The Practical Drucker: Applying the Wisdom of the World's Greatest Management Thinker


Few thinkers have had a greater impact on business than Peter Drucker, the inventor of modern management, whose legacy continues to influence leaders around the globe. His keen observations about organizations took the form of deceptively simple truths and astute predictions. Concepts such as decentralization, outsourcing, the rise of the knowledge worker, the role of employees as assets, and a focus on the customer—it was Drucker who first expressed them, sometimes decades ...

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The Practical Drucker: Applying the Wisdom of the World's Greatest Management Thinker

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Few thinkers have had a greater impact on business than Peter Drucker, the inventor of modern management, whose legacy continues to influence leaders around the globe. His keen observations about organizations took the form of deceptively simple truths and astute predictions. Concepts such as decentralization, outsourcing, the rise of the knowledge worker, the role of employees as assets, and a focus on the customer—it was Drucker who first expressed them, sometimes decades before they be came accepted wisdom.

Although renowned as a thinker and idea generator, the “what” in his teachings was far more prevalent than the “how.” Now, The Practical Drucker mines his vast body of work to pinpoint 40 applicable truths for solving real-world problems. Readers will find surprising insights and clear guidance on how to:

• Engage employees and achieve outstanding performance

• Remedy destructive office politics

• Approach innovation

• Ensure follow-through on good ideas by establishing controls

• Handle a crisis

• Become better decision makers by questioning assumptions

• Determine which leadership style to use in which situation

• Do more with less

• Steer clear of the biggest traps that leaders fall into

• Avoid the five deadly marketing sins

• And much more

In succinct, satisfying chapters, the book distills the practical wisdom from Drucker’s myriad books, essays, articles and his decades of teaching and consulting into a set of fresh, vital lessons that will resonate today and for years to come.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Cohen (Heroic Leadership), president of the Institute of Leader Arts, presents 40 lessons based on the ideas of management guru Peter Drucker, his former professor. Though Drucker has already covered this ground in several books, here Cohen promises to provide a sense of the "how" rather than the "what" concerning Drucker's innovative business practices. Despite the inclusion of practical chapters on subjects such as "Fear of Job Loss" and "How to Avoid Failure," these are exceptions and not the rule. Instead, we primarily find practical examples, stories, and anecdotes relating to chapter themes. It is in the included success stories of IBM, Enron, and others, that we find discussions of how these companies overcame challenges. Cohen also discusses social responsibility, moral integrity, and business ethics, but the latter discussion reads tersely and might raise more questions and objections than intended. Overall, though there are wonderful nuggets, Cohen doesn't quite succeed in producing a "how-to-do-it" book, offering instead a "how-it-has-been-done" book. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

"If you've ever admired Drucker's ideas but were at a loss on how to apply them in your immediate working environment, this is the book for you" --T+D magazine

"...consistently clear and offers highly interesting approaches in explaining some of the less obvious that Drucker put forward." --Inland Empire Business Journal

Library Journal
Peter Drucker (1909–2005), "the father of modern management," has been praised for the practical wisdom he offered to managers on concepts such as decentralization, outsourcing, employees as assets, and the importance of knowledge workers. Cohen (president, Inst. of Leader Arts; California Inst. of Advanced Management; A Class with Drucker) has distilled Drucker's teachings down to 40 chapters on how to get things done. The book organizes the business leader's thoughts around four concepts: people, management, organization, and marketing and innovation. Cohen devotes roughly ten chapters to each concept. He then identifies one of Drucker's core principles and outlines how to put it into practice. While the author accomplishes his goal of creating a straightforward set of lessons from the body of Drucker's work, the chapters feel at times too reductive. The book enters a crowded market of Peter Drucker's core teachings including The Essential Drucker, Classic Drucker, and The Daily Drucker. The difference here is that Cohen provides new insight on the practice of applying Drucker's principles to modern business management. VERDICT This work will appeal to new business managers and may be a useful introduction to Drucker's work for first-year MBA students.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814433492
  • Publisher: AMACOM Books
  • Publication date: 11/12/2013
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 787,521
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

WILLIAM A. COHEN, PH.D., President of the Institute of Leader Arts and The California Institute of Advanced Management,

was Drucker’s first executive Ph.D. graduate. About him, Drucker wrote: “My colleagues on the faculty and I learned at least as much as we could teach him.” He has held executive positions in several companies and served as president of two universities. He is the author of many books, including Heroic Leadership, A Class with Drucker, Drucker on Leadership, and Drucker on Marketing.

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Read an Excerpt


Some six years ago, I was at the Rosario University in Bogotá, Colombia, at the invitation of the faculty and administration to speak about Peter Drucker. The ancient Universidad del Rosario (which is its official name in Spanish) was founded in 1653 by Roman Catholic clergy and scholars under the authorization of King Philip IV of Spain. Harvard, the first U.S. college, is older (1636), but not by much. Nowadays, Rosario University is far more secular and holds an important place in Colombian history, such that it is known as “The Cradle of the Republic.” Twenty-eight of Colombia’s presidents have been its students. Some say a few more probably attended before accurate records started being kept. I was honored to be invited to speak at such an illustrious institution.

A Spanish translation of my book A Class with Drucker had recently been published in Bogotá. There was some buzz, since Peter Drucker’s business genius was receiving great attention in Colombia, as it was in many other countries. In addition to my speaking in the morning, I was to join my colleague Dr. Joe Maciariello, from the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Graduate School of Management at California’s Claremont Graduate University, on a panel to discuss Drucker’s teachings. One senior executive on that panel had read my book; he commented that while he had read many of Drucker’s books, what struck him as different about mine was how much easier it made it to apply Drucker’s concepts. I thanked him and suggested that this might have to do with some peculiarities of translation into Spanish, but that I was happy to take the credit and was going to quote him to my wife as soon as possible.

After some reflection, I began to understand what he meant. It wasn’t that Drucker wrote poorly. On the contrary, Drucker made his living from his writings for general interest magazines long before he became a consultant. Nor was it that Drucker wasn’t specific about what he wrote. Indeed, Drucker was very specific in both his speeches and his writings. However, while Drucker was definitely application-oriented, rather than theoretically oriented, he focused on what to do but he rarely wrote about how to do it.

In his consulting work, Drucker apparently did even less explaining. One of his clients described to me how difficult it was to understand Drucker: “Unlike other consultants, he didn’t tell us either what to do or how to do it. Rather, he asked us questions that we were supposed to answer.” He went on to explain: “Eventually we realized how effective this technique was and the genius behind it. He made us grasp his ideas on our own. This was far more helpful in our applying them; however, it was slow going at first, and doing this based on his writings was sometimes even more difficult.”

My first stab at professional writing involved my Air Force specialty of navigation. The intention was to write for navigation journals, providing clear instructions that could be read and understood in several different countries. This simple goal in writing has been carried forward to my books on business, management, and strategy. That is, “how-to-do-it” discussions are usually easier to comprehend than “what-to-do” discussions. So, for better or worse, this is what you will find in The Practical Drucker.

Drucker’s powerful observations about people and the organizations in which they worked sometimes took the form of deceptively simple truths and astute predictions. Concepts such as decentralization, outsourcing, the rise of the knowledge worker, viewing employees as assets, a focus on the customer, marketing as different from selling—it was Peter Drucker who first expressed every one of these ideas, sometimes decades before they became the accepted wisdom they are today. In the same way, he predicted our current financial challenges years before they occurred.

What I have done in The Practical Drucker is to mine Drucker’s vast body of work to explain forty of his most important concepts and truths: keys for solving real-world problems and fundaments for today’s effective management and keen leadership. However, I have carried his ideas a step further: I explain not only what needs to be done to implement his concepts but also how to go about doing this implementation. If there are mistakes here, they are mine. The genius is pure Drucker.

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Table of Contents




Part One | People

1 General Business Ethics

2 Drucker on Engagement

3 Drucker’s Favorite Leadership Book

4 The Seven Deadly Sins of Leadership

5 Three Principles for Developing Yourself

6 Move Your Company Ahead by Encouraging Your People

7 The Most Important Leadership Decision

8 Drucker and Heroic Leadership

9 What Everyone Knows Is Usually Wrong

10 Power Comes from Integrity

11 People Have No Limits

Part Two | Management

12 Fear of Job Loss Is Incompatible with Good Management

13 You Can Accomplish More with Less

14 What to Do About Office Politics

15 Above All, Do No Harm

16 How to Avoid Failure

17 Quality Is Not What You May Think

18 Implementation Requires Controls

19 Do the Right Thing at the Right Time

20 How to Be a Managerial Fortune-Teller

21 What Are You Going to Do About It?

Part Three | Marketing and Innovation

22 Can Marketing and Selling Be Adversarial?

23 The Five Great Marketing Sins

24 You Can’t Get the Right Strategy from a Formula

25 Drucker’s Four Approaches to Entrepreneurial Marketing

26 If You Conduct Marketing Research, Conduct It Right

27 Be Careful in Using a Bribe

28 There Are No Irrational Customers, Only Irrational Marketers

29 Where the Best Innovations Come From

30 Drucker’s Theory of Abandonment

31 The Mysteries of Supply-Side Innovation

Part Four | Organizaton

32 The Purpose of Your Business Is Not to Make a Profit

33 Social Responsibility Is a Win-Win

34 There Are Only Two Organizational Functions

35 Ignorance Is Good

36 What to Do When an Organization Faces a Crisis

37 The Ultimate Requirement for Running a Good Organization

38 Is Leadership a “Marketing Job”?

39 You Must Know Your Strengths

40 Drucker’s Most Valuable Lesson



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