Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Scientific Management as it Applies to ME

While reading “The Principles of Scientific Management,” several of the passages immediately reminded me of situations that I have been a part of. These passages deal mainly with the contrasts between the old forms of management and the new form of management with greater responsibilities for the managers. Two such situations are a great deal like the two different management styles discussed by Taylor. These experiences take place in the same location and revolve around accomplishing the same task, much like the experiments.

These experiences are both took place in the Henry Heymann Theatre on an electrics hang day for one of the Pitt Rep productions. At this point, I was one of the workers under the old form of management. I say this because the workers were organized into “gangs” with each gang having a leader more knowledgeable about the process. But before we could start the actual work, the gangs had to take the time to organize all the required material; something that could have been done ahead of time to make the process flow smoothly. Once the materials were organized and the less knowledgeable works familiarized with the new techniques, the work that we were there to accomplish could be started.

Just like under the old form of management, the gangs were given general instructions and mostly left alone. When we needed information on what to hang next and where to hang it, we would have to ask the management. You can imagine how confusing this could become when there are four or five gangs each asking one person for the next set of instructions. With no clear direction and each gang moving around the floor haphazardly, this only served to slow down the process of the hang to a fraction of the speed it could be done at.

In the Pitt Rep system, the hang takes place over two days and includes not just hanging the instruments, but also running the cable to power them. In the first instance, the hang took the entirety of the first day, while cabling took the entire second day. Again, this process was hampered by a disorganized management. Instead of management deciding where everything was to be powered from, it fell to the workers to keep track of the information. With no organization from management, the cabling soon turned into a confusing tangle that was near impossible to troubleshoot.

The next experience occurred about eight months later. For this hang, I was on the management side. This experience much more closely follows the principles of scientific management. First, all the materials had been thoroughly organized beforehand and were laid out to be easily accessible to the workers. Second, instead of the workers going to management for information on where every single instrument was to be hung, packets containing detailed information on four to seven instruments were prepared. Third, instead of the gangs moving randomly across the floor, the packets of information were handed out in an order so that the gangs never got in each others way. Fourth, although the workers were not necessarily as skilled as the gangs eight month previous, the task was accomplished in roughly half the time. I think this last point makes the second experience much closer to the scientific management Taylor describes.

Due to the organization of the second instance, almost all of the work, including running the cables, was completed on the first day. Instead of the workers keeping track of the information like before, management had everything planned out ahead of time. Once again, packets of information were prepared to be distributed to the workers. This time, the second day consisted of a much smaller group finishing up several small tasks and troubleshooting any problems that were encountered. Overall, it was a much more organized and smoothly run event than the previous one.

From Taylor’s descriptions and my own experiences, it is easy to see how much anyone and everyone can benefit from scientific management. Hopefully in the future I will have an increasing need to apply these practices in making things like electrics hangs go easier and move more smoothly.

3 comments:

cbt6 said...

Hey Philip, I'm Chris, if you didn't know my name, and the red headed kid if you didn't know who I was.

First off, I can see how you were relating your experiences with those from the book, however, I was always taught to kind of read an essay like I have no idea what the subject is. So, my first piece of advice is to maybe say clearly what Taylor actually means by scientific management. If you want,describe some of his ideas for improvement, his thoughts on what the actually problems were in the workplace, or even just touch on the 4 parts we discussed in class (pg. 68)and tie them a little more tightly into your essay.

Another thing, is that your first sentence says, "several passages reminded me of situations I have been a part of" What passage? What situations? You only have one listed. You could build on that if you want.

Also, I think since you have been on both sides of the situation, you could explain how it made you, and the other employees feel about the competance of the gang leaders. Talk about how it strained the "employee-employer" relationship. On the reverse you could talk more about how your employees probably had a better time working in an organized environment. Once again, I think that should be simple and will strengthen the coorelation between your paper and the book.

I think you have a really good skeleton, but the most important thing that you should do in my opinion, is more clearly state your connections with what Taylor was saying.

ps. you got lucky because this prompt is about 100x better than last weeks.

Good luck, it shouldn't take too long for you. See ya Wednesday

Philip said...

While reading “The Principles of Scientific Management,” one of the passages immediately reminded me of situations that I have been a part of. This passage deals mainly with the contrasts between the old forms of management and the new form of management with greater responsibilities for the managers. Two such situations are a great deal like the two different management styles discussed by Taylor.

These experiences take place in the same location and revolve around accomplishing the same task, much like the experiments.
These experiences are both took place in the Henry Heymann Theatre on an electrics hang day for one of the Pitt Rep productions. At this point, I was one of the workers under the old form of management. I say this because the workers were organized into “gangs” with each gang having a leader more knowledgeable about the process. But before we could start the actual work, the gangs had to take the time to organize all the required material; something that could have been done ahead of time to make the process flow smoothly. Once the materials were organized and the less knowledgeable works familiarized with the new techniques, the work that we were there to accomplish could be started.

Just like under the old form of management, the gangs were given general instructions and mostly left alone. When we needed information on what to hang next and where to hang it, we would have to ask the management, the Master Electrician (ME). You can imagine how confusing this could become when there are four or five gangs each asking one person for the next set of instructions. With no clear direction and each gang moving around the floor haphazardly, this only served to slow down the process of the hang to a fraction of the speed it could be done at.

In the Pitt Rep system, the hang takes place over two days and includes not just hanging the instruments, but also running the cable to power them. In the first instance, the hang took the entirety of the first day, while cabling took the entire second day. Again, this process was hampered by a disorganized management. Instead of management deciding where everything was to be powered from, it fell to the workers to keep track of the information. With no organization from management, the cabling soon turned into a confusing tangle that was near impossible to troubleshoot.

The next experience occurred about eight months later. For this hang, I was on the management side. This experience much more closely follows the principles of scientific management. First, all the materials had been thoroughly organized beforehand and were laid out to be easily accessible to the workers. Second, instead of the workers going to management for information on where every single instrument was to be hung, packets containing detailed information on four to seven instruments were prepared. Third, instead of the gangs moving randomly across the floor, the packets of information were handed out in an order so that the gangs never got in each other’s way. Fourth, although the workers were not necessarily as skilled as the gangs eight month previous, the task was accomplished in roughly half the time. I think this last point makes the second experience much closer to the scientific management Taylor describes.

Due to the organization of the second instance, almost all of the work, including running the cables, was completed on the first day. Instead of the workers keeping track of the information like before, management had everything planned out ahead of time. Once again, packets of information were prepared to be distributed to the workers. This time, the second day consisted of a much smaller group finishing up several small tasks and troubleshooting any problems that were encountered. Also, because everything was prepared by the management, the amount of work required of the workers was minimized, making the hang as enjoyable and relaxed as possible. Overall, it was a much more organized and smoothly run event than the previous one.

If we take each event as is relates to Taylor’s principles of management, we can immediately see that the first principle, “the development of a true science,” can only be partially appled as the event only covers a limited amount of time. If the worker chooses to pursue this work as a career, that is when the development truly takes place. The second principle, “the scientific selection of the workman,” almost cannot be applied at all. This is an educational institution and most of the workers are required to do this work to graduate, limiting the ability to select workers based on ability. The third principle, the “scientific education and development” of the worker, is the most applicable in both of these situations. The whole purpose of these events is to educate the workers about the process of hanging a light plot. The fourth principle, “intimate and friendly cooperation between management and the men,” is the most important one for the hanging of the plot. Seeing as most of the workers are required to be there, it is up to the management to provide a friendly and supportive atmosphere so that the workers will work to the best of their abilities with as little resentment as possible.

From Taylor’s descriptions and my own experiences, it is easy to see how much anyone and everyone can benefit from scientific management. Hopefully in the future I will have an increasing need to apply these practices in making things like electrics hangs go easier and move more smoothly.

Adam Johns said...

Chris - Your advice to focus on what Taylor actually means is good, but in this class (and in most college classes) you are writing for the rest of your classmates, not for people who know nothing. So you were right, but for the wrong reasons.

Good advice overall, though.

Philip - The original version was an interesting personal account of chaotic vs. highly organized management; its weakness was the relatively weak and implicit connection with Taylor.

In this revision, you do a good job analyzing the "new" management in relationship with Taylorism. No complaints.

What I would have liked to see here is some kind of insight drawn from this experience and this analysis. From Taylor's pov, of course, a half-implemented scientific management is hardly related to scientific management at all. Could you imagine "full" Taylorism in this environment, for instance? If not, why not?

This is well executed as far as it goes, but has no particular ambition, or even a desire to draw conclusions.