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Peter Drucker

Peter Ferdinand Drucker (November 19, 1909 – November 11, 2005) was a writer, management consultant, and self-described “social ecologist.”His books and scholarly and popular articles explored how humans are organized across the business, government and the nonprofit sectors of society. He is one of the best-known and most widely influential thinkers and writers on the subject of management theory and practice. His writings have predicted many of the major developments of the late twentieth century, including privatization and decentralization; the rise of Japan to economic world power; the decisive importance of marketing; and the emergence of the information society with its necessity of lifelong learning. In 1959, Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker" and later in his life considered knowledge work productivity to be the next frontier of management.

Several ideas run through most of Drucker's writings:

Decentralization and simplification. Drucker discounted the command and control model and asserted that companies work best when they are decentralized. According to Drucker, corporations tend to produce too many products, hire employees they don't need (when a better solution would be outsourcing), and expand into economic sectors that they should avoid.

A profound skepticism of macroeconomic theory. Drucker contended that economists of all schools fail to explain significant aspects of modern economies.

Respect of the worker. Drucker believed that employees are assets and not liabilities. He taught that knowledgeable workers are the essential ingredients of the modern economy. Central to this philosophy is the view that people are an organization's most valuable resource and that a manager's job is to prepare and free people to perform.

A belief in what he called "the sickness of government." Drucker made nonpartisan claims that government is often unable or unwilling to provide new services that people need or want, though he believed that this condition is not inherent to the form of government. The chapter "The Sickness of Government" in his book The Age of Discontinuity formed the basis of the New Public Management, a theory of public administration that dominated the discipline in the 1980s and 1990s.

The need for "planned abandonment". Businesses and governments have a natural human tendency to cling to "yesterday's successes" rather than seeing when they are no longer useful.

A belief that taking action without thinking is the cause of every failure.

The need for community. Early in his career, Drucker predicted the "end of economic man" and advocated the creation of a "plant community" where individuals' social needs could be met. He later acknowledged that the plant community never materialized, and by the 1980s, suggested that volunteering in the nonprofit sector was the key to fostering a healthy society where people found a sense of belonging and civic pride.

The need to manage business by balancing a variety of needs and goals, rather than subordinating an institution to a single value. This concept of management by objectives forms the keynote of his 1954 landmark The Practice of Management.

A company's primary responsibility is to serve its customers. Profit is not the primary goal, but rather an essential condition for the company's continued existence.

An organization should have a proper way of executing all its business processes.

A belief in the notion that great companies could stand among humankind's noblest inventions.

Related Title:

The Effective Executive

The Practice of Management

The Essential Drucker