Taylorism and Operational Excellence Improving on the “One Best Way”

Michael J. Urick, David E. Adams, Terrance Smith


Scientific Management (or Taylorism) has often received criticism because of its strict adherence to “the one best way.” However, some major components, such as standardization, are useful to continuous improvement initiatives in organizations as long as such initiatives also consider the “human elements” (i.e. employee involvement, social norms, culture, employee development, team cohesiveness, etc.) of work. This paper suggests the Operational Excellence management philosophy is an improvement on Taylor’s “one best way” by incorporating elements found from the Human Relations approach and considers that a more appropriate phrase would be “the one best way…for now” to allow for flexible standardization.

Keywords: operational excellence, scientific management, taylorism, human relations

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