Issue No. 298 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting highlights another hot-off-the-press book—this one from Bob Buford about his close friendship with Peter Drucker. And this reminder: check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff or board meeting.
Bob Buford’s T-shirt: 100x
Spoiler Alert! Drucker & Me, by Bob Buford, is a terrific book—and the depth will surprise and delight you.
But first…a disclaimer: I’m a big Drucker fan (see the Drucker Bucket chapter in my book) and I’m indebted to Bob Buford and Fred Smith who invited me to a 1986 summit conference with Peter Drucker (33 of us in the Colorado mountains). That four-day marathon ranks as one of my Top-10 life experiences.
Bob also wrote the foreword to my book, Mastering the Management Buckets.
So I’m a tad biased. Buford could have written his new book with Crayolas—and I’d still give it a thumbs-up. But, gratefully, he excelled again (as he did with Halftime) and delivered an amazing, poignant and powerful account of his annual one-day meetings—and close friendship—with the father of modern management. Imagine!
In the foreword to this warm and meaty book, Jim Collins writes, “It is exceptionally well-written and provides a glimpse into the secret sauce of how a truly great teacher can have an impact on the world through a truly great student.”
Secret sauce, indeed! If you’re coaching and mentoring a young leader, this book will inspire you. If you’re looking for a coach or mentor, this dynamic duo is your new benchmark.
So picture this: Bob Buford, the CEO of a network of cable TV systems, boldly seeks one-on-one management counsel from Peter Drucker, the father of modern management! Bob invites us into the meetings, often in Drucker’s humble home, just walking distance from where the esteemed prof held court at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif.
So listen in:
ELBOW BOOKS. Buford learned that Drucker’s most famous book (he wrote 39), The Practice of Management (1954), “was not so much a strategic career move but was characteristically written to meet a need. There were plenty of books out there at the time on individual aspects of running a business—finance, for example, or human resources. Each of them ‘reminded me of a book on human anatomy that would discuss one joint in the body—the elbow, for instance—without even mentioning the arm, let alone the skeleton and musculature,’ Drucker later recalled. The Practice of Management was the first that put it all together.”
GOAL SETTING. “In one of our regular meetings, Peter suggested I spend some time thinking about my personal goals—not just for my business but for my life. So the next time we met, I had my list of six goals for my life all set. I was determined to show the professor that I had taken his assignment seriously…”
So Bob recited the list and when he read the fifth goal, “…to engender high self-esteem for our son, Ross,” Peter interrupted Bob “rather abruptly.”
“‘You can’t make goals for other people!’
he stated with authority.
‘You can only set goals for yourself, which might include how you want to treat Ross. But only he can determine his goals—not you or anyone else.’”
PLANNED ABANDONMENT. Bob learned the concept of “planned abandonment” from Drucker. “It was not unusual for Peter to begin a meeting by saying, ‘Tell me what you’re not doing.’ In other words, not everything you try is going to work out, so what have you decided not to do? What have you quit doing so that you can focus more on those things that will produce results?”
AN OBOE PLAYER BECOMING A VIOLINIST? FORGET IT! Bob, with Drucker’s encouragement, launched Leadership Network, a catalyst for the mega-church movement. So he fully understood management in both the marketplace and the nonprofit world. Buford notes, “Peter frequently used the metaphor of a symphony conductor when he talked about management.”
“A conductor would never ask an oboe player to play the violin or vice versa. The role of the conductor is to make sure the right people are playing the right instruments so that when the baton comes down, the symphony made great music.”
Then Bob confesses, “More than once I have employed a person who performed well in a maintenance role in a large, prestigious organization. It never seems to work out. It is the difference between Special Forces and holding down a Pentagon job.”
INTERNAL FOCUS. You must read Bob’s insights on “How Organizations Die.” Here’s a teaser: “One of the most important lessons Iearned from Peter inevitably, in my view, turned our client-consultant relationship into more of a partnership. That lesson was his conviction that an organization begins to die the day it begins to be run for the benefit of the insiders and not for the benefit of the customers.”
Whew! Trust me—this 172-page book (plus an epilogue from Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research) is jammed—it’s jammed—with wisdom and use-it-today leadership insights. Remarkably, it’s packaged with an endearing warmth that is missing from business and leadership books. (Again, I’m biased. I really didn’t want the book to end—so I delayed reading the last 40 pages to savor the experience, but ultimately succumbed. It was a joy to read.)
What will surprise you?
Even if you’re already a Drucker zealot and deeply appreciate Buford—you’ll be blessed by the deep well of wisdom:
• “…after I finished yet another iteration of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, he sat silent for a moment and then spoke in a voice that to my ears sounded like the voice of God himself: ‘Your mission, Bob, is to transform the latent energy of American Christianity into active energy.’”
• “We would use their credibility, not ours—we were the platform, not the show. Or as Peter once told me, ‘The fruit of your work grows on other people’s trees.’”
• Drucker: “Build on islands of strength.”
• “I think he knew the tendency of people working with nonprofits to think of themselves as the minor league where good intentions are enough. So he stressed the need to raise the standard of performance in my work with churches and others.”
• “Peter once called me a troublemaker, referring to the Parable of the Sower. ‘You are not satisfied that what you are doing is enough,’ he told me. ‘The Parable of the Sower tells you that you have to produce results of at least four or five fold, if not a hundred fold. It’s a very, very upsetting parable.”
So out of Drucker’s insight, Buford summarized his mission. “Upsetting, yes, but it has become the solution to another challenge Peter gave me when he said an individual’s mission statement ought to fit on the front of a T-shirt. I have chosen 100x for my ‘shirt’ because I believe it is my calling to become the ‘good soil’ from which innovative, entrepreneurial church leaders can change the world.”
To order from Amazon, click on the graphic below for Drucker & Me: What a Texas Entrepreneur Learned from the Father of Modern Management, by Bob Buford.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) Admiral Ed Allen, captain of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, described Buford’s role this way: “The catapult is what makes the United States Navy work. It is virtually invisible but it gets 60,000 pounds that is a fully loaded F-14 off the deck in about 200 feet. You are not the carrier. You are not the plane. You are not the pilot. You are the catapult that gets the plane airborne.” So…who is the catapult in your organization?
2) What is your organization’s God-given calling: to be the platform or to be the show?
Thanking Givers With Intentionality - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
In my cycle through the 20 management buckets, this issue features Chapter 11, The Donor Bucket, and this insight from the ECFA 1st Annual Church Stewardship Survey (2014):
are intentional about thanking givers.”
[as defined by this survey of ECFA-accredited churches]
Example: Leading churches “disciple and engage givers further with meaningful gifts, including inspirational books.”
Drucker and Me, or The Daily Drucker, or The Practical Drucker, or Igniting a Life of Generosity, might make the perfect thank you gift to the right donor, at the right time. For more book recommendations, visit the Donor Bucket webpage.