Frederik Winslow Taylor’s book The Principles of Management, published in 1911, stated that:
The primary, if not the only, goal of human labour and thought is efficiency; that technical calculation is in all respects superior to human judgement; that in fact human judgement cannot be trusted, because it is plagued by laxity, ambiguity, and unnecessary complexity; that subjectivity is an obstacle to clear thinking; that what cannot be measured either does not exist or is of no value; and that the affairs of citizens are best guided and conducted by experts.
I went to a networking event for marketers last week and I could hear elements of what Taylor was talking about 100 years on. They were:
- There are ‘experts’ who will tell people how they should do things
- That everything has to be measured
The subject of the talk was content and communication. Looking at the roots of how organisations operate – ie in the Taylorist tradition – we can see the challenges employers have trusting colleagues to share what they know and also the problems they might have putting a value and ROI on it.