Why Did The Industrial Age End?

by Kenneth Lange  

Each historical age is defined by a challenge. The challenge of the industrial age was productivity. The human needs and wants simply exceeded was could be produced by pre-industrial means.


Van Gogh’s Factories at Asnieres (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The response to this challenge was mass production. Innovations like Frederick Taylor’s task analysis and Henry Ford’s assembly lines resulted in an extreme increase in productivity. Peter Drucker estimated that the industrialization of work led to an incredible fifty-fold increase in productivity of the individual worker!

Imagine that for a moment: If a pre-industrial worker could produce 1 shirt per day then the industrial worker could produce 50 shirts per day.

This response was almost too successful! The non-stop increase in productivity resulted in an abundance of production capacity. Not even mass advertisement’s boost of human wants was enough to absorb the extra capacity.


Mass production in Detroit (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The rise of the Simple Living movement is a clear tell-tall sign that the original challenge of the industrial age has ceased to exist. The average family in the pre-industrial age had no need for “declutter your home” programs. The cost of things prevented cluttering.

So with the original challenge of productivity being abundantly satisfied, we will move into the Creative Age where the challenge will be to invent new and/or better solutions, rather than mass producing existing ones.

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