Developed by Frederick Taylor, who was shocked at the inefficiency of a metal products foundry where he worked (much to the dismay of his wealthy family), “One Best Way” became perhaps the first of thousands of management fads that have been foisted upon the working world. In a nutshell, Taylor studied each step a worker took to complete a task, seeking to arrange the work setting to get the most efficient use of time, equipment, energy and materials. He then determined the average production a worker could be expected to complete in a work day, creating opportunity for incentive-based “raises,” identification of superior employees, evaluating employee performance, etc.
Not surprisingly, this was not all that popular with the working class, although “Taylorism” came to be applied rather extensively with the advent of World War I. (Interestingly, it’s worth noting that Taylor and his cohorts did build some “fudge factor” measures into the data, realizing that it was impractical to think that workers could maintain optimum levels of production for an entire shift.)
I ran into an alternative view of Taylorism a few years ago while reading the excellent book Free Agent Nation by Dan Pink (my review of it is in Shelfari, by the way). Pink changed the term to “Tailorism,” work that is designed to provide the highest degree of personal satisfaction, meeting the needs and desires of the employee. For the self-employed (Dan Pink’s primary audience in the book), this is done by fashioning your own career, becoming a true “Free Agent.”
However, for those of us who employ, are employed, or seeking employment as “Free Agents,” I see an equally useful application. As I identify the key skills, values and abilities for myself and those around me, seeking to find ways to apply them to my work and life, I can become something of a “Free Agent” for an organization. My “One Best Way” becomes the way that maximizes my contributions to the organization by tapping into what I have termed in earlier blogs as my “Best Stuff,” benefiting both me and my company. This same process can and should be applied to virtually everyone in the organization, seeking to assist them in identifying, applying, and fostering their “Best Stuff” daily.
Now, THAT’s a “One Best Way!”