Essential Drucker: In One Volume the Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker's Essential Writings on Managementby Peter F. Drucker
In one volume a selection of the essential writings from Peter F. Drucker's sixty years of work on management.
The first selection of Drucker's management work from The Practice of Management (1954) to Management Challenges for the 21st Century (1999), this book offers, in Drucker's words, "a coherent and fairly comprehensive Introduction to/b>/b>/b>
In one volume a selection of the essential writings from Peter F. Drucker's sixty years of work on management.
The first selection of Drucker's management work from The Practice of Management (1954) to Management Challenges for the 21st Century (1999), this book offers, in Drucker's words, "a coherent and fairly comprehensive Introduction to management [and] gives an overview of my works on management and thus answers a question I have been asked again and again: which of my writings are essential?"
The Essential Drucker contains twenty-six selections on management in the organization, management and the individual, and management and society. It covers the basic principles and concerns of management and its problems, challenges, and opportunities, giving managers, executives, and professionals the tools to perform the tasks that the economy and society of tomorrow will demand of them.
Read an Excerpt
Management as Social Function and Liberal Art
When Karl Marx was beginning work on Das Kapital in the 185Os, the phenomenon of management was unknown. So were the enterprises that managers run. The largest manufacturing company around was a Manchester cotton mill employing fewer than three hundred people and owned by Marx's friend and collaborator Friedrich Engels. And in Engels's mill -- one of the most profitable businesses of its day -- there were no "managers," only "charge hands" who, themselves workers, enforced discipline over a handful of fellow "proletarians."
Rarely in human history has any institution emerged as quickly as management or had as great an impact so fast. In less than 150 years, management has transformed the social and economic fabric of the world's developed countries. It has created a global economy and set new rules for countries that would participate in that economy as equals. And it has itself been transformed. Few executives are aware of the tremendous impact management has had. Indeed, a good many are like M. Jourdain, the character in Molière's Bourgeois Gentilhomme, who did not know that he spoke prose. They barely realize that they practice -- or mispractice -- management. As a result, they are ill prepared for the tremendous challenges that now confront them. The truly important problems managers face do not come from technology or politics; they do not originate outside of management and enterprise. They are problems caused by the very success of management itself.
To be sure, thefundamental task of management remains the same: to make people capable of joint performance through common goals, common values, the right structure, and the training and development they need to perform and to respond to change. But the very meaning of this task has changed, if only because the performance of management has converted the workforce from one composed largely of unskilled laborers to one of highly educated knowledge workers.
On the threshold of World War I, a few thinkers were just becoming aware of management's existence. But few people even in the most advanced countries had anything to do with it. Now the largest single group in the labor force, more than one-third of the total, are people whom the U.S. Bureau of the Census calls "managerial and professional." Management has been the main agent of this transformation. Management explains why, for the first time in human history, we can employ large numbers of knowledgeable, skilled people in productive work. No earlier society could do this. Indeed, no earlier society could support more than a handful of such people. Until quite recently, no one knew how to put people with different skills and knowledge together to achieve common goals.
Eighteenth-century China was the envy of contemporary Western intellectuals because it supplied more jobs for educated people than all of Europe did -- some twenty thousand per year. Today, the United States, with about the same population China then had, graduates nearly a million college students a year, few of whom have the slightest difficulty finding well-paid employment. Management enables us to employ them.
Knowledge, especially advanced knowledge, is always specialized. By itself it produces nothing. Yet a modern business, and not only the largest ones, may employ up to ten thousand highly knowledgeable people who represent up to sixty different knowledge areas. Engineers of all sorts, designers, marketing experts, economists, statisticians, psychologists, planners, accountants, human-resources people-all working together in a joint venture. None would be effective without the managed enterprise.
There is no point in asking which came first, the educational explosion of the last one hundred years or the management that put this knowledge to productive use. Modern management and modern enterprise could not exist without the knowledge base that developed societies have built. But equally, it is management, and management alone, that makes effective all this knowledge and these knowledgeable people. The emergence of management has converted knowledge from social ornament and luxury into the true capital of any economy.
Not many business leaders could have predicted this development back in 1870, when large enterprises were first beginning to take shape. The reason was not so much lack of foresight as lack of precedent. At that time, the only large permanent organization around was the army. Not surprisingly, therefore, its commandand-control structure became the model for the men who were putting together transcontinental railroads, steel mills, modern banks, and department stores. The command model, with a very few at the top giving orders and a great many at the bottom obeying them, remained the norm for nearly one hundred years. But it was never as static as its longevity might suggest. On the contrary, it began to change almost at once, as specialized knowledge of all sorts poured into enterprise.
The first university-trained engineer in manufacturing industry was hired by Siemens in Germany in 1867 -- his name was Friedrich von Hefner-Alteneck. Within five years he had built a research department. Other specialized departments followed suit. By World War I the standard functions of a manufacturer had been developed: research and engineering, manufacturing, sales, finance and accounting, and a little later, human resources (or personnel).
Even more important for its impact on enterprise -- and on the world economy in general -- was another management-directed development that took place at this time. That was the application of management to manual work in the form of training. The child of wartime necessity, training has propelled the transformation of the world economy in the last forty years because it allows low-wage countries to do something that traditional economic theory had said could never be done: to become efficient -- and yet still low-wage -- competitors almost overnight.
Adam Smith reported that it took several hundred years for a country or region to develop a tradition of labor and the expertise in manual and managerial skills needed to produce and market a given product, whether cotton textiles or violins...
Meet the Author
Peter F. Drucker is considered the most influential management thinker ever. The author of more than twenty-five books, his ideas have had an enormous impact on shaping the modern corporation. Drucker passed away in 2005.
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Before going further, let me note that this book is mislabeled. The excerpts in this book are from only ten of Professor Drucker's more than 30 management books. Although there is some reference to nonprofit management (where he spent half of his time), this volume does not encapsulate all of his ideas in that sphere. Many of his early ideas about society are also missing. As great as his ideas about management are, his observations about how to think are even more valuable. The book contains no material from his autobiography, Adventures of a Bystander. You cannot hope to fully appreciate this material until you read that book. What the book does contain is a fairly easy to follow series of 26 excerpts from the ten books, organized into three sections: Management, Individual, and Society. These books date back to 1954, so you get an overview of part of his work over the last 47 years. This overview will mainly be valuable to managers who have read very little Drucker, since there is essentially no new material in the book. The excerpts are also not connected by any transitions, so there is no additional perspective available from the book's organization. Here are the sources of the chapters: The New Realities, Chapters 1 and 26; Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, Chapters 2, 3, 5, and 18; Managing for the Future, Chapters 4 and 19; Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Chapters 6, 15, 21; Managing in a Time of Great Change, Chapters 7 and 23; Practice of Management, Chapter 8; Frontiers of Management, Chapter 9; Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Chapters 10-12, 20, and 24; The Effective Executive, Chapters 13, 14, 16, and 17; and Post-Capitalist Society, Chapters 22 and 25. If you are not familiar with Professor Drucker, he is generally considered to be the first person to think systematically about what management is and needs to become. He was also the first to identify that we were moving into a knowledge-based society where the focus of work and the ways that work is organized would have to be totally transformed. His definition of what a business must do is the most often quoted one around: 'The purpose of a business is to create a customer.' Innovation and marketing are the prime tasks. The book is especially deep in references to his seminal thinking on how to innovate and to operate entrepreneurial businesses. He was also the first twentieth century thinker to see the connection between management of for profit and nonprofit organizations, and that both types of organizations are needed in growing numbers for a sound society. This book is also deeply presents his thinking about the social responsibility of business. I am still impressed by how substantial his imprint is on all management books that I read. Whether or not Professor Drucker is cited, credited, or admired in these books, almost all of them are simply restatements or elaborations on his fundamental concepts. I hope this edition of his work will help extend his influence further into the future with new generations of executives and managers. After you finish reading these landmark ideas, I suggest that you think about one element of the book from the individual section. What values do you want to bring to your work? Are you succeeding? If yes, congratulations! How can you accomplish more? If not, what can you change to make those values come to life? Use your work as a canvas upon which to paint a better world, as Professor Drucker has! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution
I'll say up front that I really wanted to enjoy this book. I had heard a lot about Drucker over the years and was excited to be introduced to his work. However, for the most part, I didn't find the book at all useful. In general, Drucker's work seems to focus a lot on the academic topic of management trends. This isn't the type of book that a high level executive would pass along to his or her peers in order to get down to earth ideas. To be honest, most of the information in the book is just boring. I read this book close to when I read 'Good to Great' by Jim Collins and in my opinion Drucker's work doesn't even come close to having the practical applicability of that book. Drucker seems to remind me a lot of economist John Maynard Keynes. Both have made really big names for themselves, but neither is making a difference today in their field that warrants having such a reputation. I think Drucker most certainly benefited from being the first management guru. If the same books he wrote had never been around and then they got released today, I bet almost nobody outside of academia would pay much attention to them. So, in conclusion, my recommendation would be to not read this book unless you're an academic or hard core management book junkie. Otherwise, buy 'Good to Great' by Jim Collins or read it again if you aleady have it. Greg Blencoe Author, The Ten Commandments for Managers
Revolutionary when he bagan writing, Peter Drucker provided the fund of ideas on which most subsequent management works draw. To fully understand today's cutting edge business concepts, you must, absolutely must, first understand Drucker and read his original writings. Drucker's works caused many in the business and academic worlds to scratch their heads asking 'Why didn't I think of that?' The answer: they had focused on many of the trees in the forest about which Drucker wrote, but they had not stepped back far enough to see the whole landscape and appreciate how the individual trees fit together. After reading The Essential Drucker you will want to read challenging new works such as 'Why Didn't I Think of That? - Think the Unthinkable and Achieve Creative Greatness' where the author takes you to the highest levels of current creative managerial thought so that you, unlike your predecessors in the pre-Drucker days, will not end up having to ask yourself 'Why didn't I think of that?'
If you find a little bit difficulty in how to start studying Drucker's insights. This is the best I have ever read as an introduction.