1856, Germantown, PA
1915, Philadelphia, PA
Taylor won the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association doubles championship using a patented spoon-shaped racket of his own design.
The son of wealthy Pennsylvania Quakers spent his life studying the workplace, formulating landmark efficiency standards that are still relevant in business today.
The Science of Work
Motivated to create the ultimate, efficient work environment, Frederick Winslow Taylor devised a system he termed scientific management. While industrial revolution-era innovators like Samuel Slater and Francis Lowell advanced quality control in the workplace, Taylor formalized these principles and promoted them to eager industrial managers striving to increase performance.
Taylor was born in 1856, to a wealthy, but devout Quaker family in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Taylor first learned to use time as a management tool while attending Philips Exeter Academy. His mathematics instructor, Bull Wentworth, would time how long it took for half the students to complete a problem, developed a ratio of his own ability to that of his average student, and then created an examination that took exactly the time allotted for class.
Pay the Worker, Not the Job
Taylor passed the entrance examination to Harvard College but did not enroll, instead becoming apprenticed to a machinist and patternmaker at the Enterprise Hydraulic Works in Philadelphia. After completing an engineering degree at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, he went to work at the Midvale Steel Company, where he began his studies of worker productivity. Taylor believed in finding the right jobs for workers, and then paying them well for the increased output. He advocated paying the person and not the job and believed that unions would be unnecessary if workers were paid their individual worth. Taylor doubled productivity at Midvale.
A New Profession
In 1890, Taylor became general manager of the Manufacturing Investment Company and created the new profession of management consultant. He served many prominent firms, ending with the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, where he implemented production planning, real time analysis of daily output and costs, and a modern accounting system. While at Bethlehem, Taylor and Mausel White developed the Taylor-White system for heat-treating chrome-tungsten tool steel, which won Taylor international recognition.
Taylor retired at age 45 but still devoted time and money to promote his principles of scientific management. In 1906, Taylor was elected president of The American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Many of his influential publications first appeared in the transactions of that society. In 1909 he published the work for which he is famous, The Principles of Scientific Management. Considering himself a reformer, Taylor preached the ideals and principles of his system of management until his death from influenza in 1915. Today his system of industrial management continues to influence the development of modern industry around the globe.