They’ve been calling him the Father of Modern Management, an influential business guru, Visionary of Visionaries, the pioneer of social responsibility, the grand old man of provocative theory, and the greatest management thinker and writer of all time.
And those are just the headlines since Peter Drucker, the Austrian management thinker who fled to the U.S. to escape the Nazis, died Friday (Nov. 11) at the age of 95.
Drucker not only made a science out of management. He shaped many of our concepts of business (he invented “management by objective'' and the term, “knowledge workers''), and was also an influential thinker in entrepreneurship.
Here is the introduction to entrepreneurship in his 1993 book, Innovation and Entrepreneurship:
“The husband and wife who open another delicatessen store or another Mexican restaurant in the American suburb surely take a risk. But are they entrepreneurs? All they do is what has been done many times before. They gamble on the increasing popularity of eating out in their area, but create neither a new satisfaction nor new consumer demand. Seen under this perspective they are surely not entrepreneurs even though theirs is a new venture.
“McDonald's, however, was entrepreneurship. It did not invent anything, to be sure. But by applying management concepts and management techniques (asking, What is "value" to the customer?), standardizing the "product," designing process and tools, and by basing training on the analysis of the work to be done and then setting the standards it required, McDonald's both drastically upgraded the yield from resources, and created a new market and a new customer. This is entrepreneurship.”
It’s the process, not the product.
In tribute to Drucker, here are some of his best quotes:
“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
“No decision has been made unless carrying it out in specific steps has become someone’s work assignment and responsibility.”
"Executives owe it to the organization and to their fellow workers not to tolerate non-performing individuals in important jobs.”
"Most discussions of decision-making assume that only senior executives make decisions or that only senior executives' decisions matter. This is a dangerous mistake.”
“Almost everybody today believes that nothing in economic history has ever moved as fast as, or had a greater impact than, the Information Revolution. But the Industrial Revolution moved at least as fast in the same time span, and had probably an equal impact if not a greater one.”
Drucker was a big fan of disciplined, sound management – not today’s fetish for leadership. “The three greatest leaders of the 20th century were Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. If that’s leadership, I want no part of it.”