taylorism

Taylorism - derived from the inventor's surname - refers to the method of work organization devised by the American engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor at the end of the 19th century, and systematised in his book The Principles of Scientific Management (1911).

A true scientific tool at the service of productivity, Taylorism methodically reorganizes work by decomposing and optimizing the distribution of tasks.

Taylorism developed in the macroeconomic context of the industrial revolution, synonymous with the appearance of the first factories on a very large scale. As they can no longer copy their operations from those of individual workshops, which are subject to immense productivity requirements, industries therefore needed to rethink their production techniques in depth.

For a long time now, the division of labour and its standardization have been widespread intuitions in response to these new realities. However, Frederick Taylor would go even further in the direction of these intuitions, by modelling this work optimization in a perfectly methodical way.

First of all, Taylorism imposes a first - vertical - reorganization of the company, with a dissociation of decision-making and execution activities. According to Taylor, the design of tasks must not be the work of those who will perform them. Engineers are responsible for organising their factories, for distributing tasks, while the role of workers is simply to implement decisions imposed on them from above.

The second reorganization of work is horizontal: it is the division of interventions on the production chain. According to Taylor, this reorganization must take place in three stages. First, the decomposition of all activities in the production chain into a precise number of simple, identified tasks. Then - this is the most scientific part of the method - it is a question of determining in the most objective way possible the most effective gestures, movements and operations possible for the realization of each task. This is Taylor's obsession with the One Best Way, the central pillar around which his entire method is built.

Finally, it is necessary to define the optimal matrix (the set of each of the best ways) and to optimally mix all the resources of the company, that is man, capital and materiel.