A Tribute to Peter Drucker

I have been personally influenced by Peter Drucker via his articles and books. He was also mentor to former Intel CEO Andy Grove and lot of the foundations of Intel culture, which I admire in the non-diluted form, were for sure qualified by him.

The Vienna-born Ducker died Friday at age 95 of natural causes at his home east of Los Angeles, said Bryan Schneider, a spokesman for Claremont Graduate University, where Drucker taught. Hailed by Business Week magazine as ”the most enduring management thinker of our time,” his techniques have been used by executives at some of the biggest companies in corporate America, including Intel and Sears, Roebuck & Co. Drucker was considered visionary for his recognition that dedicated employees are key to the success of any corporation, and that marketing and innovation should come before worries about finances.

Revered as the father of modern management, Drucker explained his principals — stressing innovation, entrepreneurship and strategies for the changing world — in plain language that resonated with ordinary managers, said former Intel Corp. Chairman Andy Grove. ”Consequently, simple statements from him have influenced untold numbers of daily actions,” Grove said. ”They did mine over decades.”

Drucker was considered visionary for his recognition that dedicated employees are key to the success of any corporation, and that marketing and innovation should come before worries about finances. ”He is purely and simply the most important developer of effective management and of effective public policy in the 20th century,” former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said. ”In the more than 30 years that I’ve studied him, talked with him and learned from him, he has been invaluable and irreplaceable.”

Treat workers as a resource and not as cost. When Mr Drucker wrote “The Concept of the Corporation”, he could find only two firms that offered their staff management training, and only three academic courses in the subject. Today, there are countless business schools, and billions of people have seen their lives changed by ideas that were either first popularised or invented by him: privatisation (or reprivatisation as he called it), outsourcing, management by objectives, empowerment, the importance of second careers and so on.

He foresaw the emergence of a new type of worker whose occupation would be based on knowledge, not physical labor or management. Knowledge will be its key resource, and knowledge workers will be the dominant group in its workforce. Its three main characteristics will be:

•Borderlessness, because knowledge travels even more effortlessly than money.

•Upward mobility, available to everyone through easily acquired formal education.

•The potential for failure as well as success. Anyone can acquire the “means of production”, ie, the knowledge required for the job, but not everyone can win.

Knowledge technologists are likely to become the dominant social—and perhaps also political—force over the next decades

After the big stock market decline of October 1987, Drucker said he had expected it, ”and not for economic reasons, but for aesthetic and moral reasons.” ”When you reach the point where the traders make more money than investors, you know it’s not going to last,” he said.

Later, while working in the City of London, Mr Drucker made pilgrimages to Cambridge to listen to Keynes until he realised that “he was interested in commodities and I was interested in people”—and went his different way. Indeed, along with his versatility, it is his obsession with people, particularly those who struggle to find a place in the market economy that he respects but plainly does not love, that sets Mr Drucker aside from other business writers. As Mr Beatty shrewdly puts it, Mr Drucker “has tried for 60 years to take the capital out of capitalism He discusses economic life in terms of values, integrity, character, knowledge, vision, responsibility, self-control, social integration, teamwork, community competence, social responsibility, the quality of life, self-fulfilment, leadership dignity, meaning—but rarely money.” Recently, Mr Drucker has assumed the offensive against shameless greed in the boardroom.

What is absolutely unforgivable is the financial benefit top management people get for laying off people. There is no excuse for it. No justification. This is morally and socially unforgivable, and we will pay a heavy price for it.

Mr Drucker was versatile. What other management writer could have written a novel that became a bestseller in Brazil? Or helped popularise Japanese art abroad? Or had the wit to compare sociology to acne? (“Civilisation does not die of the disease, but it itches.”)

This omnivorousness was in Mr Drucker’s genes. His parents were Viennese intellectuals. His first memory was sitting in the children’s bathroom hearing his father lament the outbreak of the first world war. In the city’s salons he heard Freud being criticised and was lulled to sleep by Thomas Mann reading a “boring” short story. When he fled this claustrophobic atmosphere, he excelled at several European universities without apparently attending classes at any one of them.

His contributions to business, managers, entrepreneurs and his ability to spot mega trends will be definitely missed.

The Best Drucker Obituary by FT

2 thoughts on “A Tribute to Peter Drucker”

  1. To discuss economic life (at length) and not to mention “Money”!

    None but Mr Drucker can achieve this feat.

    I bow down to this great human.

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