Frederick Winslow Taylor was an early advocate for applying 'scientific' principles to the management of men, machines, and factories. Few realize, though, the the 'Efficiency Movement' that he helped foment extended well beyond the factory floor. 'Efficiency' clubs sprung up throughout the United States, and the movement found fertile soil elsewhere in the world, as well. These clubs sought to apply Taylor's ideas, referred to as "Taylorism," to a variety of human enterprises that one might not expect, such as schools, libraries, and governments. Indeed, 'efficiency' ascended to the level of a new moral virtue. Many modern institutions today are still imbued with the mindset that Taylor advocated. Another fact that is not well known: Taylor's philosophy was incorporated into the worldviews of people who would carry out some of history's worst atrocities. In the United States, the same men who advanced Taylorism advanced eugenics and compulsory sterilization. Germans lauded themselves for their efficiency. In Russia, the Bolsheviks envied the power and principles of organization that Taylorism brought them. Lenin himself was a fan. So it was that Taylorism was promoted both by wealthy industrialists and capitalists and leftist communists, and any and every person who elevated the interests of the 'system' over the individual, per Taylor's succinct moral dictum: "In the past the man has been first; in the future the system must be first."
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Frederick Winslow Taylor comes straight to the point when he explains the reason for writing the book: First, 'to point out the great loss which the whole country is suffering through inefficiency in almost all of our daily acts'. Second, 'to try to convince the reader that the remedy for this inefficiency lies in systematic management, rather than in searching for some unusual or extraordinary man'. Third, 'to prove that the best management is a true science, resting upon clearly defined laws, rules, and principles, as a foundation'. However, this starting point does not set the tone for the rest of the book. Taylor and his Taylorism/task management is more human than most people will tell you. This can be seen from the first page of the first chapter, where Taylor explains the principal of object of management, which 'should be to secure the maximum prosperity for the employer, coupled with the maximum prosperity for each employee'. Initially, Taylor starts with a short introduction and reasons of 'soldiering' which he refers to as 'deliberately working slowly as as to avoid doing a full day's work'. Taylor then turns to his now-famous Scientific Management. The four elements which constitute the essence of scientific management are: First, the development of standardization of methods. Second, the careful selection and training of personnel. Third, extensive supervision by management and payment of bonuses. Fourth, an equal division of the work and responsibility between the workman and the management. Taylor uses some somewhat old-fashioned examples to explain task-management, such as pig-iron handling, bricklaying, and inspection of bicycle balls. Just like other readers I expected something different from this book, since much of what is said about this book on MBA and management-courses is not true. I did enjoy reading this book, even though it is now somewhat out of date (originally published 1911), but it is amazing how much scientific management is still around us and the influence it still has on modern management (business process reengineering). It is written in simple English and is very thin for a management book with just 140 pages.