We don’t need more spreadsheet vicars

Nov 26, 2020 by

by Giles Fraser, UnHerd:

“It is only through enforced standardization of methods, enforced adoption of the best implements and working conditions, and enforced cooperation that this faster work can be assured. And the duty of enforcing the adoption of standards and enforcing this cooperation rests with the management alone.”

With these words from Frederick Winslow Taylor, the so-called science of management consultancy came into being. And an era of misery began for those on the receiving end. In time, the language softened, the management gurus discovered technology and a smarter bedside manner, but the principles remained roughly the same.

Perhaps it is my inner Marxist struggling to get out – Gramsci said Taylorism inevitably gave rise to thoughts of revolution – but I was reminded of Taylor’s guiding principles as I looked through the recent directive from head office, outlining the new thinking on the organisational structures of the Church of England. The report is a series of impenetrable soul-sapping flow charts and space-ship style infographics that make those graphic medieval explanations of the trinity look like child’s play. It’s a powerpoint friendly “Vision of the Church of England in the 2020’s”. It seems the bishops have had the management consultants in. And the result is thoroughly depressing.

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