Who was Phil Carroll?

From Origins of Industrial Engineering by Emerson and Naehring

Phil Carroll built on and expanded the work of Taylor and Gilbreth. He felt that consultants should believe in and adhere to certain principles. The primary concept that guided him was what we now call “standard data,” the idea that all jobs represent various combinations of the same elementary motions making it possible to set standards on complex jobs by adding each motion involved together.

From his start in consulting, Carroll was careful to separate indirect labor from direct labor. He operated on Taylor’s indication that work done in the past by workmen should be divided into two parts, with one part to be taken over by management. This was probably due to management’s failure to plan, specify, and follow-up on projects.

Unlike Taylor and Gilbreth, who said that one should perfect a method before making a time study of it, Carroll studied the job as he found it. His philosophy was to make saving through improving productivity before spending money to make changes.

Carroll built his consulting life around one direct objective, that of improving time study fundamentals. He thought of time study as the basis for other engineering and management action. In correspondence with Howard Emerson, Carroll wrote, “I am striving to get a correct foundation for inventory, part costs, overhead distribution and cost of sales. This notion will become increasingly important as we move into ‘management systems’.” His consulting work involved him in providing the data for such systems.

Carroll deserves credit for certain innovations, inventions, and improved procedures. He had an important part in the development of performance films. In December 1938 he gave a talk at a Society for the Advancement of Management (SAM) annual conference in which he said, “It is necessary to rate each time study in terms of some pace.” As a result of further discussion on this matter and of Ralph Presgrave’s paper on effort rating in October 1939, the suggestion was made that SAM form a rating committee. This committee developed the pioneer SAM films which were widely used in industries and universities. Carroll accumulated a library of 150 rating films.

Carroll patented a time study machine and was involved in the development of multiple and variable charting. The latter is described his book, How to Chart Time Study Data, published in 1950.

In addition to his contributions of serving as an officer and committeeman for many societies, and in publishing widely accepted factory textbooks, Carroll spread his industrial engineering know how and management philosophy through presentations and seminars at plants, universities, and other organizations.

He lived in the same town and was a close friend of Lillian Gilbreth. In 1969 he was awarded the Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Industrial Engineering Award. He also received the Wallace Clark award from SAM in 1965 and the Gantt Medal of 1949-1953 from ASME. A summary of his work and an expression of the respect that industrial engineers felt for Carroll are presented in the following excerpt from an obituary statement in the December, 1971 issue of Industrial Engineering:

A Fellow of AIIE, Phil was active in its local and national affairs, and served as a Director of the Work Measurement and Methods Engineering Division. In 1969 he received the Frank Gilbreth Industrial Engineering Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the profession.

Other honors accorded Phil include Fellowship in the International Academy of Management and SAM’s Gilbreth Medal and Taylor Key. He was a past president of SAM and a member of ASME, Alpha Pi Mu, Tau Beta Pi as well as AIIE. He held BS and MS degrees from the University of Michigan.

Phil’s strength as an advocate of sound principles will be a great loss to the IE profession.