An Exceptional Father - Tribute to Frank Gilbreth
Looking Toward the Future and a Better Life for All
A Much Needed Rain
Rarely does it rain men like the husband, father, and businessmen described in the biography of Frank Gilbreth. Such men are the life giving waters that quench the desert of mediocrity that so many in America fall into without realization. Many come to think that there is nothing better to expect than a day-to-day survival in order to work, eat, sleep ad infinitum.
Even this mediocrity is a blessing in comparison to the terminal survival of the North Koreans forced to eat only a single meal per day of 2 ounces of rice and ground corn-cob gruel cut with poisonous non-foods as mandated by Dear Leader Kim Jong Il and his Government.
But is mediocrity in life enough? Frank Gilbreth did not believe so.
Power and ThoughtClick thumbnail to view full-size
Frank Bunker Gilbreth
After the American Civil War, Frank Gilbreth was born in 1868, two years before my grandfather.
My grandfather outlived three wives over the course of 90 years and had three sets of children (through the Great Depression of the 1930s) that worked on the two plots of farmland he owned adjacent to one another. These families raised everything they needed, going to town for staples, rather than grinding their own corn. Knowing a little about their lives brings me more understanding of that of Frank Gilbreth, his wife and their dozen children. Life on the farm in Easter Ohio was much harsher, with less technology than in the more industrialized Maine. However, life was not as easy for either of these men as it is today in a Hi Tech country. Frank Glibreth helped to make high technologies of the future happen before the 20th Century even took root.
In Maine, Gilbreth grew up to work as a bricklayer, building contractor, and engineer of management/inventor that began and perfected Time Motion Studies for increased workplace efficiency. The time he saved the American worker and businessman was well spent with family and friends, hobbies, and the invention of even more time-saving technologies for the future.
Gilbreth and Gilbreth, Inc. have not focused on the time factor (just cutting times by moving faster) - they focused on reducing the number and range of motions required (better organization), which makes bosses gape in wonder when an employee finishes quickly and thoroughly with a task when everyone else is frazzled!
Only one example, while on a temporary job at a shipping company after earning a masters degree and having learned Gilbreth's methods earlier, two young executives in new suits walked up to me on Tuesday and asked if I would be finished with my project by the of the week, to which I answered, "I'll be done in 20 MINUTES!" My reward was the task of calling a list of customers and telling them that the company had lost their packages. What fun!
I refused a full-time job at minimum wage, and so would have Frank, if he were not permitted some time of input into task methodologies.
Frank was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Taylor Society (another engineering group, of whom Taylor focused on moving faster not reducing motions). Gilbreth became a renowned lecturer at Purdue University in Indiana as well. Please see the link to Hot Jobs in Indiana for the emerging new technologies, businesses, and jobs available today.
A Dozen Children
Frank Gilbreth died in 1924, while my grandfather lived on farmlands for the most part until 1959. Gilbreth graduated from high school and my grandfather dropped out of school at the age of 8 in order to work two family farms full-time (his own father died the year the son was born).
Both men had a dozen children. Some of Gilbreth's offspring lived into the late 2000s, but all but one of my grandfather's were dead by the 1990s, likely of backbreaking physical and stressful business work as compared to Gilbreth's children.
Frederick Talyor of the Taylor Society, born in Pennsylvania, an engineer and and an early management consultant in the US, may or may not be a relative along the maternal side of my family. He, too, worked for efficiency and better technologies and was not only a president of the ASME, but also refined and advanced a certain class of slide rules.
Architect Michelle Kaufmann and Efficient Building
Lights and Fresh Rain
Partners in Science and Engineering
Where is my Frank Gilbreth? I have not found him yet, but Lillian Moller certainly found hers.
Lillian Gilbreth married Frank in 1904 after she had already worked with him in his time motion studies in bricklaying. In fact, the entire family later helped the couple perfect time and motion studies and experiment with new ideas in construction and engineering.
Frank Gilbreth invented the original concept of Continuous Improvement solidified and brought forward as a term by Claude George in 1968 and advanced by Six Sigma®.
Lilian earned an BA and MA from the University of California and a PhD. from Brown University. The first woman member of the ASME, she took over Frank's lecturing duties at Purdue and became equally well known and respected as a professor. She is the Madame Curie of engineering technologies and home economics efficiency, known for incorporating industrial psychology into management studies. This is used in Industrial Psychology and work related Public Health sectors today.
Working with Frank as a partner in a good marriage and healthy family supported Lilian to success that few women could have achieved from 1900 - 1972. Synergy is so much more than individual striving very often, especially unhindered by the competition between many couples in the 2000s.
All Things Gilbreth
- Frank B. Gilbreth Jr.
Writer: Cheaper by the Dozen and Cheaper by the Dozen 2.
- Gilbreth, Inc. Motivation in the Workplace
Employee motivation in the workplace article. This article focus on aspects of employee motivation, theory and practice as applied to in the workplace and includes extracts from organizational behavior research.
- The Gilbreth Network On Line
The Network was founded in 1996 by David Ferguson for the purpose of connecting people worldwide who are interested in the lives and work of engineers and efficiency experts Frank Gilbreth and Lillian Moller Gilbreth.
© 2009 Patty Inglish MS