Frederick Winslow Taylor wrote his Book "Scientific Management" back in 1911. His book is available for free online - consider reading it. Taylor wanted to end the "waste of manpower" and stated that "In the past the man has been first; in the future the system must be first." (p. 7) Taylor quickly added: "This in no sense, however, implies that great men are not needed. On the contrary, the first object of any good system must be that of developing first-class men; and under systematic management the best man rises to the top more certainly and more rapidly than ever before."
While this sounds pretty good, his own work clearly shows that he did not regard workers as more than a cog in the machinery. His basic assumption was that workers didn't put all their effort into their work. "For every individual, however, who is overworked, there are a hundred who intentionally underwork - greatly underwork - every day of their lives, and who for this reason deliberately aid in establishing those conditions which in the end inevitably result in low wages." (p. 18)
Taylor wanted to change this condition in order to increase the wealth of the United States by improving the situation for both workers and companies. His way to do this was: "to work according to scientific laws, the management must take over and perform much of the work which is now left to the men; almost every act of the workman should be preceded by one or more preparatory acts of the management which enable him to do his work better and quicker than he otherwise could." (p. 26) - Scientific Management was born. It states that managers have to "gather together all of the traditional knowledge which in the past has been possessed by the workmen and then of classifying, tabulating, and reducing this knowledge to rules, laws, and formulae which are immensely helpful to the workmen in doing their daily work." (p. 36). In addition, manager have to "develop a science for each element of a man's work, which replaces the old rule-of-thumb method", "scientifically select and then train, teach, and develop the workman, whereas in the past he chose his own work and trained himself as best he could", "heartily cooperate with the men so as to insure all of the work being done in accordance with the principle of the science which has been developed" and "there is an almost equal division of the work and the responsibility between the management and the workmen. The management take over all work for which they are better fitted than the workmen [...]." (ibid.)
What does this mean?
It means that Taylor wants the worker to stop all thinking. He considers thinking something the manager has to do. The manager is the one who should know the job of the worker in all details and to spell out how this worker should do the work. It also means that the work should be simplified and atomized to an extend "that it would be possible to train an intelligent gorilla so as to become a more efficient pig-iron handler than any man can be." (p. 40)
Of course, I don't approve. While Taylor certainly had the best intentions, he created a tool that helps to make people obsolete and worsen their working conditions. While it may have been adequate back in 1911, it certainly is not in todays economy. However, there are some successors to Scientific Management that can be useful in certain situations: Operations Management, Operations Research, Cybernetics, Total Quality Management, Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing (maybe some more).
The first thing that is important to notice is that all tools have their use - but if you use them in the wrong context, you might hurt your goal. Ever tried to drill in a screw with a hammer? There you go.
Closely connected with Scientific Management is the phrase "resource" for employees. You maybe have seen a situation where somebody just put "some more resources" onto a project. Let's look at the term resource: "An available supply that can be drawn on when needed. Often used in the plural." (the free dictionary). It is also defined as "The total means available to a company for increasing production or profit, including plant, labor, and raw material; assets" (ibid.)
So I am a "means" to my employer. We should check what "means" means in that context: "the medium, method, or instrument used to obtain a result or achieve an end" (the free dictionary).
Now we can see the connection between the term "resource" (used for an employee) and Taylorism: Both imply that the human being is merely an "instrument used to obtain a result".
In today's world, people don't want to be just an instrument. They want to be valued for their personality, their resourcefulness (isn't it interesting how this word can also mean something tremendously positive?), their efforts and their learning. Some even want to find personal fulfillment in their work. This is especially true for well educated people in the western hemisphere, for example software developers, managers, Product Owners and Scrum Masters. So here is the 2nd thing we can learn from that: Never call your colleagues "resource"!