Was recently reading the story of Frederick Winslow Taylor‘s display at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle and was extremely amazed how Taylor was able to take a favorite agile mantra of mine, failing fast, and really revolutionize the steel industry. At the time it was common place for a steel mill to produce roughly 9 feet of steel per minute. The presentation which was a smaller replica of Taylor’s factory was able to product steel at a staggering 50 feet per minute. Taylor’s breakthrough was often compared to the creation of the electric light and was even refereed to as a major landmark in the history of mankind. But how was Taylor able to create such a mind boggling achievement? Magic? A pact with the devil? The answer lies in one of the great hallmarks of agile transformation….Taylor was largely able to accomplish this through trial and error, or as we like to call it, failing fast.
Through a series of experiments Taylor had determined the perfect conditions for creating steel, everything from the optimal temp to cut the steel, the optimal method to use water to cool the lathe, and the optimal speed to run the conveyor belts.
Taylor was able to revolutionize the steel industry by simply approaching his processes with a healthy curiosity for improvement and a willingness to fail fast. Sure in the early days his progress was very poor and unprofitable but by persevering through the difficult times and staying focused on the end game Taylor was able to rise to complete dominance in his industry