A Defense of Taylorism

  • November 27, 2011
  • Scott

Jakob Freund has written an interesting defense of Taylorism, and he makes a few interesting points that I don’t recall seeing in previous discussions about ACM v BPM.

Actually, when I am driving, I am a zombie worker most of the time. Sometimes, of course, there are “unpredictable” events, like a child running over the street, or an alien spaceship landing in the middle of the highway. Then I become a knowledge worker, handling that case with my horribly flexible brain.

No, I don’t mean the point about alien spacecraft, I’m referring to his point that being able to operate on auto-pilot leaves our mind free to focus when we really need to, in value-added situations.

So the bottom line is: Making the world more predictable (yes, it can be done), and then applying axiomatic systems to it, is nothing invented by Taylor and somehow an “accident” of the 20th century, but it is a central component of human evolution. It has always been there, and it will always be there, as long as people are interested in less work and more free time.

This is also an interesting argument.  A bit too much credit has gone to Taylor over the years for putting into words what might already have been in progress.

The central thesis seems to be that reducing “knowledge work” to scalable process work is one of the key imperatives of scaling a business.  It is an interesting take on things, and fits a lot of the process efforts that focus on efficiency as a goal.  And it is a refutation of much of the hype around ACM as being something shiny and new.

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