Scientific Management Compendium

In the spring and summer of 2021, I made several dozen LinkedIn posts on the topic of Scientific Management to refute the disinformation coming from prominent people in the Lean community that had appeared in the months and years prior.

The posts and related content from original sources were combined into the 592-page compendium below. Anyone interested in the history of progressive management will find this information very useful.

Upon reading the compendium, you will quickly realize the following:

  • Scientific Management was not the terrible thing that so many people misunderstand it to be.
  • The creators of Scientific Management — Frederick Winslow Taylor, Morris Cooke, Henry Gantt, Carl Barth, Frank Gilbreth, Dr. Lillian Gilbreth, Harlow Person, James Dodge, Henry Kendall, and others –had both good hearts and wholesome intentions.
  • These men and and one woman created industrial engineering, without which Toyota’s production system and the Toyota Way would not exist.
  • They were highly intelligent, well-reasoned in their thinking, and exacting in their work in pursuit of broad-based benefits. We owe them our gratitude, not scorn.
  • Scientific Management is the foundation upon which Toyota’s production system and the Toyota Way were built, and so too its derivative interpretation known as Lean management.
  • Unfortunately, Lean management has largely followed the trajectory of Scientific Management, paralleling its many problems in gaining the interest of top leaders and limited successes in transforming leadership and and management. The similarities are astounding.

The lessons to learn from Scientific Management are manifold, but our top Lean promoters and influencers have little interest in them. This, from people who loudly profess the importance of learning. Sadly, it is one of many examples of their hypocrisy.

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