Monday, August 17, 2015

Fred Taylor & the Illusion of Top-Down Control - Part 2

By Pascal Dennis

Last time I wrote about Fred Taylor and his Faustian bargain.

Taylor separated planning from production.

Productivity soared, but at a terrible cost:
  1. The alienation of front line team members, and
  2. the illusion of top-down control
"We can manage from a distance, by the numbers."


"What can front line team members possibly teach us?"

These are common expressions of this way of thinking, which, sadly, permeates our professional and business schools.

This mental model is so deep that nobody even thinks to question it.

Bottom-up management, by contrast, was the dominant mental model during what Ken and Bill Hopper call "The Golden Age" -- roughly 1920 to 1970.

(The Puritan Gift is their fine account of this period)

I see the pernicious effects of this way of thinking in our consulting work.

Well-meaning, capable executives who, nonetheless, believe they can manage from a distance.

And who do NOT believe in enabling front line improvement by involving all team members.

A revered sensei once asked me, "How will you motivate your team, Pascal-san?"

Another time, I asked him, "Sensei, why is involvement so important?"

"If involvement is high," he replied, "injuries, defects, cost and lead time are low. But if involvement is low..."

Best,

Pascal


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