Citations de Taylor en version originale

Dans le livre Le caché de La Poste, on trouve de nombreuses citations ou paraphrases de l’ingénieur étatsunien Frederick Winslow Taylor, insérées dans des dialogues imaginaires avec ce dernier. Lorsque j’emprunte directement ses mots, je le signale dans le livre par l’usage de l’italique et une note de fin indiquant la source.

Afin que le lecteur curieux puisse comparer mes emprunts et mes traductions à la version originale, je compile ici l’ensemble des extraits cités, chapitre par chapitre.

Chapitre 5

Taylor (1912), p. 6-7 : « I wish to state, however, that at no time have I personally called the system the “Taylor system”, nor have I ever advocated the desirability of calling it by that name. (…) Finally the name was agreed upon which I think is correct and which does represent the system better than any other name yet suggested, namely, “scientific management”. »

Taylor (1911b), p. 59 : « Now one of the very first requirements for a man who is fit to handle pig iron as a regular occupation is that he shall be so stupid and so phlegmatic that he more nearly resembles in his mental make-up the ox than any other type. »

Taylor (1911b), p. 40 : « This work is so crude and elementary in its nature that the writer firmly believes that it would be possible to train an intelligent gorilla so as to become a more efficient pig-iron handler than any man can be. »

Taylor (1911b), p. 53-54 : « Among several investigations which were undertaken at this time, one was an attempt to find some rule, or law, which would enable a foreman to know in advance how much of any kind of heavy laboring work a man who was well suited to his job ought to do in a day. »

Taylor (1911b), p. 40-41 : « It will be shown that the science of handling pig iron is so great and amounts to so much that it is impossible for the man who is best suited to this type of work to understand the principles of this science, or even to work in accordance with these principles without the aid of a man better educated than he is. And the further illustrations to be given will make it clear that in almost all of the mechanic arts the science which underlies each workman’s act is so great and amounts to so much that the workman who is best suited actually to do the work is incapable (either through lack of education or through insufficient mental capacity) of understanding this science. » Et p. 59 : «  He is so stupid that the word “percentage” has no meaning to him. »

Taylor (1911b), p. 140 : « And the time is coming when all great things will be done by that type of cooperation in which each man performs the function for which he is best suited. »

Taylor (1911b), p. 103-104 : « As has been pointed out, however, the underlying principles of the management of “initiative and incentive,” that is, the underlying philosophy of this management, necessarily leaves the solution of all of these problems in the hands of each individual workman, while the philosophy of scientific management places their solution in the hands of the management. The workman’s whole time is each day taken in actually doing the work with his hands, so that, even if he had the necessary education and habits of generalizing in his thought, he lacks the time and the opportunity for developing these laws, because the study of even a simple law involving say time study requires the cooperation of two men, the one doing the work while the other times him with a stop-watch. And even if the workman were to develop laws where before existed only rule-of-thumb knowledge, his personal interest would lead him almost inevitably to keep his discoveries secret, so that he could, by means of this special knowledge, personally do more work than other men and so obtain higher wages. »

Taylor (1912), p. 235 : « But the science of doing work of any kind cannot be developed by the workman. Why? Because he has neither the time nor the money to do it. The development of the science of doing any kind of work always required the work of two men, one man who actually does the work which is to be studied and another man who observes closely the first man while he works and studies the time problems and the motion problems connected with this work. No workman has either the time or the money to burn in making experiments of this sort. »

Taylor (1911b), p. 104 : « Under scientific management, on the other hand, it becomes the duty and also the pleasure of those who are engaged in the management not only to develop laws to replace rule of thumb, but also to teach impartially all of the workmen who are under them the quickest ways of working. »

Taylor, 1911b, p. 50-51 : « The writer had two advantages, however, which are not possessed by the ordinary foreman, and these came, curiously enough, from the fact that he was not the son of a working man. First, owing to the fact that he happened not to be of working parents, the owners of the company believed that he had the interest of the works more at heart than the other workmen, and they therefore had more confidence in his word than they did in that of the machinists who were under him. So that, when the machinists reported to the Superintendent that the machines were being smashed up because an incompetent foreman was overstraining them, the Superintendent accepted the word of the writer when he said that these men were deliberately breaking their machines as a part of the piece-work war which was going on, and he also allowed the writer to make the only effective answer to this vandalism on the part of the men, namely: “There will be no more accidents to the machines in this shop. If any part of a machine is broken the man in charge of it must pay at least a part of the cost of its repair, and the fines collected in this way will all be handed over to the mutual beneficial association to help care for sick workmen.” This soon stopped the wilful breaking of machines.

Second. If the writer had been one of the workmen, and had lived where they lived, they would have brought such social pressure to bear upon him that it would have been impossible to have stood out against them. »

Taylor (1911a), p. 121 : « There is no question that the cost of production is lowered by separating the work of planning and the brain work as much as possible from the manual labor. »

Taylor (1911a), p. 98-99 : « All possible brain work should be removed from the shop and centered in the planning or laying-out department, leaving for the foremen and gang bosses work strictly executive in its nature. »

Chapitre 8

Taylor (1911a), p. 73-74 : « In piece work of this class the task idea should always be maintained by keeping it clearly before each man that his average daily earnings must amount to a given high sum (…) and that failure to average this amount will surely result in his being laid off. (…) … the number of men employed on practically the same class of work should be large enough for the workmen quite often to have the object lesson of seeing men laid off for failing to earn high wages and others substituted in their places. »

Taylor (1912), p. 18 : « Now the cotton shirt and the cotton dress, cotton goods generally, have become an absolute daily necessity of all classes of mankind all over the civilized world. And this magnificent result (more magnificent for the working people than for any other portion of the community) has been brought about solely by this great increase in output so stubbornly fought against by the cotton weavers in 1840. It is in those changes which directly affect the poor – which give them a higher standard of living and make from the luxuries of one generation the necessities of the next that we can best see the meaning of an increase in the wealth of the world. »

Taylor (1912), p. 173-174 : « I would not use a man who would be “first-class” for this heavy work to do light work for which he would be second-class, and which could be just as well done by a boy who is first class for this work, and vice versa. »

Taylor 1912, p. 157 et 173-174 : « And I want to emphasize this fact, Mr. Chairman, which does not seem to be at all recognized by the world at large, that workmen differ just as much as horses differ. Now, we all know that there is a vast difference in horses. I do not mean anything degrading to the workman by this comparison, but I dare say some one will say that I am comparing workmen to beasts. We all know that horses differ, and yet very few people seem to recognize that there is an even greater difference between different members of the human species. There is just as much difference between laborers as there is between horses. (…) Now, what I mean by “first-class” men is set before you by what I mean by “first-class” horses. I mean that there are big powerful men suited to heavy work, just as dray horses are suited to the coal wagon, and I would not use a man who would be “first-class” for this heavy work to do light work for which he would be second-class, and which could be just as well done by a boy who is first class for this work, and vice versa. What I want to make clear is that each type of man is “first-class” at some kind of work, and if you will hunt far enough you will find some kind of work that is especially suited to him. But if you insist, as some people in the community are insisting (to use the illustration for horses again), that a task – say, a load of coal – shall be made so light that a pony can haul it, then you are doing a fool thing, for you are substituting a second-class animal (or man) to do work which manifestly should be done by a “first-class”’ animal (or man). »

Taylor (1912), p. 174 : « Now, there is another kind of “second-class” horse. We all know him. Among the “first-class” big dray horses that are hauling coal wagons you will find a few of them that will balk, a few of them that can haul, but won’t haul. »

Taylor (1911a), p. 30 : « This loafing or soldiering proceeds from two causes. First, from the natural instinct and tendency of men to take it easy, which may be called natural soldiering. Second, from more intricate second thought and reasoning caused by their relations with other men, which may be called systematic soldiering. »

Taylor (1911b), p. 20-21 : « The natural laziness of men is serious, but by far the greatest evil from which both workmen and employers are suffering is the systematic soldiering (…). The writer was much interested recently in hearing one small but experienced golf caddy boy of twelve explaining to a green caddy, who had shown special energy and interest, the necessity of going slow and lagging behind his man when he came up to the ball, showing him that since they were paid by the hour, the faster they went the less money they got, and finally telling him that if he went too fast the other boys would give him a licking. »

Taylor (1911b), p. 61-62 : « As to the scientific selection of the men, it is a fact that in this gang of 75 pig-iron handlers only about one man in eight was physically capable of handling 47,5 tons per day [d’un écrit de Taylor à l’autre, il est question de 45 ou 47,5 tonnes]. With the very best of intentions, the other seven out of eight men were physically unable to work at this pace. Now the one man in eight who was able to do this work was in no sense superior to the other men who were working on the gang. He merely happened to be a man of the type of the ox – no rare specimen of humanity, difficult to find and therefore very highly prized. On the contrary, he was a man so stupid that he was unfitted to do most kinds of laboring work, even. »

Taylor (1911a), p. 54-55 : « When the writer left the steel works, the Bethlehem piece workers were the finest body of picked laborers that he has ever seen together. They were practically all first-class men, because in each case the task which they were called upon to perform was such that only a first-class man could do it. The tasks were all purposely made so severe that no more than one out of five laborers (perhaps even a smaller percentage than this) could keep up. »

Taylor (1911b), p. 43-44 : « He was a little Pennsylvania Dutchman (…) We found that upon wages of $1,15 a day he had succeeded in buying a small plot of ground, and that he was engaged in putting up the walls of a little house for himself in the morning before starting to work and at night after leaving. » Pennsylvania Dutch désigne des descendants d’immigrés allemands (et non hollandais) arrivés aux États-Unis principalement aux XVIIè et XVIIIè siècle.

Taylor (1911b), p. 46, qui précise après avoir rapporté un dialogue fictif entre Schmidt et lui (où il contrefait à l’écrit le supposé accent de Schmidt) : « This seems to be rather rough talk. And indeed it would be if applied to an educated mechanic, or even an intelligent laborer. With a man of the mentally sluggish type of Schmidt it is appropriate and not unkind, since it is effective in fixing his attention on the high wages which he wants and away from what, if it were called to his attention, he probably would consider impossibly hard work. »

Taylor (1911), p. 48-49 : « For example, in the case of a man loading pig-iron on to a car, the elements should be: (a) picking up the pig from the ground or pile (time in hundredths of a minute) ; (b) walking with it on a level (time per foot walked) ; (c) walking with it up an incline to car (time per foot walked); (d) throwing the pig down (time in hundredths of a minute), or laying it on a pile (time in hundredths of a minute) ; (e) walking back empty to get a load (time per foot walked). »

Taylor (1911a), p. 32-33 : « The greater part of the systematic soldiering, however, is done by the men with the deliberate object of keeping their employers ignorant of how fast work can be done. »

Taylor (1896), p. 91 : « These elementary operations are then classified, recorded, and indexed, and when a piece-work price is wanted for work the job is first divided into its elementary operations, the time required to do each elementary operation is found from the records, and the total time for the job is summed up from these data. »

Chapitre 13

Taylor (1911b), p. 74 : « A long series of experiments, coupled with close observation, had demonstrated the fact that when workmen of this caliber are given a carefully measured task, which calls for a big day’s work on their part, and that when in return for this extra effort they are paid wages up to 60 per cent, beyond the wages usually paid, that this increase in wages tends to make them not only more thrifty but better men in every way; that they live rather better, begin to save money, become more sober, and work more steadily. »

Taylor, 1912, p. 41 : « The first of these principles, then, may be called the development of a science to replace the old rule-of-thumb knowledge of the workmen; that is, the knowledge which the workmen had, and which was, in many cases, quite as exact as that which is finally obtained by the management, but which the workmen nevertheless in nine hundred and ninety-nine cases out of a thousand kept in their heads, and of which there was no permanent or complete record. »

Taylor (1912), p. 40 : « The first of these four groups of duties taken over by the management is the deliberate gathering in on the part of those on the management’s side of all of the great mass of traditional knowledge, which in the past has been in the heads of the workmen, and in the physical skill and knack of the workmen, which he has acquired through years of experience. The duty of gathering in of all this great mass of traditional knowledge and then recording it, tabulating it, and, in many cases, finally reducing it to laws, rules, and even to mathematical formulae… »

Taylor (1912), p. 217 : « I tell you that those in the management are disciplined quite as severely as the workmen are. Scientific management is a true democracy. »

Taylor (1911a), p. 49 : « In case of important elements which were to enter into a number of rates, a large number of observations were taken when practicable on different first-class men, and at different times, and they were averaged. »

Taylor (1911a), p. 59 : « For each job there is the quickest time in which it can be done by a first-class man. This time may be called the “quickest time”, or the “standard time” for the job. »

Taylor (1911a), p. 168 : « Perhaps the greatest difficulty rests upon the fact that no two men work at exactly the same speed. »

Taylor (1911a), p. 168 : « Having obtained the best time of a first-class man, it is a simple matter to determine the percentage which an average man will fall short of this maximum. »

Taylor (1911a), p. 174-175 : « As the writer has said several times, the difference between the best speed of a first-class man and the actual speed of the average man is very great. One of the most difficult pieces of work which must be faced by the man who is to set the daily tasks is to decide just how hard it is wise for him to make the task. Shall it be fixed for a first-class man, and if not, then at what point between the first-class and the average? (…) The precise point between the average and the first-class, which is selected for the task, should depend largely upon the labor market in which the work is situated. If the works were in a fine labor market, such, for instance, as that of Philadelphia, there is no question that the highest standard should be aimed at. If, on the other hand, the shop required a good deal of skilled labor, and was situated in a small country town, it might be wise to aim rather lower. »

Taylor (1911a), p. 64 : « Each man’s task should call for a full day’s work, and at the same time the workman should be given such standardized conditions and appliances as will enable him to accomplish his task with certainty. »

Chapitre 17

Taylor (1911a), p. 49 : « The most difficult elements to time and decide upon in this, as in most cases, are the percentage of the day required for rest, and the time to allow for accidental or unavoidable delays. »

Taylor (1911b), p. 57 : « It is the law of heavy laboring, corresponding to the work of the cart horse, rather than that of the trotter. »

Taylor (1911b), p. 57 : « And the law is that for each given pull or push on the man’s arms it is possible for the workman to be under load for only a definite percentage of the day. »

Taylor (1911b), p. 57-59 : « For example, when pig iron is being handled (each pig weighing 92 pounds), a first-class workman can only be under loead 43 per cent of the day. He must be entirely free from load during 57 per cent of the day. (…) It will also be clear that in all works of this kind it is necessary for the arms of the workman to be completely free from load (that is, for the workman to rest) at frequent intervals. (…) If Schmidt had been allowed to attack the pile of 47 tons of pig iron without the guidance or direction or direction of a man who understood the art, or science, of handling pig iron, in his desire to earn his high wages he would probably have tired himself out by 11 or 12 o’clock in the day. »

Taylor (1911a), p. 166 : « In making time observations, absolutely nothing should be left to the memory of the student. Every item, even those which appear self-evident, should be accurately recorded. The writer, and the assistant who immediately followed him, both made the mistake of not putting the results of much of their time study into use soon enough, so that many times observations which extended over a period of months were thrown away, in most instances because of failure to note some apparently unimportant detail. »

Taylor (1912), p. 260-261 : « The whole subject of time study is only an approximation. There is nothing positively accurate about time study from end to end. All that we hope to do through time study is to get a vastly closer approximation as to time than we ever had before. That is one reason why we have to allow this big margin of safety, as I explained to you. A marginal allowance of from 20 per cent to 225 per cent is added to the observed time, so as to cover all kinds of uncertainties. »

Chapitre 19

Taylor (1911b), p. 38 : « « The man in the planning room, whose specialty under scientific management is planning ahead, invariably finds that the work can be done better and more economically by a subdivision of the labor ; each act of each mechanic, for example, should be preceded by varous preparatory acts done by other men. »

Chapitre 22

Taylor (1911b), p. 36 : « The management take on three other types of duties which involve new and heavy burdens for themselves. (…) First. They develop a science for each element of a man’s work, which replaces the old rule-of-thumb method. Second. They scientifically select and then train, teach, and develop the workman, whereas in the past he chose his own work and trained himself as best he could. »

Taylor (1911a), p. 72-73 : « When men are working on task work by the day they should be made to start to work at the regular starting hour. They should, however, have no regular time for leaving. As soon as the task is finished they should be allowed to go home; and, on the other hand, they should be made to stay at work until their task is done, even if it lasts into the night, no deduction being made for shorter hours nor extra pay allowed for overtime. It is both inhuman and unwise to ask a man, working on task work, to stay in the shop after his task is finished “to maintain the discipline of the shop”, as is frequently done. It only tends to make men eye servants.

An amusing instance of the value of task work with freedom to leave when the task is done was given the writer by his friend, Mr. Chas. D. Rogers, for many years superintendent of the American Screw Works, of Providence, R.I. (…). Mr. Rogers tried several modifications of day and piece work in an unsuccessful endeavor to get the children who were engaged in sorting over the very small screws to do a fair day’s work. He finally met with great success by assigning to each child a fair day’s task and allowing him to go home and play as soon as his task was done. Each child’s playtime was his own and highly prized while the greater part of his wages went to his parents. »

Chapitre 25

Taylor (1911b), p. 142 : « The general adoption of scientific management would readily in the future double the productivity of the average man engaged in industrial work. Think of what this means to the whole country. Think of the increase, both in the necessities and luxuries of life, which becomes available for the whole country, of the possibility of shortening the hours of labor when this is desirable, and of the increased opportunities for education, culture, and recreation which this implies. »


Taylor (1896), p. 92 : « One of the chief advantages derived from the above effects of the system is, that it promotes a most friendly feeling between the men and their employers, and so renders labor unions and strikes unnecessary. »

Taylor (1912), p. 213-214 : « What I want to make clear is that the old arbitrary way of having a dictator, who was at the head of the company, decide everything with his dictum, and having his word final, has ceased to exist. – The Chairman. Under our laws no judge would be permitted to sit in a case in which he had a personal interest. Now, under scientific management, with the power centered in the head of the establishment, would not the final judge in the case be a man who was interested in the outcome ? – Mr. Taylor. A final decision must be reached in all disputed cases by someone. – The Chairman. Yes. – Mr. Taylor. And if the decision were finally appealed it would probably go to the board of directors of the company, as the final appeal. »

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