Let me caution you before commenting on this book. Most people who refer to Taylor and Scientific Management have not read Taylor, but about Taylor in secondary sources. So, forget what you have heard about Taylor. Keep an open mind.
Prior to Taylor, management tried to create output by providing incentives to workers. But pressure from peers kept workers from doing more work. Everyone agreed that this would lead to fewer jobs.
The virtuous cycle of higher performance, lower prices, more sales, and higher pay for workers and shareholders was not yet uncovered.
Taylor sees the results of the higher productivity mostly being of help to consumers, with the remainder of the benefit split between shareholders and workers. In that he was prescient. Advanced thinkers today are rediscovering this old truth, first elaborated by Taylor.
What I found to be delightful in the book was the emphasis on trying to approach the ideal practice, rather than being satisfied with the best of today.
Here are the key principles for your reference:
(1) develop a science for each element of a task to determine the most productive way to do that task (quality and quantity considered in terms of total costs)
(2) scientifically select and train those who can do the task the most effectively in what needs to be done, and provide all of the help they need
(3) create an environment where the person doing the task can be productive (this often involves systems limitations, like input from others)
(4) management has a role in designing the work, selecting workers who are ideal for the work, and helping the work be learned properly. There is an equal division between the worker and management in creating the right result.
In reading this list, I am reminded of Bill Jensen's new book, Simplicity, in which he calls for something rather similar to the broad concepts of Scientific Management. So although many people consider almost all existing management Taylorian, a closer examination would say that management is not doing its job.
The basic problem with Scientific Management was not that it was flawed, but that it took slow long to do that it was impractical to try too many experiments. The time and measurement experiments took forever. The calculations of multivariate problems were hard to solve in precomputer days. The change process was slow (usually 3-5 years).
The experiments that we all know about and applaud now (team-based learning and self-directed work teams, TQM, reengineering, and so forth) could have been addressed by the Scientific Management method as soon as the limitations described above could be lifted.
As a result, I think it is incorrect to be pro TQM or reengineering and anti Scientific Management. I believe that the basic principles are more compatible than not.
At some point, all of this becomes merely philosophical. I think you will find the case studies in the book revealing about what the potential for improvement can be in tasks that people have been doing for centuries (like laying bricks).
I was impressed that Taylor was so good at locating stalls of disbelief, misconception, communication, and bureaucracy. He had a keen sense of where mental models were wrong, and how to bust those stalls. In fact, he may have been the 19th century's first business stallbuster.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in understanding more about how measurements can be useful to identifying ways to improve performance for all of society.