Beyond Personal Productivity
By Jesse W. Brogan, President
The Management Upgrade Shop
From The Principles of Scientific Management, 1911 by Frederick Taylor:
Broadly speaking, then, the best type of management in ordinary use may be defined as management in which the workmen give their best initiative and in return receive some special incentive from their employers. This type of management will be referred to as the management of "initiative and incentive."
management improvement efforts are often intent on establishing efficiency
through maximizing personal productivity.
Personal productivity is the same concept we see in
Management by initiative and incentive was founded on a belief that the purpose of management was getting other people to do the work. Rewards and punishments were applied to achieve that end; and were implemented by various methods designed to maximize the output from each person’s efforts.
To put this
The change was deep; it involved making the boss manager into a performance manager. It redefined management so the manager took personal responsibility for assuring the performance of subordinate workers. In a few decades, the 19th century work-boss was replaced by a 20th century foreman, a specialty that is still with us today.
of change was driven by economics.
Effective output from the average worker was not just increased; it was
more than doubled. Applying
The direction of that change is also startling. Where workmen had previously provided their own tools as a condition of employment, management started providing the right tools to promote efficient performance. Where workmen had been responsible for performance methods, management studied performance processes, determined the most efficient methods, and then trained the workers to use those efficient methods. Where workmen had performed in work gangs, management assumed charge of organizing and coordinating group efforts into consistent and effective group-performance processes. Management assumed responsibility for providing working environments that promoted efficient performances.
The bulk of the
change went to management rather to workers.
Of even greater significance for performance managers, changes initiated by this shift in management decreased the personal efforts of workmen. Their performance hours were reduced to a level where efficient performance was most sustainable. Their work was simplified and redesigned so that they became less fatigued by their efforts. In short, workers used less initiative and had reduced incentive to work hard. They did less work! Their performances were made more effective through proactive management.
Even as performance was increased,
personal productivity was reduced.
A first lesson for the modern manager is that increases to personal productivity are not well correlated with increases in organizational performance. Our modern productivity-based approach to performance management is suspect – independent of its present popularity.
The same boss-based approach that was in common use for production management in 1900, is now common everywhere except in production. That is why productivity measures are being favored. What we can learn from history is that an effort based on maximizing personal productivity is not an effective way to maximize performance.
The General Solution:
Engineering, as the art and science for finding practical solutions to real problems, tends to use common-sense approaches. One general rule is: Expand on what works; stop doing things that don’t.
productivity approach in place during the early 1900’s was overtaken in the
production environment by scientific management because it didn’t work well for
assuring performance at reasonable cost.
Performance improvement will be accomplished through actions that hold the working manager personally responsible for the productive results accomplished by managed subordinates.
Defining and identifying these effective changes became the technical expertise we recognize as traditional industrial engineering. This included the design and selection of tools, jigs and fixtures. It included arrangement of working equipment and work groups. It included work analysis and development of coordinated production lines and work groups. It included design of facilities to promote performance efficiency.
Management engineering, the application of the principles of industrial engineering to work performed in gaining through a subordinate organization, is the appropriate expertise for implementing performance management in the office environment. It includes the design of organizations and management processes to assure efficiency of operation. It includes the study of internal products and customers to maximize the flow of value. It includes the study of management relations.
Basic Management Engineering Concepts:
The First Rule of Management Engineering:
Management is an essential;
you cannot improve management
by replacing it with something else.
Management, the gaining of performance through the operation of an organized effort, is naturally based on what is delivered from the organization to its customers. This concentration on organizational performance cannot be improved by replacing it with focus on personal productivity. Any focus on personal productivity will redirect/distract management from pursuing organizational purposes.
Performance Metrics apply to the organization as a whole. Organizations have only two value metrics, value produced and cost of producing it. The value produced is measured by product delivered to external customers so that it gains operating resources. Customers determine value by what they are willing to pay to get the product. Cost is the whole cost of operating the organization while it generates and delivers goods or services to its customers.
Increasing the personal productivity of a worker, or even of all workers, promotes efficiency when it increases the value of products that the organization delivers to its customers. It also increases efficiency when it reduces the cost of operating the organization. If it does not accomplish one of these, an effort for increasing the personal productivity is likely to result in inefficiency
There are only two reasons to have any element or process in the organization. The first is that it produces the goods or services that the organization delivers to its customers. The second is that it supports those who generate or deliver those goods and services.
This general observation applies to both structural elements, and to internal processes. If any element is found not to produce, and not to contribute to productive performance in other areas of the organization, it can be eliminated (decreasing operating cost) without loss to performance.
Management does not generate products for organizational customers; it has value only as it supports performances by those who are managed. With current focus on non-productive efforts, such as working to achieve a paperless office, changes can be initiated without any clear expectation for creating new value or for reducing operating cost.
Intensive management is only effective when applied to critical processes. Improving the productivity of a single person or performance area has effect only if that increase will cause increase to organizational performance.
Applications of industrial engineering have affects on management. From our applications in production, we see that the purpose for having a manager is to add value to the performance processes of those who are managed.
Wherever a management effort neither produces something of value to organizational customers, nor supports the productive efforts of others, efficiency can be improved by abandoning that effort.
Remarkable Changes in Attitude and Approach:
THE principal object of management should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee.
Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, we need to learn from our history of performance management. Increasing what people do is a very limited approach to efficiency work. The benefits of industrial engineering accrue to all parties; there is reduction in work performance combined with increase in result.
effective management also aligns the efforts of managers and workers. Observing how the supportive attitude in
management brought workers and managers together in their efforts based on a
The writer has gone thus fully into Mr. Gilbreth’s method in order that it may be perfectly clear that this increase in output and that this harmony could not have been attained under the management of “initiative and incentive” (that is by putting the problem up to the workman and leaving him to solve it alone) which has been the philosophy of the past.
The Downside of Efficiency Engineering
Organizational Efficiency = Value produced / Cost of producing it
As was made
very clear in
As organizational output is often limited by what the organization can sell to its customers, the more-efficient production manager had to terminate some of those who had been working with him or her, who were likely to include personal friends.
The same effect can be expected when the principles of industrial engineering are applied to management and internal support efforts in the office environment. The number of management and internal support employees should be sharply reduced. While their efforts are reduced, their contribution to performance will increase, entitling them to higher pay and benefits. In order to secure the benefits, the senior manager will have to terminate people he personally knows and has worked with in the past.
As the production manager lost production workers when he increased productive efficiency, so the senior manager will lose management employees and internal support employees when he increases office-area efficiency.
The acceptance of this “cost of change” is part of the investment decision that management must make if it is to reap the benefits of remarkably improved performance management.