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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
26 FEBRUARY 2009

Is print really dirtier than online?

"When it comes to the environmental impact of communication media, print is usually singled out as the dirty old man, writes Barney Cox in 'Foot prints', Eye no.70. vol. 18. It is understandable why that should be. In the shiny, weightless online world, everything happens in the twinkling of an eye and it is possible to instantly view a Web page or email created on the other side of the world. With the rise of the iPhone, Wifi and 3G dongles, this viewing can be anywhere, as long as you have battery life and a few bars of signal.

The technology is easy to use–and makes it easy to forget that there is a huge infrastructure humming away behind the scenes. Factories have to produce the laptops, smartphones and flat panel displays that are the windows to this electronic world; and communications networks and data centres need to be powered 24 / 7 to allow us the convenience of access any time, any place, anywhere. Jonathan Koomey of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California has calculated that the data centres that drive the internet already consume one per cent of global electricity capacity, and that their consumption is growing at seventeen per cent per year (New Scientist, 4 October 2008).

By contrast, the physicality of the printed page shows rather than hides the resources that went into providing the paper that supports the design. Every time we turn the page of a magazine or pick up a book, it reminds us of the raw materials and energy that have gone into its production.

Earlier this year, Sainsbury's, the UK supermarket chain, announced its decision to distribute its report and accounts in electronic form only, claiming environmental reasons. Michael Johnson, president of the British Print Industries Federation (BPIF), decried the move as a 'phoney' attempt to cover up a cost–cutting exercise. Johnson said: 'The paper industry is one of the great success stories of modern recycling. Paper is not the enemy of the environment it is made out to be.' Sainsbury's, however, defended its decision as being 'in keeping with our corporate responsibility principle of 'respect for our environment'.'"
(Barney Cox, 25 February, 2009)

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CONTRIBUTOR

Shaun Belcher
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