Issue No. 292 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting features a new book—packed with 40 short chapters on the management wisdom of Peter Drucker. This already has a guaranteed spot on my Top-10 list next December! For my 2013 Top-10 list of books—and my 2013 Book-of-the-Year pick, click here. Plus, this reminder: check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
The Greatest Management Thinker
Get this! Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, skipped his weekly staff meetings!
That’s just one of many hearty laughs you’ll enjoy as you bounce around the 40 short chapters in this hot-off-the-press keeper, The Practical Drucker: Applying the Wisdom of the World’s Greatest Management Thinker, by William A. Cohen.
When AMACOM, publishing arm of the American Management Association, offered me a review copy of Cohen’s latest book on Drucker, I dropped everything I was reading when it arrived. Here are 10 reasons why:
#1. Drucker on Office Politics. “Office politics can destroy any organization. You should avoid such things completely,” Drucker preached passionately. “I do not attend [the dean’s] weekly management meetings for precisely this reason.” The response from Dean Paul Albrecht at Claremont Graduate School: “If you are Peter Drucker, you do not need to attend my faculty meetings.”
#2. Drucker on Why You’re Usually Wrong. When the book arrived, I scanned the 40 chapter titles and circled 15 must-reads, starting with Chapter 9:
“What Everyone Knows
Is Usually Wrong.”
Cohen writes, “It is true that Drucker many times uttered statements to make a particular point. A colleague noted that this made Drucker “eminently quotable.” But does the statement hold water? “He was talking about opinion expressed as fact.”
He adds, “What Drucker wanted to emphasize was that we must always question our assumptions, no matter from where they originate. This is especially so regarding anything that a majority of people ‘know’ or assume without questioning.” (This is a must-read chapter.)
#3. Drucker on Bribery. “Huh?” I wondered, when I read Chapter 27, “Be Careful in Using a Bribe.” For the record, Drucker was against bribes, of course—but he had, as always, a unique slant on “buying customers” (a form of bribery). For example, he cautioned against underpricing the competition because customers will expect the lower prices to continue—even if the price is unsustainable—and will go somewhere else when you resume regular pricing.
Cohen comments, “I don’t think that Drucker was against [pricing] programs designed to accomplish a specific objective over a very short term. However you always need to ask the question, ‘Why aren’t we getting more sales at our current pricing?”
The poignant story of 38-year-old Douglas MacArthur (a brigadier general in World War I) is worth the price of the book. Can a general bribe an inexperienced major to lead his men into battle? You must read the story.
#4. Drucker on Market Research. IBM’s market research concluded that the company would sell no more than 1,000 personal computers a year. The author quotes Steve Jobs, “A lot of times people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Drucker’s wisdom is stunning:
“Better not to do [market research]
at all than to do it wrong!”
Instead, Drucker preferred “reality testing.” For example, Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca asked his engineers to literally cut the roof off a Chrysler and convert it into a convertible in just 24 hours so he could take it for a marketing spin. “According to corporate legend, if Iacocca did any quantitative analysis in this research, it was that he counted how many people waved as he drove this ad hoc ‘convertible’ around town.”
BY THE WAY: Why is Peter Drucker still relevant? Universally acclaimed as the father of modern management, Drucker influenced leaders and managers worldwide with 39 books, an immense number of articles, and his ability to zero in on core issues. When consulting with Jack Welch (who grew GE from $12 billion to more than 25 times that figure), Drucker challenged Welch with two questions:
• “If GE wasn’t already in a particular business, would you enter it today?”
• “If the answer is no, what are you going to do about it?”
Read more in Chapter 30, “Drucker’s Theory of Abandonment.”
As a student, scholar and friend of Peter Drucker, William A. Cohen was remarkably positioned to write this gem. President of two universities, an Air Force general, and Drucker’s first executive Ph.D. graduate, Cohen understands life-in-the-leadership-trenches. In each chapter, he competently gives a dose of Drucker, explains the core principle, and then illustrates the wisdom with memorable business stories—like how FedEx lost $320 million on Zapmail, its fax machine initiative. Cohen is also the author of the “inside management baseball” book, A Class With Drucker: The Lost Lessons of the World’s Greatest Management Teacher (read my 2012 review). But…back to my top-10 reasons list:
#5. Drucker on 3 Rules When Hiring. “Making the right people decisions is the ultimate means of controlling an organization well,” said Drucker. “Such decisions reveal how competent management is, what its values are, and whether it takes its job seriously.”
In Chapter 37, “The Ultimate Requirement for Running a Good Organization,” Cohen lists Drucker’s three prime staffing rules, including “Choose three or four candidates for the job rather than immediately settling on one.” Drucker also understood that there is no perfect candidate, but the person must be strong “in the few critical areas that are essential.” Cohen adds this humorous story:
“When Abraham Lincoln wanted to promote his most successful general, Ulysses S. Grant, to be general-in-chief of the Union forces during the Civil War, one of his cabinet officers warned that Lincoln should not expect too much from Grant because he was a hard drinker. Lincoln retorted, ‘Ask him his brand so I can send a case to all my generals.’”
#6. Drucker on Leadership as a “Marketing Job.” This will surprise you—maybe. “Famed marketing Professor Philip Kotler, who is often referred to as the ‘Father of Modern Marketing,’ said, ‘If I am the Father of Modern Marketing, then Drucker is the Grandfather of Modern Marketing.’”
#7. Drucker: No Fan of the Peter Principle. Drucker believed that the “Peter Principle,” (a person ultimately rises to his or her level of incompetence) was “badly mistaken, easily disproved, and likely to lead to serious problems at many levels of management if it were actually applied as presented.” Cohen adds, “Drucker also maintained that, all too frequently, the fault underlying the failure [of a manager] was a boss who put the individual in the wrong job.” In Chapter 11, “People Have No Limits,” he quotes Drucker:
“We have no right to ask people to take on jobs that will defeat them, no right to break good people.
We don’t have enough good young people
to practice human sacrifice.”
#8. Druckerisms! If the 40 chapter titles don’t rev up your management motors, you may be in the wrong job. Here’s a taste: “The Seven Deadly Sins of Leadership,” “The Most Important Leadership Decision,” “Fear of Job Loss Is Incompatible With Good Management,” “Where the Best Innovations Come From,” “The Purpose of Your Business Is Not to Make a Profit,” and “Drucker’s Most Valuable Lesson.”
#9. Drucker’s Favorite Leadership Book. According to his widow, Doris Drucker (who was 101 when interviewed by Cohen), Peter noted, “The first systematic book on leadership—the Kyropaidaia by Xenophon, himself no mean leader of men—is still the best book on the subject.” (Yes, it’s on my reading list for 2014.)
#10. Drucker’s 7 Action Conclusions on Strengths. In my “Drucker Bucket” chapter in Mastering the Management Buckets, my first bullet point is “Lead From Your Strengths.” My opinion: Drucker was also the father of the strengths movement. Cohen lists Drucker’s “seven action conclusions” after you conduct a strengths analysis: 1) Concentrate on your strengths and make them stronger. 2) Work on improving your strengths. 3) Identify where intellectual arrogance causes disabling arrogance. 4) Remedy your shortcomings or bad habits. 5) Demonstrate good manners. 6) Don’t take on assignments in which you are incompetent. 7) Don’t waste a lot of time raising your performance in weak areas.
Read this book and you’ll have far more than 10 reasons to inspire your colleagues to read this very, very practical resource, The Practical Drucker.
To order from Amazon, click on the graphic for: The Practical Drucker: Applying the Wisdom of the World’s Greatest Management Thinker, by William A. Cohen.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) In Chapter 23, “The Five Great Marketing Sins,” Drucker says that instead of cost-driven pricing, you should do price-driven costing. “That is, you need to start at the other end with the right price, and then work backward to determine your allowable costs.” What kind of pricing do we use in our organization?
2) Cohen writes, “Peter Drucker taught us that the first and most important leadership decision to be made is the decision to become a leader.” Do you agree?
Stewarding the Leadership Privilege - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
In my cycle through the 20 management buckets, I should be on Chapter 6, The Program Bucket, but I’m going back to dip into Chapter 4, in The Drucker Bucket, and remind you about that chapter’s core competency:
"We are privileged to be leaders and managers and we steward that privilege by being lifelong learners and practitioners in the art of management. We don’t just give lip service to management—we are disciplined students of great leadership and management thinkers like Peter Drucker, Ken Blanchard and others."
For more Drucker insights, a link to “Druckerisms,” his list of 39 books, plus other book recommendations, visit the Drucker Bucket webpage.