A century ago, Frederick Taylor introduced scientific management principles to the world of business. His time-and-motion rules were a smart way to maximize production in the steel industry (their original purpose) and in other jobs involving repetitive tasks, but they have precious little applicability today—a time when value is derived less from mechanistic functions than from innovation and ideas. And yet we continue to see Taylorian techniques in businesses everywhere, from companies’ remorseless insistence on detailed time sheets (even in businesses that don’t bill for time) to ongoing attempts to eliminate distractions (e.g., banning social media and personal phone calls).
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