Scientific Management

A more WikiFriendly? name for the Ism associated with FredrickWinslowTaylor, which see.

The defining idea of SM is that all work is "just work", if you decompose it into small enough steps, which are then written down as a procedure which may be optimized then repeated indefinitely, by anyone, without error.

Another perspective is that all processes can be analyzed and improved upon. It's about applying knowledge to manual work. And tends not to apply to highly unstructured objectives (i.e. knowledge work).

ScientificManagement isn't the same as TayloristManagement. Its too broad a term for that. And Taylor didn't apply the ScientificMethod to all aspects of management. Sadly ScientificManagement will not be applied by most managers - it must look like SM to them (pun intended).

Unfortunately, Mr. Taylor used the term "Scientific Management" to describe his method. Although I understand the desire to reclaim the term, I am afraid it is too late and scientific management will mean Frederick Taylor's approach to most audiences. My advice is to accept the common use of the term and avoid getting caught in pointless definition debates.


This myth is perpetuated "to the pain" by SEI maturity levels and by ISO 9000, which propose to remove the unpredictable results associated with thinking by turning workers into paper shuffling, list checking automatons. It works nowhere as badly as it does in software.


Arguably, it's not a myth. It's fun to bash Taylor, but many of such arguments are misguided. Specialization & productivity improvement are at the heart of the 20th century boom. ScientificManagement is probably the biggest development in modern productivity improvement this past century (before Deming's ideas).

Works great for burgers, works horribly for software. But the crowd here is a skewed sample. --RobMandeville

Sure, Taylor destroyed craftsmenship in many an industry. So what? Craft a refrigerator if you'd like, I'll buy a Sub-Zero. Knowledge work (software) isn't as applicable to Taylor's theories, and attempts at doing so mainly the fault of businesspeople that don't know any better (not that many people do know better, knowledge worker productivity is a young field of research).

Taylor never had a problem with thinking, he had a problem with not thinking, or never trying to analyze / improve a process, something that was all too common when he began his studies.

Taylor was verbally brutal in dealing with workers, who he felt he had to coerce and brow beat into working per his plan. His analyses of process flows were a vast improvement over what was done before, however his time and motion studies (for which he is better known), were a disaster.

Could you provide a source? I find the above perspective is lacking context. Taylor's time & motion studies were most definitely not a disaster, according to any history of management I've studied.

If you can, dig up some business text books printed during the 1950s. These texts describe in great detail things like cutting secret compartments in books in order to hide stop watches to measure workers. They also describe how to measure individual subtasks, take the best time for each one, and total the best subtask times to determine the necessary time for the whole task. This is not a statistically correct operation and it is why I referred to the time and motion studies as a disaster.

(but they aren't Taylor's time and motion studies, are they? Surely he wasn't doing them in the 50s. These practices are defined as time and motion studies. They are part of his legacy.)

I agree that such acts are disasters. A parallel could be to the disastrous extreme interpretations of well-intended software methodologies (both traditional and agile). Or extreme interpretations of any specification of method.

Unfortunately, this was the standard practice for ScientificManagement and not an extreme one. Similarly, it is the standard practice with approaches like CMM that are the problem, not extreme ones.

Given the history of the economy in the 50s, it would be difficult to say it was a disaster.

As the rest of the world had its manufacturing base destroyed by World War II, anything the US business community did would succeed. There was no foreign competition and there was a large foreign market.
http://www2.cddc.vt.edu/digitalfordism/tandsm.html
CategoryManufacturing

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