efficiency_society…very helpful when it comes to learning from history to better understand the present.

As you may know, one of my great interests is to read articles from the early days of industrial engineering its transformation into progressive management. This time period, circa 1890-1935, interests me because the forerunner to Toyota’s production system and Lean, called Scientific Management, experienced many of the same difficulties that we face today.

I offer you a curated collection of my recent readings from between 1911 and 1921. Anyone interested in Toyota production system, The Toyota Way, or Lean – whether service or manufacturing – should be very interested in these articles. One of the things that you will quickly realize is that Scientific Management circa 1912 is better aligned with TPS/Toyota Way than Lean was when it was introduced to the public in 1988 and for nearly two decades thereafter.

You will be amazed by what you read in the articles below. And you will soon realize the key figures leading the Scientific Management movement were intelligent, deeply thoughtful people, with good intentions, who dedicated their lives to improving American industrial strength, the practice of management, and life for workers on-the-job. Frederick Winslow Taylor et al. are not the horrible villains that self-proclaimed “management expert” James P. Womack makes them out to be. (Click here for more details).

The reading is assembled chronologically into a single 53-page .pdf file (click here to view or download) and includes the following 10 articles:

  • “The Problem of Industrial Efficiency,” Henry Gantt, The Engineering Digest, March 1911, pp. 179-183
  • “Elementary Time Study as a Part of the Taylor System of Scientific Management,” H.K. Hathaway, Industrial Engineering and The Engineering Digest, Vol. XI, No. 2, February 1912, pp. 85-95
  • “A Little Faking on Both Sides,” Anon., Bulletin of the Efficiency Society, Vol. 1, No. 2, December 1912, pp. 10-11
  • “The Efficiency Movement: An Outline,” Charles B. Going, Journal Efficiency Society, Transactions Volume 1 (1912), 1913, pp. 11-20
  • “The General Principles of Organization Applied to an Individual Manufacturing Establishment,” Henry R. Towne, Journal Efficiency Society, Transactions Volume 1 (1912), 1913, pp. 77-83
  • “Training for Large Responsibilities in Business,” James P. Munroe, Journal Efficiency Society, Transactions Volume 1 (1912), 1913, pp. 399-405
  • “Inefficient Efficiency Experts,” Anon., Bulletin of the Efficiency Society, Vol. 2, No. 4, April 1913, pp. 8-9
  • “A Few Words on the Subject of Getting Things Done,” Henry Gantt, Journal of the Efficiency Society, Volume 2, No. 6, June 1913, pp. 8-9
  • “Making Goods Versus Making Records,” Henry Gantt, Efficiency Society Journal, Vol. 6, No. 9, September 1917, pp. 460-461
  • “Training Men to Specialize in Cutting Costs,” Edward L. Ryerson Jr., Factory: The Magazine of Management, 1 March 1921, pp. 590-594

Enjoy this small sampling of great work that was the foundation upon which Toyota’s management system was built! And please don’t ever forget that it was the birth of industrial engineering that led to the Toyota Production System and The Toyota Way, while it was MIT that gave birth to Lean.


This blog post was more successful than I thought it would be, so I decided to add these four truly impressive works that are well worth your time to read.

The first is a 13 page paper by Morris Cooke that gives you a great sense of the intent of Scientific Management, which is to benefit both owners and workers. Next is a powerful essay by Horace King Hathaway which every TPS/Lean practitioner can relate to. Finally, two powerful books by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth that get into amazing detail about Scientific Management from both technical and human perspectives. You will see, even more clearly, that Toyota management is more closely aligned with Scientific Management than you ever imagined – and that Scientific Management is closer to Toyota management than Lean is. Enjoy!

One Response to A Little Bit of Knowledge Can Be…

  1. William Ryan says:

    I remember back in the early 80’s I was the most devoted student of Dr.Deming. I thought that everything he said was religion, truth and he was walking on water and he was. Then one day someone gave me a book and it was Ohno’s and that sent me in a whole new direction that continues to this day that I would call now my lean journey. I didn’t write any books on it because I had no time to but actually lived and did Lean for 35 years…

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