What is Taylorism?

Definition: Taylorism is a production system that divides the manufacturing process in small steps that reduce the degree of skills required to perform each activity. The aim of taylorism is to increase productivity and to reduce training times to increase output levels.

What Does Taylorism Mean?

This workflow method was conceived by Frederick Taylor, an engineer that developed this practice in the 20th century with the goal of increasing productivity and efficiency within factories and production processes. Taylor proposed a work organization that reduced the skills required to perform each task and the time it took each individual to complete it. To achieve this, he designed the production process as a set of many interrelated, sequential small tasks that were very mechanical in its nature. Another essential component of Taylor’s method was motivation. He pointed the fact that workers were stimulated primarily with the possibility of making more money.

To increase productivity, he established work incentives such as bonuses, to motivate employees to produce larger quantities in less time. This practice proved to be highly effective and established the foundations for mass production. There are of course some disadvantages and negative aspects that come along with the implementation of Taylorism in factory dynamics but its benefits are widely recognized and they serve as the starting point for many manufacturing processes designed in modern factories.

Example

Paul and his wife own an egg production facility. They currently have 350 hens laying eggs on a weekly basis and they have hired a production team of 10 members that systematically collect, wash, observe, grade, pack and ship/store eggs according to the industry’s best practices. Each individual has a very specific task to perform. For example, Matthew, one of the members of the team, has the duty to wash each egg after Laurent, another team member, collects the eggs from the hens.

Matthew has the goal to wash each egg in 3 seconds at most and he has a daily goal to wash 3500 eggs and if he accomplishes this goal he gets an additional 10% of his daily wage. This production process was designed under Taylor’s principles and has proved to be a very productive set up for Paul’s factory.