Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) an American engineer made major contributions to the development of organizational theory and practice and is considered as the father of scientific management. His publication of “The Principles of Scientific Management” in 1911 was a major milestone in the evolving management theory (Rose, 1988).
Docs “Frederick Taylor’s scientific management” reflects the approach to managing that is no longer appropriate for today’s managers; or is it still appropriate for today’s managers is the subject for my discussions.
The workplace I will be referencing to is Jebel Ali Container Glass Factory (JACGF). JACGF was established in 1988 and is engaged in the manufacture and sale of glass containers for food and beverage industry. The company’s clientele includes large and reputable multinational food and beverage companies such as Coca-cola International, PepsiCo International, Heinz, Masterfoods, Cadburrys Schweppes, Sab Miller, South African breweries, Diageo International (Smirnoff), Fosters International with all the products manufactured against confirmed orders.
The company has a highly automated state of the art glass making with a glass melting furnace capable of producing 320 tons of glass per day operated through 3 glass making production lines and a workforce of 300 employees.
In my critical evaluation of the statement “Frederick Taylor’s Scientific Management” reflects an approach to managing that is no longer appropriate for today’s managers; I will be discussing firstly on Taylor’s theory and other opinions on Taylor’s theory including subsequent development on management theory.
Secondly, my critical evaluation of this statement in question will be discussed with reference to my workplace JACGF with which I am familiar.
Thirdly, I will be considering modern versions of scientific management.
Finally, my conclusion will be stated based on my opinion related to the scientific management in my workplace and whether Taylor approach is appropriate for today’s manager to managing or not.
Taylor stated the principal object of management should be to secure maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee (Taylor F.W. 1911, Px). His scientific management was presented to achieve this principal objective ie maximum prosperity for the employer and maximum prosperity for each employee by eliminating waste and inefficiency by scientific management.
He believed through methodical study and scientific principles it was possible to establish the one best way of carrying out a task or job. Once this method of work had been established it had to be adhered to consistently.
The design and analysis of individual tasks was the key element in developing the one best way to the ‘rule of thumb’ approaches adopted by many managers at that time. Taylor’s belief that individuals always wanted the maximum reward for the minimum of effort and to prevent thismanagers had to set out a detailed way of performing work and to supervise their work, their beliefs were incorporated into his precepts for scientific management which comprised three central elements:
- A systematic collection of knowledge about work process by managers,
- The removal of worker discretion and control over their activities,
- The creation of standard procedures and times for performing certain tasks.
Firstly it is the accumulation of knowledge about work tasks and then creation of a set of basic rules and practices. With this the management increases their level of control through increased awareness and knowledge about the tasks workers perform and also reduce the degree of knowledge required by workers to perform tals by simplifying the work and breaking the task down into smaller tasks, “In the past man has been first. In the future, the system must be first” (Taylor F.W. 1911 PX).
i.e. develop a science for each element of a man’s work, which replaces the old rule-of- thumb method.
Secondly to select and then train, teach and develop workman, whereas in the past he chose his own work and trained himself as best he could.
Thirdly, management cooperate with the men so as to ensure all of the work being done in accordance with the principles of the science which has been developed.
Fourthly, equal division of the work and responsibility between the management and the workmen. The management take over all work for which they are better fitted than the workmen. With this, maximum output is achieved in place of restricted output and the development of each man to his greatest efficiency, higher wages and prosperity.
Taylor was not alone in the development of scientific management. Henry Gantt, an associate of Taylor, developed the Gantt chart- a bar graph that measures planned work against completed work at each stage of production by time worked. Other important pioneers of scientific management were Frank B. and Lillian M. Gilbreth. Fank B. Gilbreth(1868-1924) pioneered time and motion study, he stressed efficiency and was known for his quest for the one best way to do work(Daft, 2005).
The ideas of scientific management that began with Taylor dramatically increased productivity across all industries at that time, and they are still important today. Indeed, the concept arranging work based on careful analysis of tasks for maximum productivity is deeply embedded in our organizations (Geoffrey Colvin, 2000).
The main drawback of scientific management is that it ignored the social context and workers need which resulted in workers feeling of exploitation contradicting from harmony and cooperation envisioned by Taylor and his followers.
Taylor’s scientific management was concentrated on the workmen or the productivity of the individual worker, the administrative principles approach of management brought forward by Henri Fayol, Mary Parker Follet, and Chester I. Bernard tried to focus on the total organization.
Henri Fayol(1841-1925), in his General and Industrial Management (Henri Fayol, 1949) discussed 14 general principles of management practice today including Unity of Command, Division of Work, Unity of Direction, Sealer Chain, This principles can be applied in any organizational setting unlike Taylor’s theory which are focused on workmen and machines operated by workmen. Fayol identified five basic function of management: planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling which are still valid in the general approach to today’s management theory.
Mary Parker Follett’s (1868-1933) ideas served as a contrast to scientific management and are reemerging as applicable for modern managers dealing with rapid changes in today’s global environment, she stressed the importance of people rather than engineering techniques as profound by Taylor in his scientific management. She wrote on the importance of common superintendent goals for reducing conflict in organizations. (Mary Parker- 1918-1924).
Her ideas are timely even today such as ethics, powerm and how to lead in a way that encourages employees to give their best. The concepts of empowerment, facilitating rather than controlling employees, and allowing employees to act depending on the authority of situation lead to other areas for management study. There principles brought in new thinking which were not thought of by Taylor and broaden the scope of management study.
Chester I. Bernard (1886-1961) brought about the concept of the informed organizations, which is evident in all formal organizations which includes cliques and naturally occurring social groupings. His arguments were that organizations are not mere machines and informal relationship are powerful forces that can help the organization if properly managed. And the acceptance theory of authority, which states that people have free will and can choose whether to follow management orders. Manager should treat employees properly as their acceptance of authority may be critical to organization success in important situations (William B. Wolf, 1968 & David D. Van Fleet, 1982).
These theories critically contradicts to Taylor’s scientific principles where Taylor profound the workmen to follow orders without questioning and the aspect of work relating to conception or ‘brain work’ is removed from the control of the worker and centered within the management structure. Whereas the above theories advocates more humanistic perspective on management. There were further developed by the human relations movement and studies such as Hawthorne Studies which concluded that money mattered a great deal but productivity increased partly as a result of the increased feeling of importance and group pride employees felt by being selected for such an important project (F.J, Roethlisberger and W.J. Dickson, Management and the worker). In the Hawthorne experiments, subjects behaved differently because of the active participation of researchers and this has come to be known as the Hawthorne effect. (Ramon J. Aldag and Timothy M. Stearns, 1991).
Two of the best known contributors to the human resources perspective were Abraham Maslow and Douglas McGregor. Abraham Maslow(1908-1970) profounded the theory of hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s hierarchy stated with physiological needs and progressed to safety, belongingness, esteem and finally, self-actualization needs. Where as Taylor’s scientific management did not try to understand the humanistic perspective or the higher needs of workmen. The higher wages was structures to the level where it fulfills the physiological needs and higher wages above this scientifically formulated increased by 60% more than present was identified as detrimented to the scientific system of management.
Douglas McGregor (1906-1964) challenged both the classical perspective of Taylor and associates and the early human relations assumptions about human behavior. He formulated his Theory X and Theory Y. McGregor believed that the classical perspective as profounded by Taylor and associates is based on theory X assumptions about workers i.e. the average worker has an inherent dislike of work and tries to avoid if possible. And due to his dislike of work, most workers must be coerced, controlled, directed, or threatened with punishment to obtain the effort needed to achieve organizational objectives and the average worker prefers to be directed and avoids responsibility with relatively little ambition and above all seeks security.
McGregor proposed theory Y in contrast to Taylorism as a better assumption about workers in guiding management thinking i.e. the average worker does not inherently dislike work, a worker will exercise self-direction and self-control and does not need external control or threat of punishment in the performance of objectives or tasks, the average worker learns under proper condition to accept and seek responsibility.
The capacity to exercise a high degree of imagination, ingenuity and creativity in solving organizational problems in widely, not narrowly distributed in the population of workers and in the conditions of modern industrial life, the intellectual potentialities of the average human being are only partially utilized (Douglas McGregor, 1960). Very few companies today uses theory X which has similarly to Taylorism where as many companies are using Theory Y techniques.
With all the drawbacks of Taylor’s scientific management as criticized by all the subsequent management theories as stated in my discussion saying it is no longer appropriate for today’s mangers in managing can we ignore Taylor’s ideas or is it still applicable in today’s management depends on who is being managed and the specific management needs of the organization in question.
Jebel Ali Container Glass factory (JACGF) being my reference to an organization has successfully implemented Taylor’s scientific management and achieved the principal objective of management profounded by Taylor i.e. maximum prosperity for the employer and maximum prosperity for the employee.
Having started the plant in 1998 the company’s profitability was extremely bad in the early years in spite of the fact that the plant was highly automated with state of the art machinery consisting of highly experienced and skilled manpower. Realistically speaking the rule-of-thumb was prevailing in a modern time. Efficiency was low, wastage or what we call giving away glass was persistent, output was not optimum, job change took longer time and losses increased on all account. Management team consisted of Finance Manager (Acting CEO), Plant Manager, Sales and Marketing Manager, and Commercial and Logistics Manager.
There was no proper direction from the management team passing down the responsibility of decision making down the line. JACGF was put a larger group of companies owned by individual who having had enough decided its either sell off JACGF or being management change. Management change was opted for, and a CEO coming from the old school of management thought was brought in. I was promoted as Finance Manager from my previous position of Assistant Finance Manager (Coming from a management accounting background). This is where Taylorism started at JACGF in the year 2002 inder the direction of the new CEO.
Firstly, we found out that from the date the factory started there was proper recording of every single activity and process and there was a most amount of data, not analyzed as made use of. The information was recorded and available, but no creation of set of rules and practices or the development of a science.
After a production run of a particular product, we started a “Job-Off” meeting and all the department (units) bring in their records of all the modifications that were done for the setting (machine set-up) increase the efficiency, reduce the stoppages and optimised the glass weight of the product in relation to glass distribution, capacity, height and diameter of the product. Optimum machine speed settings are arrived based on the glass Gob temperature, mould temperature, blow pressure, wind cooling pressure, low compressor, air and high compressor air pressure and the cooling system.
The optimum temperature settings related to the forehearth, Distributor and annealing lehr are recorded. Quality issues are identified under different categories of defects and corrective actions that were made during the job run. Apart from these, production details are monitored for recording, analyzing and improvement purposes such as production run days, quantity produced, costed weights, actual weight, costed parameters and actual run parameters and efficiency.
Job-Off meeting is signed off giving a clear set of instructions related to the settings and parameters for the next job run of the same product to avoid trial and error method and as the starting settings and parameters for a new job of a similar product.
In the next stage we started the implementation of a “Job-ON” meeting before starting a new production run to ensure everything is ready in different departments know what is their responsibility, settings and parameters and the new run starts off with the one best way identified in the previous “Job-off” work instructions.
The minimum job run of a product was 5 days and the average job run was 10 days based on the product mix and order quantity. The job change at conversion from one job to another took an average of 8 hours for each job change, this was accepted as an industrial standard.
The “Job-On” meeting was further broaden to include the job change procedures and a work instruction for job change was issued to minimize the job change time.
All the departments involved in the job change were brought in i.e. glass moulds, glass making machine maintenance, glass forming (production), electrical, mechanical, cold-end (glass quality checking and packaging).
Detailed planning is done by the department heads and all the tools and equipment we assembled to minimize the time and movement. And samples i.e. bottles kept aside from the previous production run were made available for the automated packaging machines for the settings to be done while the job change is taking place in the glass making machines. And accordingly the job change is carried in a scientific manner based on a clear set of rules and procedures. With this we reduced the job change, a reduction of 50%.
In the next stage we focused on identifying a clear set of rules and procedures for a new job that was not produced before and to avoid the problems associated with new mould designs where jobs have to be taken off the production line due to design defects of the moulds take 3 months on average, any design defects costs money and time. Each machine has 36 individual sections.
For which individual moulds are needed, so instead of ordering the requirement we started ordering a sample mould(i.e one section only).
The job change was redesigned to facilitate the trial run of a sample bottle mould to ensure the design is correct in compliance with the customer’s requirements related to the design, specifications and to arrive at the set rules and procedures of scientific set up of the best way of operating to achieve the optimum product at the highest efficiency, which was previously done through the “Job-Off” meeting. The bottles produced during this run were used as samples for the cold end machine set up (i.e. packaging machine set up) and this run is not in production waste. This whole procedure is done within the 4 hours of the job change which was previously considered as lost time, now turned into product development time.
Ie while changing from product X to product Y, the trial run of the product Z is done. When product Z is finally run the “Job-On” meeting has all information needed to start off and fine tuning and corrections in the set up if required are done during the run and recorded by each department involved for the “Job-Off” meeting. With this a clear set of rules and procedures are created for the next run of the same product.
Through the glass melting furnace capacity is 320 tons per day, JACGF had only 2 glass making production lines capable of producing 240 tons per day up to 2006 when the mismatch in the capacity was eliminated. This enhanced the flexibility and increased the capacity but brought about the problem of warehousing and loading. Before 2006 the warehouse was managed by supervisor who came from the rank of forklift operator and the rule-of-thumb was prevailing. The increased production volume with the inheritant factor of double handling at the warehouse level. Ie from production to warehousing and warehousing to loading resulted in increasing the stock level and warehouse space in addition to delay in shipments going out.
Within months the problem magnified with time constraints of loading containers and resulting work pressure involved for warehouse staff, complaints and claims received from the customers for breakages of bottles occurring in the high seas arising from improper loading.
To solve this we brought in a carefully selected warehouse supervisor who did not have any previous experience related to the glass industry, but who had considerable experience in shipping and scientific management.
After mathematically (using geometric) re-designing the loading plan to reduce the free space inside the container to avoid breakages at mid sea, he was able to load an additional pallet of bottles and discontinued the usage of air bags inside the container. Now 21 pallets of glass containers were loaded to a 40ft container to the previous load of 20 pallets. The outcome of this was reduction in the shipping cost and eliminating breakages at high seas.
Further a methodology was created for the warehouse operators by identifying the one best way through scientific management where instead of the previous mode of operation where different operations (3 per each bay) pick-up the pallets from different locations and load containers one by one, segregation of the loading was done.
The first operation brings the pallets near the loading bay, the second operator takes the pallet up the loading bay ramp, and the third operator staff, the pallet inside the container. And this operation is done on the two loading bays. With this approach to managing the warehouse, today we can even able to load 25 containers per day where as previously only 10 containers per day was possible through our average loading requirement is 15 containers per day. The backlog is finished stock holding is drastically reduced what is produced today can be shipped tomorrow.