Much like his contemporary, Henry Ford, Frederick Winslow Taylor was responsible for much of the work put into perfecting industrial efficiency and productivity practices.
Taylor, an American industrial engineer during the late 19th and early 20th century, is often credited as the father of scientific management (Frederick W. Taylor). The main focus of his work was to split industrial workers into two distinct groups: managers and laborers, and then to streamline efficiency and productivity through scientific reasoning (Frederick W. Taylor).
Dedicated to scientifically reworking the management techniques of his time, Taylor observed, experimented with, and advised and revised industrial workers (Rhodes). He reformulated the most efficient use of equipment, work space design and organization, and was also responsible for taking a drastically new look at cost-accounting and worker’s wage policies for industries (Rhodes).
Taylorism caused workers to lose a significant amount of their independence and skill. Individuals on the shop floor were under constant control and observation from their managers, assigned to a simplified, specific tasks, and were no longer responsible for their own tools or even their own method for completing assigned work (Frederick Winslow Taylor). Taylor’s system changed industrial work from specialized, skilled labor, into unthinking, robotic, supervised tasks (Frederick W. Taylor).
“It is only through enforced standardization of methods, enforced adaption of the best implements and working conditions, and enforced cooperation that this faster work can be assured. And the duty of enforcing the adaption of standards and enforcing this cooperation rests with management alone.”
-Frederick Winslow Taylor (Frederick W. Taylor)
Taylor argued that the “one best way” could be discovered through careful analysis of a worker’s process (Frederick W. Taylor). He is credited with developing the time and motion study; the most famous being an investigation into shovels used in a job (Frederick W. Taylor). After breaking the process down into individual components, Taylor would time each section to the hundredth of a minute, and he found that the most effective shovel load for ultimate efficiency and productivity was 21.5 pounds (Frederick W. Taylor).
“USSR 3079 – Metal Works”
Many of Taylor’s ideas were utilized by developing industries in the United States, Europe, and the Soviet Union as they sought to build themselves up in the booming industrialization period of the late 1800s, early 1900s and to better compete economically with foreign nations (Frederick W. Taylor).