A theory of management that is applied to workflows in several engineering processes. It aims to improve economic efficiency and labor productivity.
Scientific Management Details
Frederick Winslow Taylor created scientific management theory. He published a book called Principles of Scientific Management, which outlined theories for better workforce management. Before Taylor's publication, many employers believed that workers were lazy and deliberately worked slowly and inefficiently to protect their jobs.
Scientific management has four main principles; these principles are still being applied in several organizations today.
An employer must break down a job into small tasks, and each task must be viewed scientifically to determine the "one best way" to perform the job. This was significantly different from the earlier practices where workers devised their ways to do the job.
Hire the right workers and provide them proper hands-on training to enable them to work with maximum efficiency.
Worker's performance is to be continuously monitored, and regular feedback is provided.
Employers must adequately separate work between management and labor. This enables workers to execute their daily tasks efficiently and allows the management to plan and train accordingly.
Real-World Example of Scientific Management
Frederick Taylor's scientific management theory was based on the principle that individual workers would be more effective if assigned roles suited their expertise and skill set. Taylor noted that workers' unnecessary movement would decrease productivity, especially in the manufacturing and automobile industry. During this time, Henry Ford of Ford Motor Company hired Taylor to examine their production workflow and determine the best approach to increase productivity.
In 1908, Ford's Model T was coming into production. Before hiring Taylor, the price of the Ford Model T was $825. The first step in Taylor's scientific management approach was to examine the individual parts required to build the automobile. According to Taylor's theory, the larger parts of the car were made stationery, and employees brought the smaller parts to the vehicle. This strategy sped up the production process significantly. To further quicken the production process, Ford made the workers remain stationary in an assembly line as the car's body moved through workstations.
Workers would pull the car by rope from one workstation to another and perform the specialized assigned tasks. This process further increased the production speed of vehicles. Over the years, employers put several other streamlining methods in place based on Taylor's Scientific Management Theory. By 1914, Ford managed to bring the average time of production of the Model T to 93 minutes, and as a result, Ford was able to lower the price to $575. By the end of 1914, Ford had managed to capture 48% of the automobile industry's market share.
Significance of Scientific Management
Even after 100 years of its birth, Scientific Management still is of great relevance in today's organizations. Taylor believed in a complete mental revolution in the workplace. Scientific Management aimed to combine the interests of labor and management to create a harmonious work environment. This enabled maximum profits for the company, which could be split fairly between the two parties.
Scientific Management brought about better management practices through scientific methods such as incentive plans, rest hours, paid time-off, etc. Taylor introduced the concept of "fair day's work for a fair day's wage." This concept enabled workers to perform at their maximum potential by eliminating wasteful motions.
Taylor introduced the incentive and reward concept because workers who produced more than the standard output were given better compensation and rewards than workers who produced lesser than the standard output. This initiative motivated workers to increase their efficiency to make financial gains.