inception

Der wichtigste Produktionsfaktor im Handwerk des Unternehmers ist Information bzw. Wissen; seine Produktionsmittel sind ebenso wissensbasiert wie seine wichtigsten Produkte: seine Entscheidungen.
Die Produktivität und Qualität dieser Arbeit zu verbessern ist – ohne den richtigen Zugang – ungleich schwieriger als im Fall von manueller Arbeit. Signifikante Verbesserungen wurden dort nicht zuletzt durch Frederick Winslow Taylors neue Herangehensweise erreicht, Peter F. Drucker gibt dazu einen profunden Über- und Ausblick:

„The most important, and indeed the truly unique, contribution of management in the 20th century was the fifty-fold increase in the productivity of the MANUAL WORKER in manufacturing. The most important contribution management needs to make in the 21st century is similarly to increase the productivity of KNOWLEDGE WORK and the KNOWLEDGE WORKER.

The most valuable assets of a 20th-century company were its production equipment. The most valuable asset of a 21st-century institution, whether business or nonbusiness, will be its knowledge workers and their productivity. […]

Within a decade after Taylor first looked at work and studied it, the productivity of the manual worker began its unprecedented rise. Since then it […] has been risen fifty-fold […]. On this achievement rests all the economic and social gains of the 20th century. The productivity of the manual worker has created what we now call “developed” economies. […]

Taylor’s principles sound deceptively simple. The first step in making the manual worker productive is to look at the task and to analyze its constituent motions. […] The next step is to record each motion, the physical effort it takes and the time it takes. Then motions that are not needed can be eliminated—and whenever we have looked at manual work we found that a great many of the traditionally most hallowed procedures turn out to be waste and do not add anything. […]

Finally the tools needed to do the motions are being redesigned. And whenever we have looked at any job—no matter for how many thousands of years it has been performed — we have found that the traditional tools are totally wrong for the task. This was the case, for instance, with the shovel used to carry sand in a foundry — the first task Taylor studied. It was the wrong shape, it was the wrong size and it had the wrong handle. But we found it to be equally true of the surgeon’s traditional tools.

Taylor’s principles sound obvious—effective methods always do. But it took Taylor twenty years of experimentation to work them out. Over these last hundred years there have been countless further changes, revisions and refinements. The name by which the methodology goes has changed too over the century. Taylor himself first called his method “Task Analysis” or “Task Management.” Twenty years later it was rechristened “Scientific Management.” Another twenty years later, after the First World War, it came to be known as “Industrial Engineering” in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan, and as “Rationalization” in Germany.

[… What] made Taylor and his method so powerful has also made them unpopular. What Taylor saw when he actually looked at work violated everything poets and philosophers had said about work from Hesiod and Virgil to Karl Marx. […] Taylor’s definition of work as a series of operations also largely explains his rejection by the people who themselves do not do any manual work: the descendants of the poets and philosophers of old, the Literati and Intellectuals. Taylor destroyed the romance of work. […]

And yet every method during these last hundred years that has had the slightest success in raising the productivity of manual workers — and with it their real wages—has been based on Taylor’s principles, no matter how loudly its protagonists proclaimed their differences with Taylor. This is true of “work enlargement,” “work enrichment” and “job rotation”—all of which use Taylor’s methods to lessen the worker’s fatigue and thereby to increase the worker’s productivity. It is true of such extensions of Taylor’s principles of task analysis and industrial engineering to the entire manual work process as Henry Ford’s assembly line (developed after 1914, when Taylor himself was already sick, old and retired). It is just as true of the Japanese “Quality Circle,” of “Continuous Improvement” (“Kaizen”), and of “Just-In-Time Delivery.” The best example, however, is W. Edwards Deming’s (1900–1993) “Total Quality Management.” What Deming did—and what makes Total Quality Management effective—is to analyze and organize the job exactly the way Taylor did. But then he added, around 1940, Quality Control based on a statistical theory that was only developed ten years after Taylor’s death. Finally, in the 1970s, Deming substituted closed-circuit television and computer simulation for Taylor’s stopwatch and motion photos. But Deming’s Quality Control Analysts are the spitting image of Taylor’s Efficiency Engineers and function the same way. Whatever his limitations and shortcomings — and he had many — no other American, not even Henry Ford (1863–1947), has had anything like Taylor’s impact. “Scientific Management” (and its successor, “Industrial Engineering”) is the one American philosophy that has swept the world — more so even than the Constitution and the Federalist Papers. In the last century there has been only one worldwide philosophy that could compete with Taylor’s: Marxism. And in the end, Taylor has triumphed over Marx.

In the First World War Scientific Management swept through the United States—together with Ford’s Taylor-based assembly line. In the twenties Scientific Management swept through Western Europe and began to be adopted in Japan. In World War II both the German achievement and the American achievement were squarely based on applying Taylor’s principles to Training. The German General Staff after having lost the First World War, applied “Rationalization,” that is, Taylor’s Scientific Management, to the job of the soldier and to military training. This enabled Hitler to create a superb fighting machine in the six short years between his coming to power and 1939. In the United States, the same principles were applied to the training of an industrial workforce, first tentatively in the First World War, and then, with full power, in WW II. This enabled the Americans to outproduce the Germans, even though a larger proportion of the U.S. than of the German male population was in uniform and thus not in industrial production. And then training-based Scientific Management gave the U.S. civilian workforce more than twice—if not three times—the productivity of the workers in Hitler’s Germany and in Hitler-dominated Europe. Scientific Management thus gave the United States the capacity to outnumber both Germans and Japanese on the battlefield and yet to outproduce both by several orders of magnitude.

Economic development outside the Western world since 1950 has largely been based on copying what the United States did in World War II, that is, on applying Scientific Management to making the manual worker  productive. All earlier economic development had  been based on technological innovation — first in France in the 18th century, then in Great Britain from 1760 until 1850 and finally in the new economic Great Powers, Germany and the United States, in the second half of the 19th century. The non-Western countries that developed after the Second World War, beginning with Japan, eschewed technological innovation. Instead, they imported the training that the United States had developed during the Second World War  based on Taylor’s principles, and used it to make highly productive, almost overnight, a still largely unskilled and preindustrial workforce. (In Japan, for instance, almost two-thirds of the working population were still, in 1950, living on the land and unskilled in any work except cultivating rice.) But, while highly productive, this new workforce was still—for a decade or more— paid preindustrial wages so that these countries — first Japan, then Korea, then Taiwan and Singapore — could produce the same manufactured  products as the developed countries, but at a fraction of their labor costs. […]

Taylor’s approach was designed for manual work in manufacturing, and at first applied only to it. But even within these traditional limitations, it still has enormous scope. It is still going to be the organizing principle in countries in which manual work, and especially manual work in manufacturing, is the growth sector of society and economy, that is, “Third World” countries with very large and still growing numbers of young people with little education and little skill. But […] there is a tremendous amount of knowledge work — including work requiring highly advanced and thoroughly theoretical knowledge — that includes manual operations. And the productivity of these operations also requires Industrial Engineering.

Still, in developed countries, the central challenge is no longer to make manual work productive — we know, after all, how to do it. The central challenge will be to make knowledge workers productive. Knowledge workers are rapidly becoming the largest single group in the workforce of every developed country. They may already comprise two-fifths of the U.S. workforce — and a still smaller but rapidly growing proportion of the workforce of all other developed countries. It is on their productivity, above all, that the future prosperity and indeed the future survival of the developed economies will increasingly depend.“ Peter F. Drucker: Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Hervorhebungen durch mich.

Ohne Akzeptanz der Tatsache, dass auch Wissen selbst (unabhängig von seiner jeweiligen inhaltlichen Ausprägung) grundsätzlich schadhaft sein kann, gibt es kaum gezielte Lösungen für dieses Problem. Insbesondere die undifferenzierte Anwendung von im Bereich manueller Arbeit erfolgreichen Rationalisierungsmaßnahmen ist dabei hochproblematisch.

Und ohne ein empirisch valides Verständnis von Wissen(squalität), das sich eben nicht in einem symbolischen Regress bewegt, bleiben Veränderungsversuche tendentiell auf dem Niveau von (i.d.R. ideologisierten) Meinungsdiskussionen (und Wissensaspekte sind schließlich kulturell deutlich tiefer verankert als die von Drucker oben zitierten romantisierten Vorstellungen manueller Arbeit).

fractal

Das Phänomen der qualitativen Desinformation stellt eine zentrale Barriere der intelligent(er)en Organisation von Organisationen dar. Die Passive Desinformation bietet einen kulturell, politisch und ideologisch konsensfähigen, neutralen Ansatzpunkt für signifikante Verbesserungen. Ihre Behandlung eröffnet grundlegend neue, einfache Lösungen für die zunehmend komplexeren Probleme der Wissensarbeit.

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