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November 18, 2005

News & Opinion: Robert May on Peter Drucker

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 3:32 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

I read a lot of books, particularly business books. What I dislike about many of them is that the authors have tunnel-vision. Business is complex, and a one-size-fits-all approach is rarely successful. Authors that present their business ideas as a panacea ignore the importance of context in business decision making. Peter Drucker had no tunnel-vision. His writings, when taken in small excerpts, can often seem confusing and contradictory, but a wide survey of Drucker writings reveal that is not the case. Drucker simply realized that there is never an absolute answer that business is about tradeoffs, and that context is important when making business decisions. So why read Drucker? Because it is the best way to learn how to think about business. His books give you insights into his mind and thought process. Instead of teaching you to apply the same approach across a variety of problems, Drucker shows you how to analyze a business problem and make good solid decisions that take all the major factors into account. He points out the counterintuitive nature of many business solutions, and he is a master at balancing the needs of the various stakeholders involved. If you have never read Peter Drucker, I would suggest beginning with The Daily Drucker, The Effective Executive, or The Essential Drucker. To close, I will leave you with a few of major favorite Peter Drucker quotes.
Management by objectives works if you first think through your objectives. Ninety percent of the time you haven't. Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately generate into hard work. So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work. There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.
Thank you Peter Drucker, for you contributions. Your examples of disciplined thought and lifelong learning are something to which we should all aspire. -- Written By: Robert May May has an MBA from the University of Kentucky. He is a consultant and entrepreneur. You can read his blog at www.businesspundit.com.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.