The definitive biography of the first "efficiency expert."
Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) was the first efficiency expert, the original time-and-motion man?the father of scientific management, the inventor of a system that became known, inevitably enough, as Taylorism. "In the past the man has been first. In the future the System will be first," he predicted boldly, and accurately. Taylor bequeathed to us, writes Robert Kanigel in this definitive biography, a clockwork world of tasks timed to the hundredth of a minute. Taylor helped instill in us the obsession with time, order, productivity, and efficiency that marks our age. His influence can be seen in factories, schools, offices, hospitals, libraries, even kitchen design. At the peak of his celebrity in the early twentieth century, Taylor gave lectures around the country and was as famous as Edison or Ford. To organized labor, he was a slave driver; to the bosses, he was an eccentric and a radical. To himself, he was a misunderstood visionary whose "one best way" would bring prosperity to worker and boss alike. Robert Kanigel's compelling chronicle takes Taylor from privileged Philadelphia childhood to factory floor to international fame, telling the story of a paradigmatic American figure whose influence would be felt from the New Deal to Soviet Russia and remains pervasive?even insidious?today.
Though not nearly as well known as Ford or Edison, Frederick Winslow Taylor's influence on the modern age is no less significant; management guru Peter Drucker calls Taylor "the most powerful as well as the most lasting contribution America has made to Western thought since the Federalist Papers." Although Taylor's name may have been forgotten by the masses, the management practices he implemented have become the worldwide standard for efficiency. Taylor invented what became known as "Scientific Management," or simply "Taylorism," an approach to organizing factories and offices that placed workers within a rigid system designed for maximum productivity. Taylor broke down the machinery and management of industrialization, measuring each movement with stopwatch precision to deduce how the whole could operate more efficiently. A man perfectly suited to his times, he lived during the peak of the Industrial Revolution, providing him a grand stage for displaying his ideas. Today his legacy may be viewed by some as a sort of curse; the modern workplace he helped to create pits employees in a race against the clock, virtual slaves to a system created nearly a century ago. The One Best Way
is a fascinating history of the man who revolutionized the way we do business and, in turn, the way we live.