How relevant is Taylorism for businesses in the 21st century?
Taylorism is just as relevant today as it ever was for many businesses, but there are a growing number of businesses for whom Taylorism is not and cannot be relevant.
Taylorism was the idea that workplaces should be analyzed scientifically so as to devise ways to make the work go more quickly. Consultants following Taylor’s ideas did things like looking at the shape and size of shovels being used to shovel various things at a steel-producing plant. They found that it was more efficient to have different sizes and shapes of shovels for shoveling different things. What these people were doing was trying to make workplaces more efficient.
Today, firms that produce goods need to be just as efficient as ever. There is so much competition that firms have to be as efficient as possible. If they are not, they will be outcompeted and driven out of business. For such firms, Taylorism is still relevant.
However, there are many firms today that specialize in work that requires creativity and brain power, not just physical movements. For example, the creation of a new operating system like Windows 8 does not simply require efficient physical motion. Instead, it requires people to use their brains and to, at times, be creative. Taylorism is much less relevant for such firms because it is impossible to set up systems that guarantee creativity or that guarantee that people will think efficiently.