Robo-signing foreclosure mess – applying auto assembly Taylor logic to services?

Fredrick Taylor famously did “time and motion” studies to improve productivity in the automobile industry. The American auto worker, pressured to produce more –  did always honestly give a bolt the number of turns required. We seem to not understand how or if  Taylor’s principles apply to the service economy.

It now turns out that unqualified- temprary-hourly wage  people were “robo -signing” 500 foreclosure documents a day. Stating that they “personally knew ” the details of the case. Some defaulting home owners  got less than a month to leave their homes. Some of those who bought these distress properties because of  bargain prices, with their own money,  did not buy the annoying title insurance you are required to buy if you take out a mortgage.  It turns out that this might be one time where a foreclosed home  buyer might really need that title insurance.

We don’t fully understand the nature of services and the extent to which you can apply ‘time and motion” concepts of the Taylor auto assembly line to service encounters be they foreclosure papers, a doctor visit or just a hair salon trip.Our tendency to consider every service provider as a replacable cog in the auto assembly line is at the root of this kind of mess. In the old days the banker had to personally know the individual seeking the loan and really make sure about the income as well as the local reputation of the individual if it was a business loan. Today, even grocery store bank branches, open on weekends and swearing by “local customer relationships” seem to have personnel that keep getting moved around. The new person is evaluated on “productivity” and signing 500 sheets a day does sound productive !

One feels bad for everyone involved in this mess including the bank managers who had been just trying to do all the “legal” paperwork at the fastest,lowest cost possible . Hopefully more light will shine on this difficult situation when the house panel of representatives hear the matter after the elections on November 18.

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