Peter Drucker died yesterday. There are countless people much more talented than me who will write about Mr. Drucker's life in the next few days, so I'll refrain from waxing about how much his work has influenced my thinking on business. I will say, however, that if you are unfamiliar with Mr. Drucker's work, please read The Daily Drucker -- a veritable showcase of Drucker gems mined from his 65 years of management writing, "nearly all of it essentially right," according to Jim Collins.
In a small salute to his life, following are twenty reasons to love Peter Drucker -- a few of my favorite quotes from The Daily Drucker. As I compiled them, I was reminded of the legendary rock critic Lester Bangs, who once said "There are no bad Who songs; there are only less good ones." And so it is with Peter Drucker. These are my favorites today. But I'm sure I'll wish I had included many others tomorrow.
- The critical question is not "How can I achieve?" but "What can I contribute?"
- There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer. He alone gives employment.
- It is easier to raise the performance of one leader than it is to raise the performance of a whole mass.
- Leadership is not rank. It is responsibility.
- An executive should be a realist; and no one is less realistic than the cynic.
- You cannot prevent a major catastrophe, but you can build an organization that is battle-ready, where people trust one another. In military training, the first rule is to instill soldiers with trust in their officers -- because without trust, they won't fight.
- Listening (the first competence of leadership) is not a skill, it is a discipline. All you have to do is keep your mouth shut.
- It is easy to look good in a boom.
- Luck never built a business. Prosperity and growth come only to the business that systematically finds and exploits its potential.
- The one person to distrust is the one who never makes a mistake. Either he is a phony, or he stays with the safe, the tried, and the trivial.
- There are keys to success in managing bosses. First, put down on a piece of paper a "boss list," everyone to whom you are accountable. Next, go to each person on the list and ask, "What do I do and what do my people do that helps you do your job?" And, "What do we do that makes your life more difficult?"
- Workmanship is essential: In fact, an organization demoralizes itself if it does not demand of its members the highest workmanship.
- A decision is a commitment to action. No decision has, in fact, been made until carrying it out has become somebody's responsibility.
- It's much easier to sell the Brooklyn Bridge than to give it away. Nobody trusts you if you offer something for free.
- The ultimate test of an information system is that there are no surprises.
- Until a business returns a profit that is greater than its cost of capital, it does not create wealth -- it destroys it.
- The question has to be asked -- and asked seriously -- "If we did not do this already, would we go into it now?" If the answer is no, the reaction must be "What do we do now?" Very often, the right answer is abandonment.
- Freedom is not fun. It is a responsible choice.
- One can't manage change. One can only be ahead of it.
- Just go out and make yourself useful.
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