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
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
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.