Taylor on Taylorism


In most trades the science is developed through a comparatively simple analysis and time study of the movements required by the workmen to do some small part of his work, and this study is usually made by a man equipped merely with a stop watch and a properly ruled notebook. Hundreds of these “time study men” are now engaged in developing elementary scientific knowledge where before existed only rule-of-thumb. Even the motion study of Mr. Gilbreth in bricklaying involves a much more elaborate investigation than that which occurs in most cases. The general steps to be taken in developing a simple law of this class are as follows:


Find, say, 10 to 15 different men (preferably in as many separate establishments and different parts of the country) who are especially skillful in doing the particular work to be analyzed.


Second. Study the exact series of elementary operations or motions which each of these men uses in doing the work which is being investigated, as well as the implements each man uses.


Third. Study with a stop watch the time required to make each of these elementary movements and then select the quickest way of doing each element of the work.


Fourth. Eliminate all false movements, slow movements, and useless movements.


Fifth. After doing away with all unnecessary movements, collect into one series the quickest and best movements, as well as the best implements.


This new method, involving that series of motions which can be made quickest and best, is then substituted in place of the 10 or 15 inferior series which were formerly in use. This best method becomes standard and remains standard, to be taught first to the teachers (or functional foremen) and by them to every workman in the establishment until it is superseded by a quicker and better series of movements. In this simple way one element after another of the science is developed. In the same way each type of implement used in a trade is studied.


. . .Now, what I want to bring out and make clear to you is that under scientific management there is nothing too small to become the subject of scientific investigation. Every single motion of every man in the shop sooner or later becomes the subject of accurate, careful study to see whether that motion is the best and quickest that can be used, and as you see, this is a new mental attitude assumed by the employer which differs radically from the old. The old idea, both of employer and employee, was to leave all of these details to someone’s judgment. The new idea is that everything requires scientific investigation, and that is what I am trying to make clear to you.