taylor had used the term informally to describe his contributions to factory or "shop" management, Morris L. Cooke, a friend and professional associate, and Louis Brandeis, a prominent attorney, deliberately chose the adjective "scientific" to promote their contention that Taylor's methods were an alternative to railroad price increases in a rate case they were preparing for the Interstate Commerce Commission. The term also came to mean any system of organization that clearly spelled out the functions of individuals and groups. With even less fidelity to the original meaning, it has been used to describe any situation where jobs are subdivided and individuals perform repetitive tasks.

Origins

Early attempts to study behaviour in organizations came from a desire by industrial efficiency experts to answer this question: What can be done to get workers to do more work in less time? It is not surprising that attempts to answer this question were made at the beginning of the twentieth century, since this was a period of rapid industrialization and technological change in the United States. As engineers attempted to make machines more efficient, it was natural to focus efforts on the human side—making people more productive, too.

The nineteenth-century factory system was characterized by ad hoc organization, decentralized management, informal relations between employers and employees, and casually defined jobs and job assignments. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, increased competition, novel technologies, pressures from government and labour, and a growing consciousness of the potential of the factory had inspired a wide-ranging effort to improve organization and management. The focus of this activity was the introduction of carefully defined procedures and tasks. Historians have labelled these innovations "systematic management."

The central figure in this movement was the American engineer, inventor, and management theorist Frederick W. Taylor. Born in 1856 to an aristocratic Philadelphia family, Taylor started his career in the machine shop of the Midvale Steel Company in 1878, rose rapidly, and began to introduce novel methods. In the next decade he devised numerous organizational and technical innovations, including a method of timing workers with a stopwatch to calculate optimum times. After a brief career as the manager of a paper company, Taylor became a self-employed consultant, devoted to improving plant management.

During these years Taylor, an 1883 engineering graduate of the Stevens Institute of Technology, also became a major figure in the engineering profession, whose adherents sought an identity based on rigorous formal education, mutually accepted standards of behaviour, and social responsibility. In factories, mines, and railroad yards, engineers rejected the experiential knowledge of the practitioner for scientific experimentation and analysis. They became the principal proponents of systematic management.

In the 1890s, Taylor became the most ambitious and vigorous proponent of systematic management. As a consultant he introduced accounting systems that permitted managers to use operating records with greater effectiveness, production systems that allowed managers to know more precisely what was happening on the shop floor, time studies to determine what workers were able to do, piece-rate systems to encourage employees to follow instructions, and many related measures. Between 1898 and 1901, as a consultant to the Bethlehem Iron Company (later Bethlehem Steel), Taylor introduced all of his systems and engaged in a vigorous plan of engineering re-search. This experience was the capstone of his creative career. Two developments were of special importance. His discovery of "high-speed steel," which improved the performance of metal cutting tools, assured his fame as an inventor, and his efforts to introduce systematic methods led to an integrated view of managerial innovation. By 1901, Taylor had fashioned scientific management from systematic management.

As the events of Taylor's career indicate, systematic management and scientific management were intimately related. They had common roots, attracted the same kinds of people, and had the same objectives. Their differences also stand out. Systematic management was diffuse and utilitarian, a number of isolated measures that did not add up to a larger whole. Scientific Bethlehem, Taylor resolved to devote his time and ample fortune to promoting both. His first extensive report on his work, "Shop Management," published in 1903 in the journal of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, portrayed an integrated complex of systematic ma Scientific management, also called Taylorism or the Classical Perspective, is a method in management theory that determines changes to improve labour productivity. The idea was first coined by Frederick Winslow Taylor in The Principles of Scientific Management. Taylor believed that decisions based upon tradition and rules of thumb should be replaced by precise procedures developed after careful study of an individual at work.

In management literature today, the greatest use of the concept of Taylorism is as a contrast to a new, improved way of doing business. In political and sociological terms, Taylorism can be seen as the division of labour pushed to its logical extreme, with a consequent de-skilling of the worker and dehumanisation of the workplace.


Overview

General approach


  • Select workers with appropriate abilities for each job.

  • Training for standard task.

  • Planning work and eliminating interruptions.

  • Wage incentive for increase output

  • Standard method for performing each job.

Contributions


  • Scientific approach to business management and process improvement

  • Importance of compensation for performance

  • Began the careful study of tasks and jobs

  • Importance of selection and training

Elements


  • Labour is defined and authority/responsibility is legitimised/official

  • Positions placed in hierarchy and under authority of higher level

  • Selection is based upon technical competence, training or experience

  • Actions and decisions are recorded to allow continuity and memory

  • Management is different from ownership of the organization

  • Managers follow rules/procedures to enable reliable/predictable behaviour

Mass production methods


Taylorism is often mentioned along with Fordism, because it was closely associated with mass production methods in manufacturing factories. Taylor's own name for his approach was scientific management. This sort of task-oriented optimisation of work tasks is nearly ubiquitous today in industry, and has made most industrial work menial, repetitive, tedious and depressing; this can be noted, for instance, in assembly lines and fast-food restaurants. Ford's arguments began from his observation that, in general, workers forced to perform repetitive tasks work at the slowest rate that goes unpunished. This slow rate of work (which he called "soldiering", but might nowadays be termed by those in charge as "loafing" or "malingering" or by those on the assembly line as "getting through the day"), he opined, was based on the observation that, when paid the same amount, workers will tend to do the amount of work the slowest among them does: this reflects the idea that workers have a vested interest in their own well-being, and do not benefit from working above the defined rate of work when it will not increase their compensation. He therefore proposed that the work practice that had been developed in most work environments was crafted, intentionally or unintentionally, to be very inefficient in its execution. From this he posited that there was one best method for performing a particular task, and that if it were taught to workers, their productivity would go up.

Taylor introduced many concepts that were not widely accepted at the time. For example, by observing workers, he decided that labour should include rest breaks so that the worker has time to recover from fatigue. He proved this with the task of unloading ore: workers were taught to take rest during work and output went up.

Today's armies employ scientific management. Of the key points listed; a standard method for performing each job, select workers with appropriate abilities for each job, training for standard task, planning work and eliminating interruptions and wage incentive for increase output. All but wage incentives for increased output are used by modern military organizations. Wage incentives rather appear in the form of skill bonuses for enlistments.

Division of labour


Unless people manage themselves, somebody has to take care of administration, and thus there is a division of work between workers and administrators. One of the tasks of administration is to select the right person for the right job:

Now one of the very first requirements for 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. (Taylor 1911, 59)

This view – match the worker to the job – has resurfaced time and time again in management theories.

Influence of Taylorism

Taylor’s approaches and his thoughts influenced several people and organisations during his time. For several years, a powerful scientific management movement prevailed in USA and some countries of the west. The remuneration and the productivity of the workers also improved significantly. Some of the notable management authors and thinkers like Frank Gilbreth, Henry Gantt, Emerson and Barth developed and refined Taylor’s ideas and approaches. A new scientific culture of work management, time and motion studies, simplification and standardization, production planning and control etc. took place in USA.

Henry L. Gantt

Gantt- like Taylor, a Mechanical Engineer- joined Taylor at the Midvale Steel Company in 1887. He stayed with Taylor in his various assignments until 1901, when he formed his own consulting engineering firm. Like Taylor, he emphasized the need for developing a mutuality of interest between management and labour, a “harmonious cooperation.” In doing this, he stressed the importance of teaching, of developing an understanding of systems on the part of both labour and management, and of appreciating that “in all problems of management the human element is the most important one.”

Gantt is perhaps best known for his development of graphics methods of describing plans and making possible better managerial control. He emphasized the importance of time, as well as cost, in planning and controlling work. This led eventually to the famous Gantt chart which is in wide use today and was the forerunner of such modern techniques as the Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT). The Gantt chart is regarded by some social historians as the most important social invention of the twentieth century.

Frank and Lillian Gilbreth

The ideas of Taylor were also strongly supported and developed by the famous husband and wife team of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth. Frank Gilbreth at the age of 27 in 1895 was a chief superintendent of a building contracting firm and became a building contractor on his own shortly thereafter. During this period, he became interested in wasted motions in work; by reducing the number of bricklaying motions from 18 to 5, he made possible the doubling of a bricklayer’s productivity with no greater expenditure of effort. His contracting firm work soon gave way largely to consulting on improvement of human productivity. After meeting Taylor in 1907, he combined his ideas with Taylor’s to put scientific management into effect.

Lillian Gilbreth was one of the earliest industrial psychologists and received her doctor’s degree in this field in 1915. After her husband’s untimely death in 1924, she carried on his consulting business and was widely acclaimed as the “first lady of management” throughout her long life, which ended in 1972 when she was 93. Frank Gilbreth long emphasized that in applying scientific management principles, we must look at workers first and understand their personalities and needs. Gilbreth came to the conclusion that it is not the monotony of work that causes so much worker dissatisfaction but, rather, management’s lack of interest in workers.

The Diffusion of Scientific Management

After 1901, Taylor devoted his time to publicizing his work and attracting clients, whom he would refer to as trusted lieutenants, such as Henry L. Gantt, Carl G. Barth, Morris L. Cooke, and Frank B. Gilbreth. Taylor and his followers emphasized the importance of introducing the entire system. Most manufacturers, however, only wanted solutions to specific problems. They were particularly drawn to time study and the incentive wage, seemingly the most novel features of Taylor's system, which they had hoped would raise output and wean employees from organized labour. Taylor and his followers had little sympathy for unions and were slow to realize the implications of this course.

By 1910, the metal trade unions and the American Federation of Labour (AFL) had become outspoken enemies of scientific management and Taylor and his followers were embroiled in a controversy that would continue for another five years. These developments had a substantial influence on Taylor's efforts to publicize his work.

To respond to opportunities like the 1911 rate case hearings, as well as the union attacks, Taylor (with Cooke's assistance) prepared a new account of his system that he called The Principles of Scientific Management (1911). He embraced the term "scientific management," made time study its centrepiece, and used it as a metaphor for the system as a whole.

Taylor argued that he had discovered universal "principles" of management:


  • The substitution of scientific for "rule-of-thumb" methods

  • The "scientific selection and training of the workmen,"

  • An equal division of work between managers and workers. To implement the principles successfully, managers and workers had to undergo a "complete revolution in mental attitude."

The Principles of Scientific Management was an immediate success. Its simplicity, colourful anecdotes, and insistence that the details of factory management were applicable to other activities captured the imaginations of readers. Translated into many languages, it became the best-selling business book of the first half of the twentieth century.

Two additional developments greatly extended Taylor's influence in the following years. First, other writers restated his principles in more inclusive terms and explored their implications. The most notable example was Henri Fayol, a prominent French mine manager who discussed the functions of top executives in several technical papers and in General and Industrial Administration (1916). Though Fayol operated independently of Taylor, he demonstrated that Taylor's ideas applied to the entire organization, not just the factory. Second, a growing corps of consultants installed scientific management in industry. Gantt, Barth, Cooke, Gilbreth, and others closely associated with Taylor initially dominated this activity, but outsiders such as Harrington Emerson and Charles Bedaux, who took a more flexible and opportunistic approach to the application of Taylor's methods, became increasingly popular.



Scientific Management in Industry

Between 1901 and 1915, the year Taylor died, his close associates introduced scientific management in at least 181 American factories. Some of the plants were large and modern, like those of the Pullman Railcar and Remington Typewriter companies; others were small and technologically primitive. Most of the 181 companies fell into one of two broad categories: first were those whose activities required the movement of large quantities of materials between numerous work stations (such as textile mills, railroad repair shops, and automobile plants); the second group consisted of innovative firms, mostly small, that were already committed to managerial innovation. Executives at these latter firms were attracted to Taylor's promise of social harmony and improved working conditions.

The history of scientific management in these 181 plants provides little support for the contention, common to many later accounts, that Taylor's central concern was the individual employee. Consultants devoted most of their time and energies to machine operations, tools and materials, production schedules, routing plans, and record systems. In one-third of the factories, these activities generated such controversy that time and motion studies were never undertaken.

In others, such as the Franklin automobile company and several textile mills, the installation consisted almost exclusively of improvements in production planning and scheduling. As a result, one-half or more of all employees were passive participants. They may have experienced fewer delays, used different tools, or worked for less powerful supervisors, but their own activities were unaffected. Taylor promised that those workers directly affected would receive higher wages and have less reason for conflict with their supervisors. Most assessments of these claims have concluded that Taylor promised more than he could deliver.

The experiences of the 181 firms suggest that union leaders and other critics also exaggerated the dangers of scientific management. One example was the argument that skilled workers would lose their autonomy and opportunities for creativity. In the relatively few cases where skilled workers were timed and placed on an incentive wage, they devoted more time to their specialties, while less-skilled employees took over other activities. Critics were on firmer ground when they argued that scientific management would lead to speedups, rate cuts, and the elimination of employees whose skills or motivation were below average. In theory, only the most inferior workers had to worry. But many employers were less scrupulous or less patient. They gave lip service to Taylor's idea of an interrelated whole, but looked to the employees for immediate results. The association of time study with rate cuts sparked a famous strike at Watertown Arsenal in 1911, and was the apparent cause of strikes at the Joseph and Feiss Company and at three American Locomotive Company plants. Outside the Taylor circle the problem was even more widespread.

In summary, the available data from these early examples suggest that

(1) First-line supervisors lost much of their authority to higher-level managers and their staffs;

(2) The proportion of the work day devoted to production increased as delays were eliminated;

(3) Fewer decisions depended on personal judgments, biases, and subjective evaluations;

(4) Individual jobs were more carefully de-fined and some workers exercised less discretion;

(5) In most cases earnings rose, but there were enough exceptions to blur the effect;

(6) The level of skill required in production did not change, though the most highly skilled employees, like foremen, lost some of their de facto managerial functions;

(7) Some unskilled jobs disappeared as improved scheduling and accounting reduced the need for labourers.

Though the initial impact of scientific management would have seemed surprisingly modest to a contemporary reader of The Principles, in retrospect it is clear that Taylor and his associates provided a forecast and a blueprint for changes that would occur in most large industrial organizations over the next quarter century.

After 1915, scientific management—usually features of scientific management rather than the Taylor system—spread rapidly in the United States. There were undoubtedly wide variations in practice and, in the work of Charles Bedaux and others like him, efforts to exploit time study and the incentive wage to achieve immediate cost reductions at the workers' expense. But the surviving evidence suggests substantial continuity between the early experiences, reviewed above, and those of the 1910s and 1920s. One ironic measure of this continuity was the alliance between organized labour and scientific management that emerged after Taylor's death. By the mid-1910s, union leaders, with considerable prodding from Taylor's more liberal followers like Morris Cooke—realized that they had more to gain than lose from scientific management. Experience had shown that supervisors, not workers, were the real targets of scientific management and that the structured relationships characteristic of scientifically managed plants was compatible with collective bargaining.

Criticism


Applications of scientific management sometimes fail to account for two inherent difficulties:

  • It ignores individual differences: the most efficient way of working for one person may be inefficient for another;

  • It ignores the fact that the economic interests of workers and management are rarely identical, so that both the measurement processes and the retraining required by Taylor's methods would frequently be resented and sometimes sabotaged by the workforce.

Both difficulties were recognised by Taylor, but are generally not fully addressed by managers who only see the potential improvements to efficiency. Taylor believed that scientific management cannot work unless the worker benefits. In his view management should arrange the work in such a way that one is able to produce more and get paid more, by teaching and implementing more efficient procedures for producing a product.

Although Taylor did not compare workers with machines, some of his critics use this metaphor to explain how his approach to be made efficient by removing unnecessary or wasted effort. However, some would say that this approach ignores the complications introduced because workers are necessarily human: personal needs, interpersonal difficulties and the very real difficulties introduced by making jobs so efficient that workers have no time to relax. As a result, workers worked harder, but became dissatisfied with the work environment. Some have argued that this discounting of worker personalities led to the rise of labour unions.

It can also be said that the rise in labour unions is leading to a push on the part of industry to accelerate the process of automation, a process that is undergoing a renaissance with the invention of a host of new technologies starting with the computer and the Internet. This shift in production to machines was clearly one of the goals of Taylorism, and represents a victory for his theories.

However, tactfully choosing to ignore the still controversial process of automating human work is also politically expedient, so many still say that practical problems caused by Taylorism led to its replacement by the human relations school of management in 1930. Others (Braverman 1974) insisted that human relations did not replace Taylorism but that both approaches are rather complementary: Taylorism determining the actual organisation of the work process and human relations helping to adapt the workers to the new procedures.

However, Taylor's theories were clearly at the root of a global revival in theories of scientific management in the last two decades of the 20th century, under the moniker of 'corporate reengineering'. As such, Taylor's ideas can be seen as the root of a very influential series of developments in the workplace, with the goal being the eventual elimination of industry's need for unskilled, and later perhaps, even most skilled labour in any form, directly following Taylor's recipe for deconstructing a process. This has come to be known as commodification, and no skilled profession, even medicine, has proven to be immune from the efforts of Taylor's followers, the 'reengineers', who are often called derogatory names such as 'bean counters'.


Legacy


Scientific management was the first attempt to systematically treat management and process improvement as a scientific problem. With the advancement of statistical methods, the approach was improved and referred to as quality control in 1920s and 1930s. During the 1940s and 1950s, the body of knowledge for doing scientific management evolved into Operations Research and management cybernetics. In the 1980s we had total quality management, in the 1990s reengineering. Today's Six Sigma and Lean manufacturing could be seen as new names for scientific management. In particular, Shigeo Shingo, one of the creators of Lean Management who devoted his life to scientific management, says that the Toyota Production System and Japanese management culture in general should be seen as scientific management.

Peter Drucker sees Frederick Taylor as the creator of knowledge management, as the aim of scientific management is to produce knowledge about how to improve work processes. Although some have questioned whether scientific management is suitable only for manufacturing, Taylor himself advocated scientific management for all sorts of work, including the management of universities and government.

Scientific management has had an important influence in sports, where stop watches and motion studies rule the day. (Taylor himself enjoyed sports –especially tennis and golf – and he invented improved tennis racquets and improved golf clubs, although other players liked to tease him for his unorthodox designs, and they did not catch on as replacements for the mainstream implements.)

Conclusion

By the 1920s, self-conscious management, systematic planning, specialization of function, and highly structured, formal relationships between managers and workers had become the hallmarks of modern industry. These features of the twentieth-century factory system were the legacy of systematic management and especially of Taylor and his disciples, the most important contributors to the campaign for order and rationality in industry. In the process of reorganizing the factory they made scientific management a malleable symbol of the potential of modern organization for changing virtually every facet of contemporary life.



Case Study

  1. PATTERNS OF MANAGEMENT AT IBM

Thomas J. Watson, Jr.’s father, an admired industrialist in 1920s and 1930s, moved IBM into punch card business. Watson, Jr., moved IBM into the computer field and provided the vision leading to its fundamental growth against competition from giant companies such as General Electric, RCA, Honey-well and Remington Rand.

After World War II, IMB grew quickly because of the demand for accounting equipment using punch cards. But it was in the mid-1950s that computers, with their recognized calculating power, became the buzzword of time.

What made IBM so successful was not technical innovation but marketing and service. In the early days of computers, competitors were equal or better in providing hardware. But many competitors fell short when it came to installing and servicing the equipment.

The early computers were built around electronic tubes. A limiting factor was the need to find people to run them. To satisfy this need, IBM turned to universities for help. A new profession was born: programmers and systems engineers. Around 1958, working against the resistance of IBM engineers, Watson insisted that electronic tubes be replaced by transistors.

Watson attributes his success to selecting good people, integrating them into teams, providing financial incentives, being concerned about the people, and having open communication channels to them. The selection of people was based not on personal liking but on competence. Another IBM policy was to provide job security – a policy that dates back to the Great Depression. Employees, not just managers, were handsomely paid. Starting in 1955, the company offered stock options that made many of them rich.

Watson, Sr., built an organization culture that is similar to Japanese practices. Sales personnel had to wear shirts with starched collars. There was also a company song. But Watson, Jr., relaxed the rules. Still, the older and the younger Watsons were perfectionists, paying attention to details. The implicit principles were to value the individuals, make customers satisfied, and go out of one’s way to do the right thing.

To instil these values, one has to manage by example. Training is also required. Yet until 1950s, management training was rather primitive, compared with that at General Electric. In 1966, however, it was ruled that people, in order to manage, had to attend the management school. The early programs were based on Harvard’s case approach.

Another step creating a certain corporate culture was to establish an out-door policy. After employees had discussed their concerns with their managers, they could go to individuals at higher levels. In fact, Watson spent about a fifth of his time talking with people who “walked through the open door.” This policy, of course, results in open communication and counters the problems of top-management isolation so often found in companies.

Still another factor that contributed to the rather unique corporate culture was the elimination of piece-work. This reduced the distinction between white- and blue-collars workers. Also, starting in the late 1950s, all employees were paid salaries. In addition, employees began to receive medical coverage and other benefits. The company also provided for matching grants for contributions to schools and charities. These changes, too, helped to reduce the distinction between managers and non-managers.

IBM has been very successful. But in late 1989, IBM announced that because of changing market situations, it plans to restructure and cut 10,000 jobs. In 1991, John Akers, IBM’s CEO, announced additional restructuring of the organization.



  1. THE CASE OF TOYOTA, A STEP AHEAD SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT

Over 100 years ago Frederick Winslow Taylor’s time studies and “laws and principles” of scientific management changed how workers were paid, introduced a new division of labour and expanded and strengthened the role of management. Frank and Lillian Gilbreth’s motion studies focused on how the work was done, and how to eliminate unneeded, fatiguing steps in any process.

They wanted “flow” manufacturing to take place but they did not want workers to stop and think. And through their work productivity climbed substantially allowing Henry Ford to produce an automobile in four days from iron ore to the finished car being put onto the railroad cars. Modern manufacturing was born.

Both Taylor and the Gilbreth’s eliminated decision making processes from workers. They recognized that when workers were undecided and stopped to think tension and fatigue entered. Work was simplified and skills were automated. People were asked to “check their brains at the door.”

The pressure for solving problems was then placed on management. But in the process thousands of simple and small problems were neglected, quality suffered, worker’s dignity suffered, and the workplace was dehumanized.

Workers in the West did repetitive tasks and became attendants of machines. Taylor and Gilbreth wanted flow but workers here would stand and watch machines. It was deadly.

Dr. Shigeo Shingo, an independent consultant, and Taiichi Ohno, vice-president of production at Toyota, restudied the work of Taylor, Ford and the Gilbreth’s and clearly understood the power of flow manufacturing. They also discovered a powerful ‘missing ingredient,” the worker on the factory floor is really the expert on the job, rarely ever asked to be creatively involved in solving problems. To be internationally competitive this waste of human resources had to end.

Shingo and Ohno the creators of The Toyota Production System/Lean like Taylor and Gilbreth wanted both a productive workplace and flow manufacturing. They did not want the worker to stand, wait and attend machines. They wanted workers to use both hands and move continually working multi-machines in the factory.

“I have been to over 250 plants in these past twenty years. In America I still see people standing and watching machines. I have never seen this at Toyota”.

“How in the world can you expect to get continuous improvement without worker participation? How in the world can you attain six sigma without worker participation? How in the world can you expect to have a lean organization without full worker participation”? - Ohno

Impossible!

Many of you have run Kaizen Blitz activities and seen the success when people work on teams focused on value adding and the elimination of wastes. What makes the Kaizen Blitz successful and exciting is that you are getting teams of people working together to improve the process and solving problems.

The individual is almost hopeless in his/her ability to bring meaningful change. People are fearful and resist change. I meet so many people that have a million reasons why something should not be done.

As Lean was created at Toyota the worker was directly involved:


  1. Whenever a problem was detected the worker either pulled a chain or pushed a button to stop the line – yes, they stopped other workers from working. Imagine the power given to a worker to stop others from working. Toyota was serious. Defects will not be passed onto the customer. The worker was asked to immediately detect the cause of the problem, solve it and also get to the root cause so that the problem would not occur again. Toyota wanted the exact same “Flow” as Taylor and Gilbreth. They did not want the worker to think on the job except when a problem occurred. They realized that the worker on the floor has brains and that those brains were required to help solve problems.

  2. Toyota also recognized that many problems could not be solved immediately so they asked their workers to come up with small improvement ideas to help solve problems around their work area. In fact, Toyota was getting 70 ideas per worker per year in writing. And Toyota noted for making junk in 1960 became the world’s highest quality producer, in fact, the richest automotive company in the world. Today, Toyota’s stock is worth more than General Motors, Ford and Chrysler/Benz combined.

And it all happened as they involved every person at Toyota in continuous improvement activities.

Technicolor Corporation in Detroit two years ago received 250 suggestions with 113 implemented from around 1800 employees. This past year they received 16,999 with 7,443 implemented with no additional staffing to handle the ideas. They are small ideas and the person who came up with the idea is the one who normally implements them either themselves or in their work teams. Technicolor has saved over $10,000,000 from those ideas. And imagine how the worker feels about themselves when they are respected for their intelligence? And imagine how management now looks at those creative workers working for them.



Yes, you can have flow manufacturing and also a lively creative work environment.

Taylor and Gilbreth were necessary and a vital part of America’s success but you must update them. In order for us to compete with the Chinese and Indians, we must improve every worker’s skill level and also ask them to participate in creative problem solving. It is the only way that Lean will work. It is the only way to create a work environment for human beings.


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