Review of ‘The Essential Drucker’

The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on ManagementThe Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management by Peter F. Drucker.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

I haven’t paid much attention to the late Peter Drucker previously, but I must say that I was impressed by his thinking in this book. Since it is a compilation of his writings, the excerpts span the years 1966 – 2001 and yet I didn’t find anything that I thought was dated. Most of it seemed remarkably current, such as the focus on strengths, the identification of knowledge organisations with biological rather than mechanical systems (complexity theory), the role of social entrepreneurship and multiple stakeholder orientation.

Here are some great quotes.

(p.14) Business enterprises – and public-service institutions as well – are organs of society. They do not exist for their own sake, but to fulfil a specific social purpose and to satisfy a specific need of a society, a community, or individuals. They are not ends in themselves, but means.
(p.20) …a company can make a social contribution only if it is highly profitable.

(p.72) Mission defines strategy … and strategy defines structure.

(p.81) One does not ‘manage’ people. The task is to lead people. And the goal is to make productive the specific strengths and knowledge of each individual.

(p.85) …increasingly the noncustomers of an enterprise … are as important as the customers, if not more important.

(p.208) …the man who focuses on contribution and who takes responsibility for results, no matter how junior, is the most literal sense of the phrase, ‘top management.’

(pp.217-220) Concentrate on your strengths. Place yourself where your strengths can produce performance and results. … Work on improving your strengths. … Waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence.

(p.271) The foundation of effective leadership is thinking through the organization’s mission, defining it, and establishing it, clearly and visibly.

(p.337) In 1945, the year in which the mechanical universe was the model came to an end. … in 1946, the first computer … came on stream. And with it began an age in which information will be the organizing principle for work. Information, however, is the basic principle of biological [emphasis added] rather than of mechanical processes.

(p.341) For communication to be effective, there has to be both information and meaning. And meaning requires communion.

Some authors have made great contributions in the past but have become dated and irrelevant. However, Peter Drucker has definitely gained my respect and attention.

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