I’ve read a lot of Peter F. Drucker over the years, so it’s nice to find a great distillation of his ideas in one place. Just finished Inside Drucker’s Brain by Jeffrey A. Krames and it is full of gems to remind us of Drucker’s no nonsense style.
For business wonks who have never read Drucker directly, you will find the concepts he developed very familiar. For those of us who have – it is a great, short summary of his evergreen concepts. The management concepts he talks about can be eye-opening for you no matter where you live in an organization.
Life and Death Decisions — For Drucker, the most important Life and Death decisions are people decisions. Who to promote, who to fire/demote, and each manager’s scope of responsibility. After people decisions came the priority decisions on resource allocation.
Executive management likes to think that they control the really critical Life and Death decisions for a company, but in a knowledge enterprise Drucker said that you could have executives who manage nobody making decisions that affect the survival of a whole team or division. (His example was a platoon in the Viet Nam jungle. Not exactly a call center environment – but it makes the point.)
He also considered the concept of priority decisions – the things that must and mustn’t get done to be matters of life and death for an organization. Managers need to know how to walk away from what looks like a good opportunity – Don’t be afraid to walk away when things don’t show results NOW. Resource allocation 101, and one of the biggest ongoing mistakes you can find in every organization.
Innovation — Yes Innovation is my first love, but it always comes after those life and death decisions discussed above. Drucker taught his first course on business innovation in 1958 according to Krames. This chapter wraps around some of Drucker’s core beliefs including:
- Without a customer, there is no business
- Companies must be organized for Innovation top to bottom
- Purposeful abandonment is a precursor to innovation
The implications of those three points alone could set your business’ creative fire loose.
Lots more inside and well worth the time to read or listen.
2/25/2009 Correction – Hmmm, in the same week we work to ban poor business language I go and mess up affect/effect yet again (par.4). Yes, some managers manage nobody yet affect the organization. Not recognizing this could have a negative effect. Oh, Grammar Girl, please forgive me.