Story of Scientific Management Guru: Back to the Roots of Scientific Management with Frederick Winslow Taylor

While his name is not known to most people, his impact on the 20th century was quite profound. He is Frederick Winslow Taylor, a management theorist that focus on the labor process. He is the backbone of today’s management by the use of science. His works started blooming in an era after companies have become more than a mere limited project, but unlimited by the boundary of time and that in this time, industrialization is on the move.

Companies were growing in scope and racing to reap the benefits of industrialization. They were so starving in harvesting benefits of industrialization. In that time, companies need much more labor than ever to be able to produce products that made possible by the industrialization.However, even labor is many, a fundamental problem is emerging that needs an answer, how do we get labor to work more to ensure maximum output?

His works begin with many writings in the theory of work that mainly focusing on  finding the way of controlling the motion of workers to obtain highest maximum output for what company pay for wages.

Even all that he has created  is not fully acceptable in todays modern era but many of his concepts become a root for current management practice. His controversial concept such as the concept of soldiering that workers didn’t work hard enough is totally rejected by lean thinking that fundamentally held a strong believe that worker is good and therefore most of error come from engineer or the architect of the system that most of the time have to put to blame.

Soldiering held a believe that in a majority of cases the man deliberately plant to do as little as he possibly can to turn out far less work than he is well able to do in may instances to do not more than 1/3 or 1/2 of a proper day’s work. ~ Taylor

Proper day’s work is a maximum level of output humanly possible or  a fair day’s work. when worker is not physically possible to reach this, he fired them. He argued that soldiering was possible because company management does not even know how much work can be extracted from workers. once to make a stubborn man who refuse to make any improvement to achieve this fair days work he cut his wages.

Industriearbeiter Giesserei // foundry industry employees

Taylor’s goal was to take knowledge work from the worker and put it in the hands of management to be used as control of workers. He himself called this method as Scientific Management. However, his method on full reliance solely on management let to the born of shopfloor expert which is industrial engineer. However, as people said that too much is never good, the role of management in shopfloor is too dominating that even in the development of work instruction, management get a majority of decision on the content and organization of it which is fundamentally different than now

But his famous real contribution besides of his many controversial concept is his management theories and the concept of time study.

There are many and different ways for come at doing the same things, there is always one method and one implement which is better than any of the rest. and this one best method and one best implement can only be discovered through a scientific study of an analysis of all the methods in use.

He stated that no job is to simple or to complex. In fact, in he has spent 26 years only for figuring out the best way to cut metal. but in other examples, many simple works can be rationalized as well.

Some of his wise words are never more appropriate now compare to at his time:

We can see our forest vanishing, our water-powers going to waste.. the end of our coal and iron is in sight. But the larger waste of human effort, which go on everyday through such of our acts as are blundering, ill-directed or inefficient are less-visible, less tangible and all but vaguely appreciated.. ~ Frederick Taylor


Transformation to Sustainability : “Green” tagline is only for the Customers.

Several years ago, human was so interested in the extraction of nature to support the life of people in the earth. It was before the decreasing supply of nature due to over-extraction that the necessity to find alternative of sources to make the earth more sustainable take place. Today, we see in many places taglines of green living, sustainable earth or care nature that urge people to preserve and even cultivate again our nature that has been destructed by extraction without control.

plastic bag

This week, I went shopping as part of my regular “ weekly things to do” except, this time I got in into a very long queue line in the supermarket’s cashier. Then I realized that it is 5p.m. and as usual in this time many people going back from work and stop in supermarket for quick shopping for dinner or just grab some foods for their stock. In this long queue, I saw a plastic bag that I took the picture of it. During the queue, I reflected in my mind about how this plastic bag could be there in the supermarket, when people outside have put a large banners and costly commercials of how people should live by “going green”.

What caught me right away first of all is how the plastic bag could be there, but then having take a look into the detail, I could also see a text that stated Reduce Use of Plastic Bag..Refuse, Reuse, Recycle”. Those two reasons are quite provoking to start a post in this blog for it is an example of going to the wrong way from kaizen or continuous improvement. An example of a good and right  intention that wrongly planned as well as executed.

So, why not begin from looking at the supply chain. All products will have the same flow which basically begin from Supplier to Manufacturer to Logistics and at the end to Retailer that directly has contact with Customers that is us. Then, we have an issue that plastic bag is bad for the nature as we have seen before in the text located in the plastic bag ( “Reduce Use of Plastic Bag..Refuse, Reuse, Recycle”). From this, it is clear that the plastic bag is bad for nature, and that people should refuse it.

Then the question came up of why they place the decision on customers? Does customers do have bigger impacts to preserving nature by making choice of use or not use plastic bags?

I would say that if plastic bag is bad and customers should refuse it, then it should not be produced in the first place.

Supply Chain

By not producing plastic bag at all, customers will not be blamed for choosing plastic bag. Today, it seems like buying a plastic bag  is taboo for customers and plastic bag is the temptation that will always exist. It should not be like that, eliminating plastic bag from the early in supply chain could substantially decrease the problem since at the end of the day there is no plastic bag that could be bought by a customer.

Frankly, the current situation that happen is that customers go on shopping to a certain shop, they buy their product that they wish to buy, and then at the end either the cashier will ask “do you want a plastic bag ?” or in the cashier you can pick one. Either one you will have temptation to use plastic bag and most probably some people will somehow choose to use it.

Go Green. Hand with words cloud about environmental conservation

This is a system that has a flaw, if “green” means not using plastic bag, why you have plastic bag offered to you that tempted a customer to use it. Can you imagine one time, a customer that life 2 km from the shopping area and buy 3 kg of whatever it is and he/she has to carry all of his/her stuffs from the shopping area to his/her home by walking? it is certain for this type of person that if the plastic bag is offered to them, they will definitely use it.Additionally, it is not rare that some companies even put a blame on this poor guy by saying that if he knew already he has a pretty far distance to travel with huge amount of weight he should by himself be prepared by bringing a backpack or trolley.

But it seems still this solution has its flaw because since when the customer become a servant? customer is a king while the best is a partner. but it is not rational for the one who will sell product to customers to blame customers for their living condition.

It is true that apparently the existence of plastic bag is for helping this kind of person that really need to carry their stuffs. But, going green means not only customer being pushed by all the supply chain to act in terms of taking step in making a choice, but all of them that is inside the supply chain has to commit together in the green movement. Just imagine, if Supermarkets determined that they will not buy plastic bag from Logistics that is not green or not recyclable or biodegradable or even they will not use plastic at all and  buy other alternative bag, then there will be no customers that will be blame. Imagine that Logistics will also commit of not delivering these plastics and later the manufacturer will not produce it and at the end the suppliers will not supply it. Then there will be no finger pointing about who is wrong because the plastic bag simply do not exist anymore.

In plastic bag industry that relate closely with supermarkets, taglines of green line actually still aim solely toward customers. But we can take a very very nice and successful act from several other industry that prove to be work.

A company or industry that decide to support the conversion to green and sustainable living has two options:

  • Increasing the awareness of customers then produce product
  • Produce a product and then offer to customers

In the first approach, it bases on presumption that customers’ awareness of green living could influence what product that they will buy and this is one of the many ultimate reason of not beginning the transformation to green product early in the supply chain but instead delaying it by forcing customers to suffer by giving them a right and wrong choice.


The second one, is to invent a product and offer it to customers. Basically, when we think about a product, there are two kind of how manufacturers could make a product. First type is making a product by looking at the market needs, getting the voice of customers, trying to figure out what they need and improve the product based on it. This is the first approach based on. Then, there is a second one which the customer has no idea about the product that they need at all.It is totally unimaginable for customers that before this product being produced and sold, customers have no idea that they will actually will need this and use it. (like computers, ipad, hand phone, and other product)

Many companies have gone into trap in this first approach which will bring a suffering to customers for a very long terms by trying to make them realize that green is the way of living.

Some companies is already following the second approach to transformation to a green living. There is some good examples, but let me just take two of the most important one. The first one is in the field of energy that basically try to invent green power that will later replace fossil power in the future and also in the field of transportation that replace oil power with electro or hybrid power. Both of this has taken the second approach of offering to customers a fundamentally new product that customers have not yet even imagined before.

Green power will make customers not feeling guilty anymore of using fossil power without clear alternative in front of them that they can have a much better and greener alternative. It is also the same for hybrid power. Customer will have the options to contribute to the sustainability buy buying it instead of gasoline power. For both cases, it is not easy for both industry to innovate into green power and also hybrid power since it has very big risk of replacing gasoline supply chain with hybrid supply chain and fossil with green power.

One example is Toyota hybrid car. the company has philosophy of making customers their first priority and not letting the customers to suffer between choices that they should make. The company realize that it is not right that the customers should resist themself in buying a particular cars, but it is the manufacturers that should come with alternative that still serve the same purpose but will be more incline toward caring of environment. In the first place, Toyota didn’t know that Hybrid will ever become alternative that will works, even the company didn’t know at the time of first launched. But the brave initiative for the purpose of serving both customers and the sustainability of the world leads to a solution that works for both releasing the suffering of choice that customers’ have and also contributing to sustainability of the world and society.

This way of thinking and brave decision toward green and sustainability should also emerge in other industry because to begin with the green transformation, it takes big courage from manufacturers and enormous believe that the company themselves has a will and able to contribute to bring society to green and sustainable living by starting by themselves with their own innovative product or solution. Once a manufacturer has a strong believe on this, they are most unlikely to claim to the world that they are a green and sustainable companies but what they are actually doing is putting the customers as a verdict to put a blame on.