Scientific Management 2.0

130 years ago, Frederick Taylor changed the world forever.

Scientific Management is the now-obvious idea that factories would measure precisely what their workers were doing. Use a stopwatch. Watch every movement. Adjust the movements until productivity goes up. Re-organize the assembly line for more efficiency. Pay people by the piece. Cull the workforce and get rid of the people who can’t keep up. Make the assembly line go faster.

Once Scientific Management goes beyond system setup and starts to focus on the individual, it amplifies the gulf between management and labor. No one wants to do their work under the stopwatch (except, perhaps, Usain Bolt).

And now, here comes SM2.0.

White collar workers, the people who get to sit down at a desk, the folks with a keyboard not a hammer, can now be measured more than ever. And in competitive environments, what can be measured, often is.

Badge in, badge out.

How many keystrokes per hour?

How many incoming customer service calls handled per day?

What’s the close rate, the change in user satisfaction, the clickthroughs, the likes?

You can see where this is heading, and it’s heading there fast:

You will either be seen as a cog, or as a linchpin. You will either be measured in a relentless race to the bottom of the cost barrel, or encouraged in a supportive race to doing work that matters, that only you can do in your unique way.

It’s not easy to be the person who does unmeasurable work, but is there any doubt that it’s worth it?