The Machine-Age Rule Book

There was no thick file, but the “rule book” of machine age management was
based on a number of...
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The machine age rule book mob etc 2005

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The machine age rule book mob etc 2005

  1. 1. The Machine-Age Rule Book There was no thick file, but the “rule book” of machine age management was based on a number of key principles: • Command and Control Management was exercised on people through a kind of benign dictatorship. Inspired by military role models, the manager told people what to do and then supervised them. • One Right Way The instructions of management were assumed to be right. The role of those who were managed was not to question or suggest alternative approaches. There was a belief in one right way to undertake tasks. • Subjugation not Subversion The machine age was built around subjugation. Contrast this with the positive encouragement of what would have been regarded as plain subversion in some of today’s more innovative companies. • Labour not Human Resources The workforce was “labour,” hired hands with no stake in the organization. Labour was generally in plentiful supply and the company did not owe them anything, though they were expected to demonstrate loyalty to the company. • National not Global Perspectives were generally national, sometimes regional, and rarely international. • Security not Insecurity While employees were not offered recognition or responsibility, there was an unspoken contract built around security. Companies had a feel of permanence, dominating towns and their markets. The future seemed predictable and their place in the future even more predictable. F W Taylor If there was any one creator of the machine-age rule book, Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856 – 1917) should probably take the credit. Today, the name of the American inventor and engineer is now known by only a few practicing managers. And yet, his work forms the cornerstone of much of the management practice of the twentieth century. The man may be forgotten, but his legacy lives determinedly on and, once described, would be instantly recognized by most managers.

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