The closest parallel to today’s challenge of advancing Lean management lies in the work done by proponents of Scientific Management 75 years ago. It was then they realized for certain that their movement would not gain broader acceptance nor be correctly applied unless the people who ran businesses exhibited a completely different type of leadership.
The challenges we face today in advancing Lean management are strikingly similar to what the proponents of Scientific Management faced in the 1920s. Around that time they began to realize that while the impact of Scientific Management in industry over the prior 30 years was substantial, it had fallen well short of expectations in terms of the level of improvement that could have been achieved and the favorable outcomes they anticipated key stakeholders would realize.
This was due largely to the widespread misunderstanding of Scientific Management as a set of efficiency improvement tools, rather than as a system of management that consisted of both principles and tools. The principle that people seemed to forget or ignore was the “intimate cooperation of the management with the workmen” . Today, in Lean management, this idea is more fully developed and called the “Respect for People” principle [2-5].
One prominent and tireless advocate of Scientific Management was Harlow S. Person (1875-1955), who served as a managing director and later as president of The Taylor Society in New York City from the mid-1920s to the late 1940s. He lived during a unique window of time; one that allowed him to witness Scientific Management take hold in industry and eventually fade away – though parts of it still live on today, albeit in different forms.
Mr. Person spent the better part of his life trying to dispel the myths and correct misapplications of Scientific Management, and help people gain an accurate understanding of its principles and practices. As professor  and later Dean of Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck School of Administration and Finance, Person promoted the teaching of “employment management” in graduate courses in 1910. He hosted the first conference in Scientific Management in the United States on 12-14 October 1911. In 1915, Person offered training programs in Scientific Management to industrial managers. The program for managers required the completion of a paper investigating a work-related problem .
Despite the dedicated efforts of many management practitioners, academic, and consultants over the first 25 years of Scientific Management’s existence, Frederick Taylor (1856-1915), author of the 1911 book The Principles of Scientific Management, observed in 1912 that:
“…nine-tenths of our trouble has been to ‘bring’ those on the management’s side to do their fair share of the work and only one-tenth of our trouble has come on the workman’s side” .
In other words, the managers were not getting it done. Up until the late 1920, the failings of managers were described as their resistance to developing a “new mental attitude of the management toward the men [laborers],” and that Scientific Management could not exist if this new mental attitude were not possessed by the top managers of a company. The “new mental attitude” was described by Taylor in 1912 as going from a zero-sum to a non-zero sum view of business :
“…the first step towards scientific management… [a] complete change in the mental attitude of both sides [labor and management]; of the substitution of peace for war; the substitution of hearty brotherly cooperation for contention and strife; of both pulling hard in the same direction instead of pulling apart; of replacing suspicious watchfulness with mutual confidence; of becoming friends instead of enemies… is the very essence of scientific management, and scientific management exists nowhere until after this has become the central idea… the mechanism [tools] is nothing if you have not got the right sentiment…”
In 1947, Mr. Person said :
“In the course of his testimony before the House committee [to Investigate the Taylor and Others Systems of Shop Management], Taylor was asked how many concerns [companies] used his system in its entirety. His reply was: ‘In its entirety – none, not one.’ Then, in response to another question he went on to say that a great many used it substantially, to a greater or less degree. Were Mr. Taylor alive to respond to the same question in 1947, – thirty-five years later – his reply would have to be substantially the same.”
Thus, not much progress was made in the second 25+ years of Scientific Management’s existence, principally because managers did not comprehend cause-and-effect relationships between the application of new methods and tools in relation to people. Nor did they comprehend the importance of the principles and how they function as practical benchmarks for guiding management thinking and decision-making.
For many years, the simple characterization of senior managers needing a “new mental attitude” was the common way in which the problem was expressed. Taylor and his followers did not understand this explicitly as a leadership problem because leadership, as a field of study, was in its infancy. It was not until the mid-to-late 1920s that academics began conceptualizing leadership and writing books on the topic for management practitioners [11,12].
In terms of Scientific Management, the “new mental attitude” problem transitioned into being a leadership problem in the late 1920s. Harlow Person picked up on this and wrote about it starting in 1929, in a paper titled “Leadership in Scientific Management” . He said:
“Attempts to develop scientific management have in general been successful in direct proportion to the degree to which those who have initiated and directed its development have possessed genuine qualities of leadership. And the failures attributed to scientific management have generally been failures of leadership in initiating and guiding its development, particularly the order, rate and extent of development.” (p. 427)
Executives who put in the effort to study, participate, and understand the new management system will succeed, while those who don’t invariably fail – and end up blaming the new management system, not themselves.
“The first conspicuous weakness of leadership in this respect may be failure to realize that there is involved the problem of integrating radically different types of executives in an organization where the mental attitudes and habits have originally been dominated and set by one particular type. We know of no instance in which an enterprise has been startedwith the ideal application of the Taylor principles and an original executive staff designed for that purpose. That ideal usually comes later with a problem of reorganization to meet new and sometimes embarrassing industrial conditions.” (p. 427)
This should not be news to anyone who knows the recent history of Lean management. A primary mode by which Lean transformations fail is when one or two executives understand Lean, but the others don’t. In order to succeed, all executives need to develop a deep and uniform understanding of the Lean management system. Referring it as “Lean manufacturing” will give every executive other than the one responsible for manufacturing a good reason to ignore it. Also, most managers get involved with Lean because the company has a severe performance problem, not because they really want to do it.
“… [for] promoter type [executives]… Neither temperament nor motive incline them to be interested in the details involved in operating procedures… [they are] known as the go-getter type so characteristic of frontier industry and a seller’s market. It is this promoter and go-getter type of executive which usually dominates an enterprise in its early years and determines mental attitudes and practices. With the introduction of scientific management, however, there arises a new type of executive interested in designing a precise and waste-saving system of interlocking methods… an engineering type of executive.…[the] go-getter type drives straight to results regardless of methods and cost… But while the forceful go-getter type of executive will always be essential, managers have come to realize that an organization must be balanced by the inclusion of the thinking, investigating, planning type of executive… [who] has regard for efficiency and economy of methods… Even the go-getter executive, so useful in the early days of an enterprise, must become a thinking, planning executive after the enterprise is well established as a going concern.” (pp. 427-428)
What Mr. Person is saying is that different types of executives are needed for different stages of an organization’s existence. Similarly, different types of executives are needed for different types management systems: conventional management versus Scientific Management – and exactly the same is true for conventional management versus Lean management. So has anything been done in the last 75 years to help people understand these differences as it pertains to Lean management. The answer is yes: in 2003 and 2004 I wrote or co-wrote papers that describe, in comprehensive and detailed ways, the specific differences in beliefs, behaviors, and competencies between leaders of Lean compared to conventionally managed businesses [14,15]. These papers answer long-standing questions and provide practical actions that managers can take to improve.
Person makes two other interesting points in this passage. The first relates to the “frontier industry and a seller’s market,” where a company is able to sell as much as it can make. Managers who grow up in a seller’s market develop “mental attitudes and practices” for that type of market. As a business matures, competitors enter the business and change it into a buyer’s market. If the seller’s market “mental attitudes and practices” don’t change, then the company will likely face a “problem of reorganization to meet new and sometimes embarrassing industrial conditions.”
The second point relates to managers who “do” compared to those who “think,” and those managers who both “think and do.” Person compares executives who are “doers,” the go-getter types, to the engineering-type of executive who thinks, investigates, plans, etc. Possessing one skill or the other may be appropriate at any given point in time, but strengths can easily turn into weaknesses. Importantly, Mr. Person notes that the go-getter executive must develop new skills to avoid becoming handicapped. As you can imagine or may already know, the better executives would possess both skills. And by the way, that’s exactly what the best Lean leaders are good at – thinking and doing.
“…the fact should be recognized that the development of scientific management first of all compels the rebuilding of the executive group so that it shall represent a proper balance of these types working together sympathetically and understandingly for a common purpose… the harmonizing of these types of executives involves the breaking down of well-established organization habits and the building up of new executive habits… It is no small matter to introduce a new type of executive and evolve (to create is impossible) in the reorganized group a new integration of habit relationships.” (p. 429-430)
Doing this is not as hard as was once thought. Please read references  and  to learn how to do it.
Mr. Person quotes the industrialist James Mapes Dodge on his views regarding the problem of introducing Scientific Management into an organization. Mr. Dodge uttered these words at the Scientific Management conference at the Amos Tuck School in October 1911:
“He will of course find, when he [the owner] approaches his subordinates and they in varying degrees accept his views with the feeling that something can be done of advantage to the establishment, that in no case will his leading men consider that anything in this new-fangled management business should be in any way applied to them, though they can see with greater or less degree of certainty that it would be admirable for everybody else in the place. The problem of overcoming this mental condition is the most difficult of all. The very fact that the leading men of an establishment are beholden to their cleverness and independence of thought for their promotion makes it certain that they will not hesitate to combat the views of their superior, if in their judgment it seems best.” (p. 430).
Mr. Dodge is describing classic passive-aggressive (obstructionist) behavior. Managers voice agreement with the boss, but then work to resist or undermine the boss. Anyone who has been involved in a Lean transformation knows exactly what Mr. Dodge is talking about. In 1998 I coined the term “behavioral waste”  to describe this and other behaviors which add cost but do not add value, and also described countermeasures .
Mr. Person goes on to say:
“…[an] absence of appreciation [among leaders] that the development of scientific management is an educational process… [all the changes that must occur] cannot be achieved by fiat… And the educational technique cannot be that of the birch rod, but must be of persistent, patient leadership in the common discovery of laws of managerial situations which impersonally compel understanding and conviction and attract desire and voluntary disciplined cooperation throughout the organization.” (pp. 431-432)
Then, like now, leaders who mandate change will certainly achieve some gains, but they will also witness significant backslide and likely the overall failure of their efforts. In addition, most change efforts are caused by financial distress or the desire by management to achieve short-term gains. These leaders fail to realize that Lean is a learning process. Short-term thinking is not conducive to the type of learning that is needed to succeed over the long-term as Toyota and others have done. In addition, Mr. Person makes note of the strong desire and discipline that an entire management team must possess in order to learn a new system of management. The effort that most managers put into learning Lean is so small that were they to put in the same effort learning to play guitar, the only song they would ever know is the one-minute beginner’s classic “Ode to Joy.”
Mr. Person then describes some specific characteristics of leadership that are required of executives who expect to succeed with Scientific Management:
“Leadership is not passive; it is an active composite ability to induce (not impose) understanding, conviction, desire and action in a manner which leaves no disturbing impression of the mechanics of the induction… As a leader he must have energy, enthusiasm, imagination, intelligence, technical knowledge, knowledge of human nature, faith in people; and qualifying all of these, a special quality of sympathetic interest towards those led. Not only must he manifest these characteristics in his relations with those major associate executives with whom he has immediate contact, but also he must inspire all of them to desire and learn how to become creative leaders in relations with their immediate associates.” (p. 432)
These characteristics appear again and again in cases where the Lean transformation has succeeded across the enterprise . Mr. Person then observed that sub-units of corporations often do well with Scientific Management:
“But throughout American industry are many instances of the development of scientific management, under the leadership of subdepartment executives, in the departments of an enterprise for which they have responsibility.” (p. 432)
As an examination of Shino Prize-winning companies easily shows, there are many managers who have made noteworthy progress at the plant-level, but much less so at the enterprise-level.
Person had hope that better days would come:
“When in the course of time these departmental managers have carried their departmental experiences to positions of top leadership, transformations of entire enterprises will become more frequent.” (p. 433)
This has happened today, but not widely so, as executives from companies who have had some success with Lean management at lower levels became presidents of companies. To be sure, there is no such thing as a ready-made Lean leader. Lean must be learned step-by-step, in each position held, as a person ascends the hierarchy of an organization.
Next, Mr. Person tells why executives resisted the introduction of Scientific Management:
“The chief executive must necessarily present the proposition, to undertake the development of scientific management, to his associate executives, as a systematic whole – as a doctrine and complete body of procedures – because he is presenting a matter of future policy. It must be so presented to them because they must become agents of its development, and as such they must comprehend it in advance in its entirety. The magnitude of the picture appalls them and stimulates the active emergence of every mental and temperamental objection. They see that it means the upsetting of a complex set of procedures to which they are accustomed: they envision the ultimate aggregate of changes in a single picture, without realizing that the changes will come about only gradually and their adjustments will have to be made only gradually.” (pp. 433-434)
But why were workers more accepting of Scientific Management compared to executives?
“On the other hand it is usually presented to workers not as a doctrine, not as a complete system of which the details and consequences must be constructed in their imaginations, but, as successive small increments of procedure, one at a time, each of which is comprehensible, is demonstrated, proved out, and become familiar before the next is presented. Workers also by temperament and experience are more accustomed to respond to suggestions than are individualistic executives. In short, the executive group is difficult because scientific management must be presented to them as a philosophy, doctrine and inclusive system; the worker group is not difficult because the new methods are presented to it by increments each of which means a relatively small and comprehensible change.” (p. 434)
This indicates that the presentation of Lean to executives has been, in many cases, wrong. Either it is presented incorrectly as tools or a “manufacturing thing,” or as so enormous a change that executives can’t follow it and quickly lose interest. It suggests that to gain wider acceptance for Lean, its advocates should anticipate this specific negative reaction and be prepared to address it by providing detailed explanations of the “Continuous Improvement” principle and its practical application. Likewise, the “Respect for People” principle must be explained in detail and with many examples of its practical application. Once executives gain an accurate understanding of Lean management, the next step is to ensure that the leaders do not become lost in their Lean transformation .
Finally, failure to adjust to the feedback from executives could one day make Lean management go the way of Scientific Management. Indeed, just a few years ago academics and consultants began touting “Innovation” as the next big thing after Lean.
M.L. “Bob” Emiliani is a faculty member in the School of Technology at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Conn. and President of The Center for Lean Business Management, LLC. Before joining CCSU, Bob worked for 20 years in manufacturing and service industries, and has implemented Lean principles and practices on the manufacturing shop floor, in supply networks, and in higher education. Bob is the principal author of the 2003 Shingo Prize winning book Better Thinking, Better Results, a detailed case study and analysis of The Wiremold Company’s Lean transformation from 1991 to 2001. For more information, please visithttp://www.theclbm.com. Copyright © 2007 by The CLBM, LLC.
 F.W. Taylor, The Principles of Scientific Management, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, NY, 1911, p. 115. In a nutshell, Scientific
Management can be described as a system of production management that, if done correctly, resulted in a much more efficient
batch-and-queue (push) production system; 2-3 times more efficient than basic batch-and-queue production. Its application was
later extended to non-production activities and to non-manufacturing industries. Its main foci were “betterment” of the work and
“cooperation” among the management and the workers. Some of its principles, methods, and tools are the same or similar to that
found in Lean management.
 “The Toyota Way 2001,” Toyota Motor Corporation, internal document, Toyota City, Japan, April 2001
 B. Emiliani, REAL LEAN: Understanding the Lean Management System, The CLBM, LLC, Kensington, Conn., 2007,
 “Origins of Lean Management in America: The Role of Connecticut Businesses”, by M.L. Emiliani, Journal of Management History,
Vol. 12, No. 2, pp. 167-184 2006, http://www.theclbm.com/articles/lean_in_conn.pdf
 See B. Emiliani, with D. Stec, L. Grasso, and J. Stodder, Better Thinking, Better Results: Case
Study and Analysis of an Enterprise-Wide Lean Transformation, 2nd Edition, 2007, The CLBM, LLC, Kensington, Conn.,
 Harlow S. Person obtained a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan in 1903.
 D. Wren, The History of Management Thought, 5th Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY, 2005, p. 189
 “Taylor’s Testimony Before the Special House Committee” in Scientific Management: Comprising Shop Management, Principles of
Scientific Management, Testimony Before the House Committee, F.W. Taylor, with foreword by Harlow S. Person,
Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, NY, 1947, p. 43
 Reference , pp. 30, 62
 H.S Person in reference , p. xii
 E.H. Schell, The Technique of Executive Control, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York, NY, 1924
 O. Tead, The Art of Leadership, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York, NY, 1935
 “Leadership in Scientific Management,” Harlow S. Person in Scientific Management in American Industry, The Taylor Society,
Harper and Brothers Publishers, New York, NY, 1929, pp. 427-439
 M.L. Emiliani, “Linking Leaders’ Beliefs to Their Behaviors and Competencies,” Management Decision, Vol. 41, No. 9,
pp. 893-910, 2003
 M.L. Emiliani and D.J. Stec, “Using Value Stream Maps to Improve Leadership,” Leadership and Organizational Development
Journal, Vol. 25, No. 8, pp. 622-645, 2004
 M.L. Emiliani, “Lean Behaviors,” Management Decision, Vol. 36, No. 9, pp. 615-631, 1998
 M.L. Emiliani, “Continuous Personal Improvement,” Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 29-38, 1998
 M.L. Emiliani and D.J. Stec, “Leaders Lost in Transformation,” Leadership and Organizational Development Journal, Vol. 26, No. 5,
pp. 370-387, 2005