Frederick Winslow Taylor

by Herbert N Casson

[Frederick Winslow Taylor was an inventor and engineer who developed manufacturing efficiencies and founded scientific management.]

Perhaps the secret of his success was his mastery of himself. He had the most dogged persistence that ever man had.

Once he began a job, nothing could make him quit until he had finished it. As he once admitted, his success was due to holding on with his teeth.

Once, when he was defining his idea of Character, he called it “the ability to do disagreeable things.”

Taylor believed that if a man only did what he liked to do he was a mere trifler. The main thing is to do what NEEDS to be done whether you like to do it or not. …

Taylor would not go out of his way one inch to please public opinion. He was the exact opposite of a politician. He cared nothing for opinions, not even for his own. His one aim was to FIND OUT WHAT OUGHT TO BE DONE. …

Taylor was not a genius. At any rate, he always denied vigorously that he was. He always said that he had no especial ability—just grit and common sense. He owed his success, in his own opinion, to what he called “PLAIN EVERYDAY PERSISTENCE.”

Taylor was a man of tremendous will power and independence. Above all, he was strong. No one could break him or bend him. Once he started to do a job, nobody could stop him.

He was rough. His language, when he was excited was too vividly personal and descriptive to be put into print. He swore. Once when a Parliamentary Committee reproved him for his language he said apologetically:

“I fear, gentlemen, that my early education was much neglected.”

There was no make-believe about Taylor. He had no patience with fools; and he scorned all humbug as only a strong man can.

His mind was too large to worry about split infinitives. If he had a collar and tie on, very well; if not, what matter? He spent no time on trifles.

He was well born, in the highest sense. His father’s ancestors were English Friends, and his mother was descended from a Puritan family named Spooner, who went to America in the Mayflower.

But Taylor cared nothing for birth and very little for education. He had no swank of any sort. He preferred workmen to professors. He was always a natural and straightforward man, whom everybody respected, and a few people loved.

He had very little liking for either labor leaders or directors. Most of his life he fought both. One was as bad as the other, he thought, in preventing improvements.

He did not believe in coddling workmen. He thought that they should be treated fairly and left alone to do as they liked with their own lives. …

Taylor worked WITH his men. He was not afraid of them. When they did wrong, he told them what he thought in a way that they never forgot. He was not an easy boss; but he was fair. He was always a man among men.

Even in his later life, when he was rich and famous, he considered himself as a worker; and he was never so happy as when he had his greasy overalls on in the middle of his men.

He believed in high wages, but he believed in men being workers, not bandits. He said that it was the duty of a company to give its workers a fair chance to earn as much as possible; then, if a worker slacked and balked, let him go elsewhere.

Give the job fair play, and there will be plenty of money for all of us—that was his doctrine.

He despised laziness, trickery and swank as a trinity of evil. He weeded them out of every factory he worked in.

He made work a pleasure by putting his brains into it. He lifted work up to the level of science.

He never put money first. Once he said, “All our inventions are made to produce human happiness.” …

In his last public address, made a few weeks before his death, he said—“We must always remember that the most important thing in any business is RIGHT RELATIONS.”