Saturday, August 3, 2013

Organizing a Small Workshop for High Productivity - F.W. Taylor

In starting to organize even a comparatively small shop, containing say
from 75 to 100 men, it is best to begin by training in the full number
of functional foremen, one for each function, since it must be
remembered that about two out of three of those who are taught this work
either leave of their own accord or prove unsatisfactory; and in
addition, while both the workmen and bosses are adjusting themselves to
their new duties, there are needed fully twice the number of bosses as
are required to carry on the work after it is fully systematized.

Unfortunately, there is no means of selecting in advance those out of a
number of candidates for a given work who are likely to prove
successful. Many of those who appear to have all of the desired
qualities, and who talk and appear the best, will turn out utter
failures, while on the other hand, some of the most unlikely men rise to
the top. The fact is that the more attractive qualities of good manners,
education, and even special training and skill, which are more apparent
on the surface, count for less in an executive position than the grit,
determination and bulldog endurance and tenacity that knows no defeat
and comes up smiling to be knocked down over and over again. The two
qualities which count most for success in this kind of executive work
are grit and what may be called "constructive imagination"--the faculty
which enables a man to use the few facts that are stored in his mind in
getting around the obstacles that oppose him, and in building up
something useful in spite of them; and unfortunately, the presence of
these qualities, together with honesty and common sense, can only be
proved through an actual trial at executive work. As we all know,
success at college or in the technical school does not indicate the
presence of these qualities, even though the man may have worked hard.
Mainly, it would seem, because the work of obtaining an education is
principally that of absorption and assimilation; while that of active
practical life is principally the direct reverse, namely, that of giving

In selecting men to be tried as foremen, or in fact for any position
throughout the place, from the day laborer up, one of two different
types of men should be chosen, according to the nature of the work to be
done. For one class of work, men should be selected who are too good for
the job; and for the other class of work, men who are barely good

If the work is of a routine nature, in which the same operations are
likely to be done over and over again, with no great variety, and in
which there is no apparent prospect of a radical change being made,
perhaps through a term of years, even though the work itself may be
complicated in its nature, a man should be selected whose abilities are
barely equal to the task. Time and training will fit him for his work,
and since he will be better paid than in the past, and will realize that
he has been given the chance to make his abilities yield him the largest
return--all of the elements for promoting contentment will be present;
and those men who are blessed with cheerful dispositions will become
satisfied and remain so. Of course, a considerable part of mankind is so
born or educated that permanent contentment is out of the question. No
one, however, should be influenced by the discontent of this class.

On the other hand, if the work to be done is of great
variety--particularly if improvements in methods are to be
anticipated--throughout the period of active organization the men
engaged in systematizing should be too good for their jobs. For such
work, men should be selected whose mental caliber and attainments will
fit them, ultimately at least, to command higher wages than can be
afforded on the work which they are at. It will prove a wise policy to
promote such men both to better positions and pay, when they have shown
themselves capable of accomplishing results and the opportunity offers.
The results which these high-class men will accomplish, and the
comparatively short time which they will take in organizing, will much
more than pay for the expense and trouble, later on, of training other
men, cheaper and of less capacity, to take their places. In many cases,
however, gang bosses and men will develop faster than new positions open
for them. When this occurs, it will pay employers well to find them
positions in other works, either with better pay, or larger
opportunities; not only as a matter of kindly feeling and generosity
toward their men, but even more with the object of promoting the best
interests of their own establishments. For one man lost in this way,
five will be stimulated to work to the very limit of their abilities,
and will rise ultimately to take the place of the man who has gone, and
the best class of men will apply for work where these methods prevail.
But few employers, however, are sufficiently broad-minded to adopt this
policy. They dread the trouble and temporary inconvenience incident to
training in new men.

Mr. James M. Dodge, Chairman of the Board of the Link-Belt Company, is
one of the few men with whom the writer is acquainted who has been led
by his kindly instincts, as well as by a far-sighted policy, to treat
his employees in this way; and this, together with the personal
magnetism and influence which belong to men of his type, has done much
to render his shop one of the model establishments of the country,
certainly as far as the relations of employer and men are concerned. On
the other hand, this policy of promoting men and finding them new
positions has its limits. No worse mistake can be made than that of
allowing an establishment to be looked upon as a training school, to be
used mainly for the education of many of its employees. All employees
should bear in mind that each shop exists, first, last, and all the
time, for the purpose of paying dividends to its owners. They should
have patience, and never lose sight of this fact. And no man should
expect promotion until after he has trained his successor to take his
place. The writer is quite sure that in his own case, as a young man, no
one element was of such assistance to him in obtaining new opportunities
as the practice of invariably training another man to fill his position
before asking for advancement.

F.W. Taylor, Shop Management

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