Management MASTER

By Holt, Jim | Management Review, November 1999 | Go to article overview

Management MASTER


Holt, Jim, Management Review


Almost 90, and Peter Drucker's still got it.

Peter Drucker: Shaping the Managerial Mind by John E. Flaherty Jossey-Bass, 1999 420 pages

The first management conference in history was organized in 1882 by the German Post Office-and nobody showed up. That is the kind of thing you will learn from the works of Pe-ter Drucker, the man widely hailed as "the father of management."

Over the last seven decades Drucker has written 29 books, which have sold more than 5 million copies worldwide.

He has coined such concepts as "privati-zation," "the knowledge worker" and "management by objectives." His clients have ranged from Fortune 500 compa-nies to the Girl Scouts of America to Yogi Berra (Drucker calls himself an "insul-tant" because he scolds clients for a fee).

His fans range from Walter Wriston to Bill Clinton to Bill Gates. His scope extends beyond companies to entire societies: He is credited as the guru behind Japan's postwar "economic miracle."

An Austrian-turned-Californian (he came to the United States in 1937 after friction with the Nazis), Drucker oozes Old World erudition and charm, speaks in a Viennese brogue, and writes and thinks with exquisite clarity.

If you have never read Drucker, shame on you. If you have read him only spottily-perhaps the monthly columns he used to write in the Wall Street Journal or one of his management classics like The Effective Executive (1966)-you might take a look at this new book by his one- time pupil and longtime friend John Fla-herty, which is being published to coin-cide with Drucker's 90th birthday on No-vember 18. Although Flaherty does not write with quite the sparkle of the master (who does?), he furnishes an intelligent overview of Drucker's ideas on strategy, employee motivation and decision mak-ing- ideas that have made Drucker the most frequently cited author in the his-tory of management studies.

Drucker's boldly original insights have been so influential that they have come to seem like management truisms. In a 1992 Business Week article cited by Fla-herty, five major schools of thought con-sidered by executives and business school professors to be models for 21st century management were listed. All five could be traced to Drucker's early writings.

Behind the awful buzzword "empow-erment," for example, lies what is perhaps Drucker's most important innovation: management by objectives (MBO). Intro-duced in the 1954 book The Practice of Management, MBO resulted in a Coperni-can Revolution in the management world, shifting the focus from work effort to pro-ductive output. …

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