Frederick Taylor’s is known as the “father of Scientific Management” and his theories were as famous as the theories of Henry Fayoli. In fact, Peter Drucker, who is called as the “guru’s guru”, had suggested Taylor deserved the title better.
Frederick Taylor was born on March 20, 1856 in Philadelphia, USA. His father, Franklin Taylor, was a Princeton-educated lawyer, who built his wealth on mortgages. His mother, Emily Taylor gave him early education, as the it was the practice those days. Later, Taylor studied for two years in France and Germany and traveled across Europe for 18 months. In 1872, he joined Exeter Academy with the plan of eventually going to Harvard and becoming a lawyer like his father. In 1874, Taylor passed the Harvard entrance examinations with honors, but could not join due to rapidly deteriorating eyesight.
When his sight was restored, Taylor, however, chose a different path. He joined as an apprentice to learn the trades of patternmakers and machinists at the Enterprise Hydraulic Works. Three years later he went to the Midvale Steel Company, where, starting as a machine shop laborer, he became successively a shop clerk, machinist, gang boss, foreman, maintenance foreman, head of the drawing office, and chief engineer. Taylor retired at age of 45 but continued to devote his time and money to promote the principles of scientific management through lectures at universities and professional societies across the US.
Taylor’s fame increased after his testimony in 1912 before a special committee of the US House of Representatives to investigate his own and other systems of shop management. Considering himself a reformer, he continued expounding the ideals and principles of his system of management until his death in 1915.
'Frederick W. Taylor was the first man in recorded history who deemed work deserving of systematic observation and study. On Taylor's `scientific management' rests, above all, the tremendous surge of affluence in the last seventy-five years which has lifted the working masses in developed countries well above any level recorded, even for the well-to-do. Not much has been added to them since – even though he has been dead all of sixty years”, said Peter Drucker, the famous Management Guru.
The scientific management approach propounded by F.W. Taylor is based upon the following four principles:
- Science not rule of thumb;
- Harmony not discord;
- Cooperation not individualism;
- Development of each and every person to his/her own efficiency and prosperity.
Indeed, Taylor’s theories were much ahead of his times.