Saturday, August 3, 2013

Introducing Functional Foremanship - F.W. Taylor

The first of the functional foremen to be brought into actual contact
with the men should be the inspector; and the whole system of
inspection, with its proper safeguards, should be in smooth and
successful operation before any steps are taken toward stimulating the
men to a larger output; otherwise an increase in quantity will probably
be accompanied by a falling off in quality.

Next choose for the application of the two principal functional foremen,
viz., the speed boss and the gang boss, that portion of the work in
which there is the largest need of, and opportunity for, making a gain.
It is of the utmost importance that the first combined application of
time study, slide rules, instruction cards, functional foremanship, and
a premium for a large daily task should prove a success both for the
workmen and for the company, and for this reason a simple class of work
should be chosen for a start. The entire efforts of the new management
should be centered on one point, and continue there until unqualified
success has been attained.

When once this gain has been made, a peg should be put in which shall
keep it from sliding back in the least; and it is here that the task
idea with a time limit for each job will be found most useful. Under
ordinary piece work, or the Towne-Halsey plan, the men are likely at any
time to slide back a considerable distance without having it
particularly noticed either by them or the management. With the task
idea, the first falling off is instantly felt by the workman through the
loss of his day's bonus, or his differential rate, and is thereby also
forcibly brought to the attention of the management.

There is one rather natural difficulty which arises when the functional
foremanship is first introduced. Men who were formerly either gang
bosses, or foremen, are usually chosen as functional foremen, and these
men, when they find their duties restricted to their particular
functions, while they formerly were called upon to do everything, at
first feel dissatisfied. They think that their field of usefulness is
being greatly contracted. This is, however, a theoretical difficulty,
which disappears when they really get into the full swing of their new
positions. In fact the new position demands an amount of special
information, forethought, and a clear-cut, definite responsibility that
they have never even approximated in the past, and which is amply
sufficient to keep all of their best faculties and energies alive and
fully occupied. It is the experience of the writer that there is a great
commercial demand for men with this sort of definite knowledge, who are
used to accepting real responsibility and getting results; so that the
training in their new duties renders them more instead of less valuable.

As a rule, the writer has found that those who were growling the most,
and were loudest in asserting that they ought to be doing the whole
thing, were only one-half or one-quarter performing their own particular
functions. This desire to do every one's else work in addition to their
own generally disappears when they are held to strict account in their
particular line, and are given enough work to keep them hustling.

There are many people who will disapprove of the whole scheme of a
planning department to do the thinking for the men, as well as a number
of foremen to assist and lead each man in his work, on the ground that
this does not tend to promote independence, self-reliance, and
originality in the individual. Those holding this view, however, must
take exception to the whole trend of modern industrial development; and
it appears to the writer that they overlook the real facts in the case.

It is true, for instance, that the planning room, and functional
foremanship, render it possible for an intelligent laborer or helper in
time to do much of the work now done by a machinist. Is not this a good
thing for the laborer and helper? He is given a higher class of work,
which tends to develop him and gives him better wages. In the sympathy
for the machinist the case of the laborer is overlooked. This sympathy
for the machinist is, however, wasted, since the machinist, with the aid
of the new system, will rise to a higher class of work which he was
unable to do in the past, and in addition, divided or functional
foremanship will call for a larger number of men in this class, so that
men, who must otherwise have remained machinists all their lives, will
have the opportunity of rising to a foremanship.

The demand for men of originality and brains was never so great as it is
now, and the modern subdivision of labor, instead of dwarfing men,
enables them all along the line to rise to a higher plane of efficiency,
involving at the same time more brain work and less monotony. The type
of man who was formerly a day laborer and digging dirt is now for
instance making shoes in a shoe factory. The dirt handling is done by
Italians or Hungarians.

After the planning room with functional foremanship has accomplished its
most difficult task, of teaching the men how to do a full day's work
themselves, and also how to get it out of their machines steadily, then,
if desired, the number of non-producers can be diminished, preferably,
by giving each type of functional foreman more to do in his specialty;
or in the case of a very small shop, by combining two different
functions in the same man. The former expedient is, however, much to be
preferred to the latter. There need never be any worry about what is to
become of those engaged in systematizing after the period of active
organization is over. The difficulty will still remain even with
functional foremanship, that of getting enough good men to fill the
positions, and the demand for competent gang bosses will always be so
great that no good boss need look for a job.

Of all the farces in management the greatest is that of an establishment
organized along well planned lines, with all of the elements needed for
success, and yet which fails to get either output or economy. There must
be some man or men present in the organization who will not mistake the
form for the essence, and who will have brains enough to find out those
of their employees who "get there," and nerve enough to make it
unpleasant for those who fail, as well as to reward those who succeed.
No system can do away with the need of real men. Both system and good
men are needed, and after introducing the best system, success will be
in proportion to the ability, consistency, and respected authority of
the management.

F.W. Taylor, Shop Management

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