Issue No. 243 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting features a fascinating “inside baseball” book on lessons learned at the feet of Peter Drucker, the father of modern management. Plus, this reminder: check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
Drucker: “Too Few Generals Were Killed!”
When Author William Cohen showed Peter Drucker a proposed list of “Eight Universal Laws of Leadership,” Drucker commented on Cohen’s “Law #8: Get Out in Front” with this: “Very true. As junior leader or CEO, the leader must be where the work is the most challenging. During World War I, the losses among higher ranking officers was rare compared with the losses they caused by their incompetence. Too few generals were killed.”
Sometimes I get a little push back from younger leaders when I quote Peter Drucker, the father of modern management. If he were alive today, he would be 102. I see the pretend boredom and rolling eyes in my workshops when I share a favorite Druckerism. (“Come on…World War I, even WWII? Give us something fresh,” they glare.)
My response? Christ-followers seem to appreciate another Peter…plus a Paul, a Matthew, a Mark, a John and even Moses (to name a few)—all much older than Peter Drucker. Truth is truth. Wisdom is wisdom.
Last year at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, I spotted a book about Drucker on Marvin Earl Gray’s bookshelf. A Class With Drucker: The Lost Lessons of the World’s Greatest Management Teacher is a treasure! (Marvin—I promise to return it…eventually!)
Cohen, “a struggling young ex-Air Force officer with no academic experience,” enrolled in Drucker’s PhD program in management at Claremont University in 1975. The book describes, in delicious detail, the author’s four years of evening classes with “Peter.” (Drucker disliked titles.)
Published by the American Management Association in 2008, A Class With Drucker is indeed that. Cohen shares 19 lessons—each with a succinct “Drucker Lesson Summary.” (Those alone are worth the price of the book.) The wisdom is practical:
--Lesson 3: What Everyone Knows Is Frequently Wrong
--Lesson 6: Approach Problems With Your Ignorance Not Your Experience
--Lesson 9: The Objective of Marketing Is to Make Selling Unnecessary
--Lesson 13: You Must Know Your People to Lead Them
The author mixes the personal with the profound, describing how a very young Drucker, in his role as the U.S. Army’s first management consultant, convinced a reluctant colonel what he should do differently. Cohen, now a leadership and marketing authority himself, writes with a compelling and informal style that synthesizes Drucker wisdom into a page-turner.
Example: “As a management consultant, Drucker was famous for asking questions of his consultant clients. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, has been called the pre-eminent CEO of the 20th century. When he became CEO in 1981, the company’s market value was about $12 billion. When he left, it was worth more than 25 times that figure.
“According to Welch, Drucker’s two simple questions helped propel him to this amazing feat. The first question was: ‘If you weren’t already in the business, would you enter it today?’ This Drucker followed with a second, more difficult question, ‘What are you going to do about it?’ According to Welch, Drucker’s questions led him to shed unprofitable businesses and streamline GE into its extraordinary success.”
Chapter Five should be required reading for your entire staff and board members—especially during your annual strategic planning update. The lesson: “If you keep doing what worked in the past you’re going to fail.” (Imagine Drucker's classroom color commentary on the Wall Street Journal's headline of Feb. 10, 2012, "Kodak Shutters Camera Business.")
Drucker was not a big fan of reorganizations because “it was time-consuming, expensive, and confusing to workers and managers alike. He told us if reorganization were really needed, to go ahead and do it, but we must keep in mind that reorganization was major surgery.”
Cohen’s day job was at McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Company, where a new reorganization had just been announced with much fanfare. It was ill-conceived from the start. “What a mess!” the author shares. “Fortunately, this crazy idea only lasted a couple of months. No one even announced its demise; it just faded away. This wasn’t only major surgery, it was management malpractice.”
I encourage leaders and managers to read books that align with previously read books, instead of chasing after fads. “Management by Bestseller,” a term I picked up from Scott Vandeventer, gives you mental whiplash—and confuses your team members.
There’s no confusion with this book—it’s well worth the read and will add to your Druckerism inventory as you inspire younger leaders to get with the Peter Program.
To order this book from Amazon, click on the graphic below for: A Class With Drucker: The Lost Lessons of the World’s Greatest Management Teacher, by William A. Cohen.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) In the “Objectives of Marketing” chapter, Drucker said, “A poor marketing strategy cannot be overcome by good implementation or marketing tactics; marketing strategy is the governing aspect.” So is the tsunami of social media a strategy or a tactic?
2) Drucker also said that “while planning, especially strategic planning, was difficult and risky, it was one of management’s primary responsibilities.” What percentage of your time do you devote to this primary responsibility?
What Does Our Customer Value? - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
One of the big ideas in my book, Mastering the Management Buckets, is to keep “The Five Drucker Questions” front and center:
1) What is our mission?
2) Who is our customer?
3) What does our customer value?
4) What are our results?
5) What is our plan?
For more books that align with The Customer Bucket (and Drucker’s insights), including an example of a customer segmenting chart, visit The Customer Bucket webpage.
JOIN IN! WORKSHOPS, ROUNDTABLES & BLOGS
March 13, 2012 (Dallas) – ECFA Spring Nonprofit Forum (Day 1): Nine Governance Essentials for Nonprofits (with Dan Busby, Michael Batts, Richard Hammar, Steve Macchia and John Pearson)
March 23, 2012 (Brea, Calif.) – CEO Dialogues Roundtable (with Mark Holbrook, Ed Morgan and John Pearson)
ECFA Blog on “Governance of Christ-centered Organizations” – Add your thoughts and comments to John Pearson’s weekly blog posts, including, “Is Your Board Crisis-Ready?”