Professor Murmann's Blog: The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management

The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management

One of the things that made Peter Drucker such a superb writer on management was his intense and wide ranging curiosity about everything in the world and his keen eye for the essential aspects of reality. Unlike many other people who paid with their life for not wanting to see reality, Drucker, for example, extrapolated from what Hitler had said in the years before becoming Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and left for England the moment Hitler rose to power. Drucker died a few days ago at age 95, but many of his insights are as valid as ever. Drucker’s writings have been edited into one book a few years ago, which is available electronically on Kindle. The value of the book lies not so much in giving concrete instructions about what you should do as a manger but in making you think about your own situation. Here are some of the key insights, the foremost being that management is about human beings.

Insight 1: Management is about human beings. Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their strengths effective and their weakness irrelevant.

Insight 2: Because management deals with the integration of people in a common venture, it is deeply embedded in culture. What managers do in Germany, in the United Kingdom, in the United States, in Japan or in Brazil is exactly the same [namely, to integrate people]. How they do it may be quite different.

Insight 3: Every enterprise is a learning and teaching institution. Training and development must be built into it on all levels - training and development must never stop. 

Insight 4: Profitability is not the purpose of, but a limiting factor of business enterprise and business activity. Profit is not the explanation, cause, or rationale of business behavior and business decisions, but rather the test of their validity.

Insight 5: True marketing starts out…with the customer, his demographics, his [her] realities, his [her] needs, his [her] values. It does not ask, What do we want to sell? It asks, What does the customer want to buy.

Insight 6: In every single business failure of a large company in the last few decades, the board was the last to realize that things were going wrong. To find a truly effective board, you are much better advised to look in the nonprofit sector than in our public corporation.


The Essential Drucker Harper Collins Publishers 2001

See also an appreciation of Peter Druckers’ Work in today’s Wall Street Journal in the Economist and his obituary in the New York Times.