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28 OCTOBER 2014

Fredrick Winslow Taylor and the Myth of Efficiency

"[Fredrick Winslow] Taylor sought to precisely measure the movements of factory workers and their timings to make them as efficient as humanly possible. This made him beloved by executives and detested on the factory floor, and it also made him one of the world's first management consultants. In a recent article in The New Yorker, 'Not So Fast,' the historian Jill Lepore takes a hard look at Taylor and his claims for scientific management. According to new research, he was a better salesman than consultant. Many of his facts were made up, and most of his results never materialized. We now know that Lillian Gilbreth, an early proponent of scientific management, had serious doubts about the movement she helped proselytize.

All this is important because Taylor, with his system of scientific management, was the father of efficiency. From scientific management we get the lust for efficiency in business. It became part of the dogma of business schools, almost none of which existed before his time. Business schools from their earliest days have promoted efficiency and the handling of business as something like industrial engineering. From operations to finance, from marketing to sales, business school education has focused on narrowing problems, identifying resources and working to get the most out of the least."

(Adam Hartung, 16 October 2009, Forbes)

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20th century • Adam Hartung • business education • business efficiency • business growth • business inertia • business leaders • business leadership • business management • business school education • business schools • Clayton Christensencompetitive advantagecost-cutting • cultural myth • customer demand • customer satisfactiondehumanisationdisruptive innovationdogmaefficiency • efficiency in business • factory floor • factory workerForbesFordismFrederick TaylorGary Hamel • history of technology • ideationincremental improvementsincremental innovationindustrial engineering • innovation resources • Jill Lepore • legacy businesses • Lillian Gilbrethman machine • management consultant • manufacturingmanufacturing industries • measuring movement • order and control • organisation leadership • organisational problems • price wars • products and services • Rakesh Khurana • scientific management • taylorism • The New Yorkerwaste prevention • what organisations do

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
28 OCTOBER 2014

Questioning the goal of efficiency in contemporary culture

"Efficiency in human behavior is a goal that is rarely questioned in contemporary culture. This course will study and draw connections between disparate fields to trace the development and influence of this view. The course, drawing a mix of humanities and engineering students, will include readings and lectures on 19th and 20th century philosophers with discussions of new technology and team experimental projects.

Frederick Taylor, the father of industrial engineering, analyzed human motion to optimize industrial productivity, which had great influence on Henry Ford, military logistics, and Stalin. Michel Foucault traced the history of the minute analysis of human motion from Napoleon's methods for transforming peasants into soldiers to modern methods for reforming prisoners. Martin Heidegger claimed that 'efficient ordering' was the defining characteristic of modern culture. Through the course, students will learn to recognize how this obsession with efficiency for its own sake relates to technology and to their daily lives."

(Questioning Efficiency: Human Factors and Existential Phenomenology, UC Berkeley course syllabus, Fall 2006)

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Albert Borgmann • Anson Rabinbach • Anton BragagliaBerkeley (University of California)capture a moment of timechronophotographycooking in the kitchen • critique of technology • Dale Huchingson • dematerialization of objects in space • Eadweard Muybridgeefficiency • efficient ordering • Eliot Eliofson • Emily Fox • engineering students • Etienne-Jules Marey • everyday life • existential phenomenology • fotodinamismo • Frank Gilbreth • Frederick Taylor • geometric chronophotograph • goal • golfer • Henri BergsonHenry Ford • homemaker • Hubert Dreyfushuman behaviourhuman bodyhuman factorshuman factors in designhuman motion • Idris Khan • increased productivityindustrial engineering • industrial productivity • infinite continuity of time • James Gleick • Joseph Stalin • Ken Goldberg • kitchen • kitchen studies • lecture programmeLillian Gilbrethlong exposure • management science • Marcel DuchampMartin Heideggermeasure performancemetricisationmetricsMichel Foucault • military logistics • model kitchen • modern culture • modern homemaker • motion studiesNapoleon Bonaparte • Nude Descending a Staircase (1912) • objects in motion • obsession with efficiency • philosophy of technologyproductivity • reconstruction of movement • schematic phases • scientific goalssimultaneityslow motion photographystudying motiontechnologyThe Kitchen Practical (1929) • time and motion studies • time savingtime-motion studies • Umberto Boccioni • wasted motion

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
06 NOVEMBER 2012

Design Principles and Practices: a knowledge community

SEVENTH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON DESIGN PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES, Japan
Proposals for In–Person Presentations Due: 6 December 2012

"The International Conference on Design Principles and Practices, its associated design journals, the On Design Book Series and the Design News Blog are sites of discussion which explore the meaning and purpose of design. Participants in these forums also speaking in grounded ways about the task of design and the use of designed artifacts and processes. The Conference, Journal, Book Imprint and News Blog support a cross–disciplinary knowledge community, bringing together researchers, teachers and practitioners to discuss the nature and future of design. The resulting conversations weave between the theoretical and the empirical, research and application, market pragmatics and social idealism.

In professional and disciplinary terms, the conference, journals, book series and online media traverse a broad sweep to construct a transdisciplinary dialogue which encompasses the perspectives and practices of: anthropology, architecture, art, artificial intelligence, business, cognitive science, communication studies, computer science, cultural studies, design studies, education, e–learning, engineering, ergonomics, fashion, graphic design, history, information systems, industrial design, industrial engineering, instructional design, interior design, interaction design, interface design, journalism, landscape architecture, law, linguistics and semiotics, management, media and entertainment, psychology, sociology, software engineering, technical communication, telecommunications, urban planning and visual design–to name some of the design disciplines."

(Common Ground)

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2012academic journalanthropologyarchitectureartificial intelligencecognitive scienceCommon Ground (publishing) • communication studies • computer sciencecross-disciplinary knowledge communitycross-disciplinary researchcultural studiesdesign businessdesign disciplinedesign disciplinesdesign educationdesign history • design journals • design managementdesign practitioners • design purpose • design research • design researchers • design studies • design teachers • designed artefacts • e-learningempirical researchengineeringergonomicsfashion designfine artfuture of designgraphic designindustrial designindustrial engineeringinformation systemsinstructional designinteraction designinterface designinterior design • International Conference on Design Principles and Practices • journalismknowledge communitylandscape architecturelawlinguistics • market pragmatics • media and entertainment • professional contextpsychologysemiotics • social idealism • sociologysoftware engineering • technical communication • telecommunications • theoretical research • transdisciplinary dialogue • urban planningvisual design

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
16 JULY 2011

How and When Prototyping Practices Affect Design Performance

"How does the structure of prototyping practice affect learning, motivation, and performance? In this talk, I will describe research on iteration and comparison, two key principles for discovering contextual design variables and their interrelationships. We found that, even under tight time constraints when the common intuition is to stop iterating and start refining, iterative prototyping helps designers learn. Our results also demonstrate that creating and receiving feedback on multiple prototypes in parallel – as opposed to serially – leads to more divergent concepts, more explicit comparison, less investment in a single concept, and better overall design performance. This talk highlights relevant research in cognitive and social psychology and shares the results of our preliminary design studies."

(Steven Dow, 19 November 2009, Google Tech Talk)

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applied researchcognitive psychology • common intuition • conceptualisation • contextual design • creative problem solvingd.school • Dan Schwartz • design performance • design studiesdesign thinkingdesignersdivergent conceptseggenquiryexperimentation • functional fixedness • Georgia Institute of Technology • GoogleTechTalk • HCIhuman-centred computinghuman-computer interactionhypothesisindustrial engineeringintuitioniteration • iteration and feedback • iterative designiterative prototyping • Karl Duncker • learning • parallel prototyping • problem solving researchproblem-solvingprototyping • prototyping practices • psychologyreal-world design • refinement • Scott Klemmerserial prototypingsocial psychologyStanford University • Steven Dow • theory building • University of Iowa

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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