From The Gilbreth Network Online:
The Quest, Volume 6, No. 1, Spring-Summer 2002

Compiled by David Ferguson

Newsletter of the Gilbreth Network

Spring-Summer 2002

Welcome to the current issue of The Quest, Vol. 6, No. 1, Spring-Summer 2002, published in July 2002. The Quest is published quarterly.

The Quest is published by and copyright David Ferguson.

Inside this issue:
A Special Treat
Gilbreth Shaving Efficiency--2002
Our Many Thanks
The Quest by E-Mail
New Members


Vol. 6, No. 1 Summer 2002

A Special Treat

We are very pleased to include a new article by our friend, Prof. Dr-Ing. Sándor Vajna and Dr-Ing Dörte Freisleben, of Magdeburg, Germany. You may remember their previous article on process analysis, which was based on the Gilbreths' Therblig system. This new article, has built on the earlier material and is entitled: Dynamic Project Navigation: Modelling, Improving and Reviewing Engineering Processes. We are very grateful to Doctors Vajna and Freisleben, for sharing their work with us.

[Note: You can download a Microsoft Word copy of the article from our web site. Follow this link:]

[Archivist's note: this file has been included on this new site as well. As the online version of the newsletter does not include the article, the note above would seem to refer to an insert in mailed issues. The file has not been expanded to web view here for delicate considerations of copyright.]

Gilbreth Shaving Efficiency—2002

"For a while he [Frank] tried shaving with two razors, but he finally gave that up.

"I can save forty-four seconds," he grumbled, "but I wasted two minutes this morning putting this bandage on my throat."

It wasn't the slashed throat that really bothered him. It was the two minutes." [Cheaper by the Dozen].

If Frank Gilbreth ever used two razors (and bare in mind these were old, straight razors) to "shave" a few seconds off his morning shave time, he never admitted it in his other writings. Indeed, he did write an extensive article on the variables and timesaving methods of shaving. However, since few men sill use a shave brush and straight razor, Frank's specific methods have little relevance today. So, as my tribute to Frank Gilbreth, I would like to update his intent to include modern shaving equipment.

[Archivist's note: Frank Gilbreth did indeed make this experiment, but it was using "old fashioned safety razors" identical to modern single-blade razors, not straight razors. The illustration in Cheaper shows the latter, which is where the confusion has come in. Attempting to shave with two straight razors would be... foolish.]

First, however, I want to make it clear that I have no intention of being politically correct or gender balanced in this article. Having watched my wife in her morning routine, I wouldn't even begin to traverse the mysteries of a woman's morning routine. This would take a full-blown motion study, as she seems to have more equipment and potions then it would take to launch a person into space.

As to equipment, men have many choices, especially in the types of razors. If you look at a store display, of the different types of replacement razor blades available, you would soon conclude that there is no "one best way" to shave. It would appear that each generation of men tends to stick with the type of blade they first started with. With a well-stocked blade rack, I can trace the evolution of my own shaving history, starting with the double-sided blade on through double and triple edges combined in the same razor head. It's hard not to be reminded of Frank Gilbreth using two razor blades, when you see all these multi-bladed devices.

Actually, the act/method of shaving represents a microcosm of the variables of the human being, which were discussed in Frank Gilbreth's book Motion Study, and have continued to be found in ergonomics. The pattern, grain and texture of facial hair vary widely, as does the growth rate. Some men grow a beard faster than the Wolfman, and need to shave twice a day. If you don't think that's an important factor, just ask Richard Nixon, whose 5 o'clock shadow (in his 1960 TV debates) lost the election to John F. Kennedy.

Due to these typical human variables, a "one best way" to shave cannot be found as easily as if we were designing a machine. We will use some of Frank Gilbreth's previous methods, as well as the principles of "motion economy" to develop a guideline, which each man can apply to his own face.

When to Shave: In my own case, I must disagree with Frank, as to the order of position shaving fits within the morning routine. Frank insisted that it was better to shave before taking one's shower/bath, allowing the water to rinse away the soap and any blood from nicks. However, I've found that when attempting to shave, without first showering, there is considerably more razor pull. A good shower will remove the skin oils, which contribute to razor drag/pull. An added benefit is that your blade will generally stay sharper, longer, thus saving a few seconds per month, in pre-mature blade changing.

Setting Up Your Workstation: Your razor and shave cream should be located so that you can use both hands to retrieve them, simultaneously. To further enhance this process, the razor should be placed so that you pick it up with the hand in which you normally hold it for shaving. The shave cream should be picked up by the opposite hand, which will allow you to squirt the lather into your dominant hand, thus facilitating quick lathering time.

Steps: Facing the sink, use your left hand to turn on the hot water, at the same time, your right is engaging the stopper. You will generally find that it is unnecessary to let the water warm up, as the initial cold water coming through the pipes, will later mix with the hot to make a good temperature for the basin of water. This method is also better for economizing on water usage, rather than letting the spigot run throughout the shave.

While the basin is filling, with both hands, retrieve your razor and shave cream. Place the razor beside the basin, while you shake up the shave cream can with the other hand. While shaking the can, use your idle hand to check the water temperature in the sink and then to shut off the water. Then, set down the can and use both hands to wet your face from the basin of hot water. Note: the basin should contain as hot a water temperature as you can stand, since, as Frank Gilbreth found, the hot water makes the razor blade shave better, which is still true today.

Immediately pick up the shave cream in the non-dominant hand and squirt a sufficient amount into the other hand. You should then apply the shave cream to each part of your face, in the same order as which you normally shave. This allows the cream to set on the face/beard, an equal time at all locations, thus reducing any razor pull. Note: there are a number of steps taken to reduce razor pull. Razor pull slows the shaving process and with the extra force required, can result in cuts/nicks. These take valuable time to treat, so, for more than one reason should be avoided.

Where To Start: Here is where variations of the individual's beard affect the direction in which you pull the razor. Beards have definite growth patterns as to which direction the hair grows, called grain. Going with the grain will be easier to shave, but may not be as close a shave as forcing the blade against the grain. This is an individual decision.

In establishing a pattern for shaving, the motion study principle to keep in mind is "play for position." This, Frank Gilbreth explained was like playing a pool shot so that the cue ball ended up in a position ready for the next shot.

While we tend to keep the razor in one hand throughout the shave, we do make minor adjustments in the way we grip the handle, depending on the part of the face being shaved. To keep changes in grip position to a minimum, the following pattern is an example of one requiring the fewest shifts in grip.

Start by shaving the cheek/jaw on the same side as you are holding the razor. Then, raise your chin and starting with the side you just finished, shave the neck area in up or down strokes, as needed. Move across the neck (between the collar line and jaw), across to the opposite side of the face. From here, shave the opposite cheek/jaw side. Finally shave the chin followed by the upper lip. This pattern provides the fewest changes in grip and follows a continuous line.

Frank Gilbreth recommended rinsing the face in cold water, which will close an little cuts, much faster than hot water, which actually encourages bleeding.

With the left hand, disengage the sink stopper and with the right, start the cold-water tap. Bend down and with both hands, scoop up some cold water to rinse the face. Grab a towel with one hand and pick up your razor with the other. While you use one hand to dry your face, use the other to rinse the razor in the cold water and shut off the tap. Place your towel on the vanity top. Still holding the razor in the same hand, replace it in its storage spot, and with your other hand, replace the can of shave cream, again in the same/starting position. While the hand is still at the cabinet or storage location, pick up your choice of aftershave.

The one or two-handed method, of applying aftershave to the face, is pretty equal in time. Use the method you prefer.

Replace the cap and bottle, of aftershave, on the shelf, in the opposite order, then, again, turning on the cold water tap, rinse the aftershave from your hands, at the same time you splash the water around the sink bowl, to rinse out the remaining lather and stubble.

Then, with one hand, turn off the tap and with the other, wipe any water off the vanity top and replace the towel on it's rack. (Note: at this point, you may want to use the towel to complete drying your hair, before combing) These last two clean up points will also save the time of hearing your wife complain of the mess you left in the bathroom.

This method employs many laws of motion economy, such as play for position, using both hands simultaneously, reducing Search and Transport Unloaded Therbligs. The "Get Ready" and "Clean Up" times are also reduced.

Since Cheaper by the Dozen (both book and movie) inspired my morning routine long ago, it's difficult to actually give you a before and after time. I can tell you that my time for shower, shampoo, shave, hair and dressing still amazes my wife and houseguests. From turning on the shower faucet, to tying my necktie, averages about 18 minutes, with my best record being 13 ½ minutes.

Of course the benefits of these efforts will vary. As Frank Gilbreth said, you can use the time saved as you see fit. This efficient morning routine can allow you to sleep in a little later, or provide more time to read the morning paper, or simply allow you to arrive at your morning destination, with time to spare.

The Gilbreths were fond of pointing out that these little savings in time significantly accrued over the span of a year. Or, if additional timesaving steps were taken in other routine tasks, the daily reward, of timesavings, would also develop.

Our Many Thanks

Our annual fund raising drive has once again, been answered by many of our generous members. We want to extend our thanks to:

You have helped to keep the Gilbreth Network going and we are all grateful.

The Quest by E-Mail

The Gilbreth Network has seen continued growth in the last two years, and as such, our mailing list, for The Quest, has also grown, along with printing and ever-increasing postage costs. Also, since I'm the only one printing and stuffing envelopes, the time taken to put out The Quest, has increased substantially. If we are going to continue to offer free membership and subscriptions to The Quest, we are asking for your assistance.

Starting with the next issue of the newsletter, we will be sending the newsletter as an e-mail attachment, instead of a hard copy, to those members with e-mail addresses. Please be sure that we have your correct e-mail address, by sending me an updated address, if your e-mail has changed.

For those who would still prefer the printed copy, of the newsletter, we will be happy to continue to provide this to you. Just send me an e-mail, asking that you continue to receive a mailed copy.

Those without an e-mail address listed, institutions and organizations, and those who have financially supported the Gilbreth Network, will continue to receive a printed copy of The Quest. No action is required on your part.

We appreciate your understanding of this change.
Please send your e-mails to:


Process Improvement Workshops: You have one last chance to sign up for the Process Improvement Workshops, held by the Ben Graham Corp. The last scheduled workshop will be held October 23-25, in Dayton, OH. Please call 1-800-628-9558, to sign up.

You might remember our article about the modern versions of the Gilbreth "Non-Stooping" Scaffold, which Frank Gilbreth originally designed to reduce fatigue for bricklayers. Mike DeBlasio, a long-time contractor and member of the Network. He writes, "The Mason King System is made by Vanguard Mfg., a subsidiary of Lynn Ladder. They are good friends of mine. There are about 10 other copies of this system on the market." Mike also provided a copy of a masonry construction industry magazine, which showed an ad of yet another scaffolding manufacturer---this one, surprisingly named "Non-Stop Scaffolding." There was also an excellent article on improving job site production (on masonry jobs). We will have to do some examination of that one for our next issue.

Another Member is Published. One of our first members, Jill Hough has collaborated with Margaret A. White, to produce an article, entitled: "Using Stories to Create Change: The Object Lesson of Frederick Taylor's "Pig Tail"" was published in the Journal of Management 27 (2001) 585-601. This article presents yet a different view of Taylor's famous (or infamous) Pig Iron studies, at Bethlehem Steel. While I had heard that this article was in the works, I'm glad to have finally seen it. Thanks Jill, for your efforts.

Speaking of Bricklaying---we are happy to announce that the Gilbreth Network has FINALLY acquired a copy of the Gilbreth book: Bricklaying System. It has only been the last year that copies of this book have shown up at the used book dealers and auction sites. When it first appeared, copies were going for several hundred dollars---well out of our budget range. Luckily, thru and E-Bay auction, we were able to find a copy which the dealers and collectors managed to miss. We will be putting this book into electronic format in the next few months. We feel it should be our next effort, since it is currently not available from Louis Goldberg, our book dealer, selling the re-discovered Hive books.

Moving On: In case you missed it, our long-time friends and supporters, at the Institute of Industrial Engineers, are moving their offices. You should now write them at:
Institute of Industrial Engineers
3577 Parkway Lane
Building 5, Suite 200
Norcross, GA 30092

Welcom to New Members

We are pleased to welcome the following new members to the Gilbreth Network. Those with e-mail addresses listed have agreed to be part of our information sharing/resource group of members.

Gerrit De Vru is an engineering trainer/consultant with KPMG Consulting, in the Netherlands. He is secretary of the Dutch Council of Work-Factor. You can reach him at [omitted].

Ben B. Graham has been a long-time supporter of the Gilbreth Network and recently sent us an application, asking to be added to our resource list. He is the president of The Ben Graham Corp., which teaches "work simplification" based on the work of the Gilbreths. The company has a rich history of development, including close work with Dr. Lillian Gilbreth and other pioneers in the field. He can be reached at: [omitted].

Leslie McCann, of Wilmington, DE has joined us due to her love of the Gilbreth books.

Jessie Nalpathanchil is with the American Education Services. Interest in the Gilbreths is in "Promoting personal growth--applicable to work and daily activities. Jessie is currently writing an article and can be reached at: [omitted].

Brij B. Singh is the president of Business Solutions Consulting, in Hixson, Tennessee. His company specializes in work simplification consulting and he is currently writing an article. You can reach him at [omitted].


The Quest is written and published by:

David Ferguson, CSP
113 Kay Ct.
Cloverdale, CA 95425


Copyright 2002


— from the website The Gilbreth Network Online. Reformatted but unedited. All rights remain with the author and/or publisher.
It can be assumed that all physical and web addresses in this document are obsolete.