Prior to the eighteenth century most of the things we needed in everyday life were handmade. A craftsman would take raw materials and produce a candlestick, saddle or pair of shoes from beginning to end, and then trade them at a local market. Over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the far-reaching social and economic changes that we now refer to as the Industrial Revolution completely changed this. One of the most significant shifts involved breaking up the process of, for example, wheel-making into smaller activities to improve productivity. In 1776 the Scottish economist and social philosopher Adam Smith described how output in a pin factory was

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increased through the division of labour in his famous work, the title of which is commonly abbreviated to Wealth of Nations. Smith observed that a factory where one man ‘draws out the wire’, another ‘straights it’, a third ‘cuts it’ and a fourth ‘points it’ might produce tens of thousands of pins a day, whereas a pin factory where each worker produces a pin from start to finish would produce ‘very few’. The specialisation of labour was the origin of the business process and the birth of the process world. Farmers and artisans didn’t live in the process world. They had no need for structured tasks, methods and interfaces. Hatters, potters and blacksmiths concerned themselves with making better hats, pots and tools. Discussions about how they did it were limited to passing on their craft to an apprentice rather than on refining the steps involved in order to increase profit. If they found themselves with what we today call a ‘rush order’, then they would enlist the help of a journeyman, the equivalent of a temporary worker who had the right skills to help them. Productivity improvements came through an extra pair of hands. However, the efficient management of interdependent tasks in the manufacturing processes that produce a pin or a pot became a new source of economic value. Process engineering in the process world became indispensable, and in large and complex businesses a focus for improvements that would underpin growth and competitive edge. The process world required new disciplines and specialisations that extended way beyond the manufacturing process. The company was transformed over the twentieth century into one that created entirely new disciplines that shaped the modern company into human resources, finance, operations and sales and marketing departments. By the late twentieth century a third of the global labour force were not even involved in manufacturing or agriculture, they were involved in something that would furrow the brow of a furrier – ‘service industry’.